Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
Wales Online
Wales Online
Ben James

Tonight's rugby news as South Africa wary of 'phenomenal' Wales player and third pro joins Welsh Premiership side

Here are your rugby evening headlines for Tuesday, 14 June.

Boks coach excited by North challenge

Springboks head coach Jaques Nienaber says South Africa are relishing the challenge of facing the "phenomenal" George North.

The Wales centre is back in Wayne Pivac's squad for this summer's tour, having not featured on the Test stage since the end of the 2021 Six Nations. Having the Ospreys star, who burst onto the scene with Wales over a decade ago, back in his squad is a huge boost for Pivac.

And Boks coach Nienaber, who masterminded them to victory over the Lions last year, is under no illusions of the challenge North will possess.

Read next: Get the latest Welsh rugby headlines sent straight to your inbox for free with our daily newsletter.

"George is a phenomenal player," he said. "You're never glad if a player is declared fit when you play against them but in the World Cup in 2019, he was massive for them.

"At the back end of the tournament, he seemed to be carrying niggles - and I'm not talking fact, I'm only talking about what I saw.

"George is physical, he's strong, he's got such good attributes and they can play him at wing or 13. Obviously, he's got massive experience.

"I think he's one of the youngest players to represent his country. He started at 18, he's like our Frans Steyn, who was the youngest player to play for us at the World Cup. That statement alone just speaks volumes of the man. He's been playing internationally since 18 years old and that doesn't happen to a lot of players.

"It will be a nice challenge for us."

Third pro player joins Welsh Premiership club

Former Ospreys lock Lloyd Ashley has signed for Merthyr.

Ashley spent more than a decade at the region, playing 153 games for the Ospreys since his debut in 2011. His departure was announced back in March.

Ashley becomes the latest recently released professional to sign for the Premiership club. Former Dragons duo Tavis Knoyle and Josh Lewis have both signed for the Ironmen ahead of next season. Another, Dan Baker, has joined Aberavon.

Posting on Twitter, Ashley said: "Well, retirement didn’t last long! Looking forward to linking up with Merthyr for next season."

Cullen voted coach of the year despite semi-final defeat

Leinster's Leo Cullen has won the United Rugby Championship's coach of the season award, despite the fact that the province fell at the penultimate hurdle.

Cullen was chosen as the recipient of the award by his fellow coaches after Leinster convincingly finished top of the table with more tries and points scored than any other side. However, defeat to the Bulls in the semi-final last weekend saw them miss out on the final for the first time since 2017 - when the Scarlets bested them in a semi-final at the RDS.

"I'd like to thank the URC for the award which I will accept on behalf of the wider coaching group and the 60 players that pulled on a Leinster rugby jersey this year," Cullen said.

"The season most certainly did not end the way we would have liked but there were many highlights and positives over the year. I’d like to wish the DHL Stormers and the Vodacom Bulls the very best of luck in this weekend’s final.

"Having played both teams recently, it will be an intriguing final and a great way to bring the curtain down on the first season of the United Rugby Championship.

"The introduction of the four South African clubs has raised the standards and we’ll all have to raise our game to compete with them next season.

"We would dearly love to be there and will watch with keen interest and we look forward to challenging for the title again next season."

Ireland name squad for All Blacks tour

Ireland head coach Andy Farrell has included five uncapped players in his 40-man squad for the upcoming tour of New Zealand. Leinster trio Ciaran Frawley, Joe McCarthy and Jimmy O’Brien will tour alongside Munster’s Jeremy Loughman and Connacht’s Cian Prendergast.

Robert Baloucoune, Andrew Conway, Chris Farrell and Ronan Kelleher all miss out through injury. Ireland will take on New Zealand on July 2, 9 and 16 in Auckland, Dunedin and Wellington respectively, with midweek clashes against the Maori All Blacks scheduled for June 29 and July 12.

Ireland squad to tour New Zealand :
Forwards: R Baird (Leinster), F Bealham (Connacht), T Beirne (Munster), J Conan (Leinster), G Coombes (Munster), C Doris (Leinster), T Furlong (Leinster), C Healy (Leinster), D Heffernan (Connacht), I Henderson (Ulster), R Herring (Ulster), J Loughman (Munster), J McCarthy (Leinster), P O’Mahony (Munster), T O’Toole (Ulster), A Porter (Leinster), C Prendergast (Connacht), J Ryan (Leinster), D Sheehan (Leinster), N Timoney (Ulster), K Treadwell (Ulster), J van der Flier (Leinster).

Backs: B Aki (Connacht), H Byrne (Leinster), J Carbery (Munster), C Casey (Munster), K Earls (Munster), C Frawley (Leinster), J Gibson Park (Leinster), M Hansen (Connacht), R Henshaw (Leinster), J Hume (Ulster), H Keenan (Leinster), J Larmour (Leinster), J Lowe (Leinster), M Lowry (Ulster), C Murray (Munster), J O’Brien (Leinster), G Ringrose (Leinster), J Sexton (Leinster, capt).

Officials chosen for URC final

Andrew Brace will referee this weekend's United Rugby Championship final between the Stormers and Bulls in Cape Town.

The Irish official will be assisted by an all-South African trio of Jaco Peyper and AJ Jacobs, while Marius van der Westhuizen is the TMO. It is the second time Brace has been handed the responsibility for the league decider having held the whistle for the 2021 PRO14 final between Leinster and Ulster in Dublin.

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.