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Toulon Set to Dump All Blacks Ace

Toulon are set to get rid of one of their players according to reports due to contract complications, which could allow them to chase another star player

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All Blacks back Nehe Milner-Skudder may not even arrive in France to take up his contract with Toulon with the club to cut-ties with him according to reports in France.

A 2015 Rugby World Cup winner, Milner-Skudder agreed a three-year contract with the French giants last December, but has since been missing from action due to injury, not playing any rugby for the Hurricanes during the Super Rugby season. 

The shoulder injury that left him out of the Hurricanes team also meant he could not compete for a place in the All Blacks World Cup squad earlier this year. 

However, L’Equipe are now reporting that the complications that he has with his shoulder may mean that he cannot undergo a medical examination that is required before the French League approve a players contract. 

It would be a huge blow for the 28-year-old, who was scooped up by the club at the same time as South African World Cup winner Eben Etzebeth, who is expected to join-up with the squad before the new year and start his respective three-year deal. 

If Milner-Skudder’s contract is torn up he would probably need to recover from his shoulder problem before being on the radar of a new club. 

Although it appears a blow for the French outfit, it turns out that it could work to their advantage, as it would free up a squad place and some budget to attempt to capture a different star. 

The star that they are believed to be interested in is Wales’ back Liam Williams, who could be a casualty of the current Saracens crisis, but Toulon would be one of a number of French clubs competing for his signature, not to mention clubs from around Europe.

Rugby Transfer Rumours

Clermont Eying Japanese Ace

Top 14 side Clermont are looking into the possibility of signing one of Japan’s Rugby World Cup stars come the end of the season according to reports

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French Top 14 giants Clermont are lining up a move for Japan star winger Kotaro Matsushima at the end of the current season.

The flying winger gained a huge amount of admirers during last year’s Rugby World Cup in Japan, going on to finish joint-second in the try-scoring charts following a string of impressive performances for the host nation. 

However, despite all the hype surrounding the 26-year-old he remained with Japanese Top League side Suntory Sungoliath. 

Reports in France are claiming that both Nick Abendanon and Remi Grosso are set to leave Clermont once the season ends and that they are seeking replacements for them already. 

One report by rugbyrama.fr states that the club were originally interested in Racing 92’s Brice Bulin but that they have opted for Matsushima instead. 

It would be a huge opportunity for the player if the move goes through and would be a massive addition to Clermont’s already star-studded side.

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Super Rugby

Savea Confirms his Favourite Between Super Rugby and Top 14

Julian Savea has had a mixed couple of seasons since leaving the Hurricanes and he has now confirmed which competition he prefers between Super Rugby and the Top 14 and why

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Toulon star Julian Savea has admitted which competition he prefers between Super Rugby and the Top 14 while being interviewed by Toulon’s website.

The former All Blacks ace, who managed to score 46 tries in just 54 international appearances, played for the Hurricanes for eight seasons before his move to Toulon, confirmed that the former competition would be his preference due to the season length. 

“I’d go Super Rugby, just because it’s a smaller competition. The Top 14’s definitely a long season, and the shorter the better. When pressed further on his stance, Savea replied: [It’s] a little bit different, just because now you have to maintain all your players because it’s a longer season, and just making sure that everyone’s always ready to play. In Super Rugby, you don’t have to count for that many injuries because the season’s short,” he said. 

It comes as little surprise that Savea would choose Super Rugby having managed to make 116 appearances for the Canes scoring 45 tries along the way and helping them to their first title in 2016. 

However, his reasoning for choosing the competition is unusual considering he has suffered a tough time since his move to France. His relationship with recently departed owner Mourad Boudjellal caught the headlines for the wrong reasons, with the owner appearing to try to push Savea out of the club last season. 

Although both Savea and his current club are experiencing better fortunes this season with the club now sitting third in the table and firmly within the play-off places thanks to a 43-3 win over Castres yesterday. 

Savea’s point about player welfare and keeping them fit during the long season rang through in that game with the winger missing out due to illness as they reached the halfway-point. 

Next up for Toulon and Savea is a Champions Cup clash with the Scarlets in Wales, before a game against Bayonne to finish off the pool stages as they look to progress to the knock-out stages. 

While next up in the Top 14 is a clash against second-placed Lyon on January 25th, but while his short-term future clearly lies in France, Savea’s comments raise the possibility of a future return to Super Rugby.

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International

Webb’s Short-Term Future Looks Bleak

Last week Rhys Webb secured a move back to former team the Ospreys come the end of the season, but this week he will be far from happy as he looks set for a disappointing second-half of the season with current club Toulon

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Wales scrum-half Rhys Webb appears as though he may have played his final game for Top 14 giants Toulon with the club’s owner far from happy with the player’s behaviour surrounding his move back to the Ospreys.

It was confirmed last week that Webb’s original three-year deal with Toulon would be cut short by a year to allow him to return to the Ospreys for family reasons. 

However, Toulon owner, Bernard Lemaitre, seems far from impressed by how Webb went about his return and claimed that it is unlikely that he will put on a Toulon jersey again. 

“His family returned to Wales, it’s difficult for him to live. We made beach-sized amounts of time for him to go back to Wales and see them. We arrive at a situation where at the end we liberate Rhys of his final year of his contract, which is of the 2020-21 season. All of a sudden we learn he has already signed for his former club Ospreys and his agent had already negotiated with the Welsh union that he can be selected by Wales. It’s a dishonest attitude. It takes us to a situation that means I don’t think Rhys will play for us for the rest of the season. The adventure will be cut short,” he said while speaking to French radio station Sud Radio. 

Having only left the Ospreys at the end of the 2018 season to join the French outfit, his time in France looks to be ending even sooner than he would have liked having claimed last week that he would give his all to Toulon for the remainder of the season. 

That means that despite Wales announcing last week that Webb would be eligible for selection by national team head coach Wayne Pivac in the upcoming Six Nations campaign that he may have no game-time between now and then, leaving it unlikely for him to be selected. 

All of which could mean that Webb could be left out of action until he next plays for the Ospreys in the 2020/21 pre-season. 

It would be a massive blow for the 31-year-old, who was upbeat about a return to the club that he previously spent 10-years at, and with time ticking some time-out of the game could have more long-term consequences on his national career as players will hope to impress in his absence.

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