The Scarlets have released back-liner Clayton Blommetjies ahead of the 2019/20 season, having only signed him last summer.
The 28-year-old has only featured six times for the Welsh side after failing to impress and was even sent on loan to Premiership side Leicester Tigers for the second half of the season.
It is believed that his fitness levels were a real concern for the club, with former head coach Wayne Pivac giving Blommetjies a hint to get fitter last season.
“We do things a bit differently from the Cheetahs and expectation on the players is to be in a certain shape and Clayton has a bit of work to do in that area,” he said.
However, the full-back, who was signed following an impressive season with the Cheetahs in the PRO14 clearly never took the advice and was given limited game time due to this.
Although his release has not been officially announced by the Scarlets yet, Blommetjies told South African news outlet Network24 that he was actively seeking a new club after being told the news by the Scarlets.
“I did my job, I did what they asked of me. They are going to pay out the year of my contract and my agent is looking for me elsewhere. I was sad when I heard the bad news a few days ago. It hurt, but I am patiently waiting for my agent to try something for me. My wife and child enjoyed it there, so it is just so sad to hear that we won’t go back,” he said.
A return to South Africa may be on the cards for the full-back, however, his potential lack of fitness and his apparent lack of willingness to change will be a concern for any potential suitors.
Sharks name squad of 34 for URC trip to Europe, Pienaar included.
Sean Everitt has picked two, and sometimes three, players in each position given the COVID-19 protocols around international travel and proper isolation and quarantine practices, as well as accounting for any injuries that may be picked up within this four match period.
Ruan Pienaar and Tian Meyer have both been included in the squad, having signed loan agreements with the Cell C Sharks from the Toyota Cheetahs, while there are welcome returns from injury for the lock pairing of Ruben van Heerden and Hyron Andrews.
Phepsi Buthelezi continues to lead a settled and experienced squad of players in the absence of Lukhanyo Am, who will take over the captaincy on his return from Springbok duty.
“The boys are up for the challenge, we have some experienced players who have played in the Pro16 before and have had a taste of European conditions, and we have coaching staff who have coached at the highest level; we’re all confident that we can do well overseas,” said Everitt.
“We’ve taken a young squad mixed with some older heads with experience and it will be exciting to see what these guys can deliver against opposition that we don’t see too often, nor play against.”
The Cell C Sharks kick off their campaign against Munster next Saturday, and in round two (Saturday 2 October) travel to Scotland to take on Glasgow Warriors before heading to Wales for rounds three and four, against the Ospreys (Friday 8 October) before rounding off the month-long tour against Cardiff (Saturday 16 October).
“The boys are excited about experiencing a new competition, the URC is a tough tournament that brings in new challenges and different opposition but the guys are up for the challenge after a very good Currie Cup and a good year,” added Everitt.
The Cell C Sharks touring squad:
Forwards: Dan Jooste, Dylan Richardson, Fez Mbatha, Gebrandt Grobler, Henco Venter, Hyron Andrews, James Venter, Kerron van Vuuren, Khutha Mchunu, Khwezi Mona, Le Roux Roets, Lourens Adriaanse, Mpilo Gumede, Ntuthuko Mchunu, Phepsi Buthelezi (captain), Reniel Hugo, Ruben van Heerden, Thembelani Bholi, Thomas du Toit, Wiehahn Herbst.
Backs: Anthony Volmink, Boeta Chamberlain, Curwin Bosch, Jeremy Ward, Marius Louw, Marnus Potgieter, Murray Koster, Ruan Pienaar, Rynhardt Jonker, Sanele Nohamba, Thaakir Abrahams, Tian Meyer, Werner Kok, Yaw Penxe.
Ulster sign World Cup winner Vermeulen
Ulster Rugby have today signed one of the biggest names in world rugby, Duane Vermeulen, who will join the club following the Autumn Tests in November.
Nicknamed the Thor of rugby, the 6ft 4in 18 stone Springbok will pull on the famous white jersey at Kingspan Stadium until 2023.
In 2019, Vermeulen was crowned Player of the Match as South Africa stormed their way to World Cup victory, lifting the Webb Ellis trophy.
The 35-year-old brings with him experience gained in both Super Rugby and the Top 14 and will join the United Rugby Championship in November once he has completed international duties during the Autumn Tests.
Head Coach, Dan McFarland, said:
“Duane is clearly a world class player who, as the current World Champions’ starting 8 and MVP from the last RWC Final, is set to bring depth and experience to our really talented group of back rowers.
“As well as being an undeniable talent on the pitch, I know Duane will play an important role going forward in strengthening the winning mindset we are building as a squad.
“I would also like to take this opportunity to recognise Bryn Cunningham’s brilliant work in orchestrating this deal from start to finish. It was always going to be a difficult ask to find a difference-making 8 but Bryn has definitely achieved that.”
Duane Vermeulen added:
“Ulster and myself had detailed discussions about the club’s values, expectations and the potential role I can play going forward. It appealed and resonated with me to a point where I got very excited and decided to commit myself to this Ulster journey. I cannot wait to become part of the Ulster family and to serve as best I can.”
Ulster Rugby has been actively seeking a world class addition to the squad following the planned deal with Leone Nakarawa falling through in June.
Source – Ulster Rugby
TG4 And RTÉ Partner To Show Over 150 Hours Of URC Coverage
RTÉ and TG4‘s live free-to-air coverage of the new United Rugby Championship begins with Connacht live on TG4 on Friday, September 24, followed by an action-packed Saturday (September 25) as Leinster are live on TG4, and Munster live on RTÉ.
RTÉ will broadcast live television, radio and online coverage of 26 games featuring the provinces in the league, plus additional knockout matches. There will also be extensive highlights and analysis each week on Against the Head on RTÉ 2 and the RTÉ Player.
TG4’s Rugbaí Beo will continue to be the station’s flagship rugby programme and will broadcast 26 games involving the Irish teams, and an additional 16 games featuring international club sides.
Spórt TG4 will also have exclusive behind-the-scenes action from the competition across its social media channels.
The United Rugby Championship final will also be delivered free-to-air with RTÉ and TG4 broadcasting it live on alternate years.
The RTÉ/TG4 joint broadcast output contract has been awarded to Iris Productions. The Galway-based production company spearheaded many innovations in their previous rugby coverage on TG4, including behind-the-scenes referee briefings and audio-snoops on coaches and players. NEP Ireland will provide OB facilities.
Rónán O Coisdealbha, TG4’s Head of Sport, commented: “TG4 has been bringing interprovincial rugby to Irish audiences since the first days of the Celtic League in 2001, and we are looking forward to taking this next step with the URC and to see the South Africa ‘Super’ teams become part of our Rugbaí Beo line-up.
“This partnership with RTÉ galvanises TG4’s commitment to provide the best of sporting action to our audiences, and to making that coverage free-to-air and accessible to all fans.”
RTÉ’s Group Head of Sport, Declan McBennett, said: “Being in a position to provide free-to-air coverage of the provinces to our audience in the newly reconstituted URC allows us to ensure our best rugby players are seen, and seen to inspire future generations who want to one day wear their provincial and national jersey.”
Martin Anayi, the United Rugby Championship’s CEO, added: “The widespread return of URC and the provinces to free-to-air television in Ireland is a real cause for excitement.
“We can’t wait for that energy to be unleashed on the opening weekend with some cracking games on RTÉ and TG4 involving Leinster and Munster against two of South Africa’s heavyweights in the Vodacom Bulls and the Cell C Sharks.
“We have talked about the potential of our new partnership with RTÉ and TG4 and now we get to see if come to life in a week’s time.”
TG4’s Rugbaí Beo
TG4’s Rugbai Beo, led by presenter Máire Treasa Ní Dhubhghaill, will feature expert analysis from Eimear Consideine, Deirbhile Nic a Bhaird, Niamh Ní Dhroma, Marcus Horan, Ronan Loughney, Eoghan Ó Neachtain and Eamonn Molloy along with a host of others.
Match commentary will be provided by Garry Mac Donncha, Gemma Ní Choinnaith will take over presenting duties from Máire Treasa while she is on maternity leave later in the year.
URC coverage will get underway on TG4 with a bumper weekend of action. On Friday, September 24,,Connacht travel to Wales to take on Cardiff Rugby (kick-off 7.35pm, TG4 & TG4 Player).
On Saturday, September 25, Leinster take on the Vodacom Bulls at the Aviva Stadium (kick-off 5.15pm, TG4 & TG4 Player).
RTÉ URC Live
RTÉ’s URC Live will be presented by Jacqui Hurley and Daire O’Brien with a top-class line-up of panellists.
RTÉ’s URC Live kicks off on Saturday, September 25 on RTÉ 2 and RTÉ Player with Jacqui Hurley live from Thomond Park as Munster begin their campaign against the Cell C Sharks. Donal Lenihan will be alongside Hugh Cahill on commentary.
RTÉ Radio 1 and RTÉ 2fm will have full live commentary on the key games involving the provinces as well as reports, analysis, and interviews throughout the season.
Images & Content from Irish Rugby & Images © Inpho Photography
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