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Sonny Bill joins All Blacks injury concerns

May 8, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 


Sonny Bill Williams has become the latest addition to the All Blacks injury concerns, suffering possible concussion in the Auckland Blues’ Super Rugby win over the NSW Waratahs in Sydney on Saturday.

Sonny Bill Williams


Captain Kieran Read, Jerome Kaino and Dane Coles head a list of senior players already in a race against time to be match fit before the British and Irish Lions arrive next month.

Double World Cup winning centre Williams left the field for a head injury assessment just before half-time and never returned.

Coach Tana Umaga told the New Zealand Herald he could not confirm the result of the assessment but Williams displayed concussion “symptoms”.

Williams was injured when team mate and prop Pauliasi Manu landed on him and Umaga said the team doctor advised he was not fit to return to the game.

“It will be a wait and see how he responds,” Umaga said.

“It’s just how he pulls up today, how he pulls up tomorrow. He was still having symptoms after the game.

“What’s happened with concussion in the past … sometimes people respond well and can play next week and sometimes they don’t.”

Williams’s injury comes as Charlie Ngatai returned to the Waikato Chiefs after a year sidelined by concussion.

He scored a crucial try in the Chiefs win over the Queensland Reds to join a logjam of fit centres with Test experience.

Also vying for a midfield slot against the Lions are Ryan Crotty, Malakai Fekitoa, Anton Leinert-Brown, George Moala and Seta Tamanivalu.

Barrett off the hook over red card

April 11, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 


All Blacks fly-half Beauden Barrett has escaped further punishment after receiving a red card in the Wellington Hurricanes’ Super Rugby win over NSW Waratahs last week.


The current World Rugby player of the year was sent off late in the match after receiving two yellow cards for deliberately knocking down the ball during Waratahs’ attacks.

The SANZAAR judiciary said it took Barrett’s exemplary disciplinary record into account before clearing him to play against the Auckland Blues this weekend.

“The player is therefore free to play and will serve no suspension,” it said in a ruling issued late Monday.

Barrett argued after the match that he was trying to intercept the ball but poor technique meant he knocked it down, rather than taking possession.

Waratahs prop Sekope Kepu was banned for one week after earning a yellow card in the same match for a dangerous tackle.

The judiciary said he received the suspension because it was his third yellow this season for similar offences.

Waratahs snatch victory as Stormers see red

May 1, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 


Skipper Michael Hooper scored a late try to help the NSW Waratahs triumph 32-30 over the 14-man Western Stormers Saturday in a Super Rugby thriller in Cape Town.


Flanker and official man of the match Hooper dived over under the posts after the Australians won a scrum against the head and fly-half Bernard Foley won the game with an easy conversion.

Stormers were reduced to 14 men after 57 minutes of the round 10 clash when winger Lionel Zas was red-carded by New Zealand referee MIke Fraser after an aerial collision with Foley.

The Wallaby playmaker landed on his head and shoulder, but continued playing after treatment.

Stormers supporters in the 25,000 Newlands stadium crowd booed the decision, but TV analyst and former Springboks coach Nick Mallett said the referee made the correct decision.

“The law is very clear — the higher player has all the rights and that was Foley,” he told SuperSport viewers.

“If both players are an equal distance off the ground then it is a fair contest. That was not the case in the incident between Foley and Zas.”

Fellow analyst and former Springboks fly-half Naas Botha agreed.

“If you are half a second late in contesting the ball, you must wait until your opponent reaches the ground, then try and turn him round,” said the drop-goal legend.

It was the second Super Rugby red card in successive weekends after an aerial collision.

New Zealander Jason Emery of the Otago Highlanders was sent off in Dunedin following an incident with South African Willie le Roux of the Coastal Sharks.

Hooper was thrilled after the Waratahs achieved a fourth win in eight matches to move within two points of Australia conference frontrunners the Melbourne Rebels.

“It is fantastic to win at Newlands,” he said. “We capitalised on limited possession to triumph and this success is a step in the right direction.”

Stormers skipper and centre Juan de Jongh said: “We played some of our best rugby this season during the first half, but it was tough when a man short.”

The bonus point the Cape Town team secured for losing by seven or fewer points gave them a one-point lead over fellow South Africans Northern Bulls in the Africa 1 standings.

Waratahs centre Kurtley Beale opened the scoring with a try and the Stormers responded with two, from flanker Schalk Burger and lock Pieter-Steph du Toit, with fly-half Jean-Luc du Plessis converting both.

A brilliant try by full-back Israel Folau, which Foley converted, left the Australians trailing 14-12 at half-time.

Du Plessis and Foley kicked two penalties each before Zas saw red.

Another Du Plessis penalty stretched the lead to five points, then a blindside break gave Waratahs winger Rob Horne a try that Foley converted for a two-point lead.

A second Du Toit try, converted by Du Plessis, put the hosts 30-25 ahead before Hooper struck the decisive blow for the Sydney side.

Guildford offered Super Rugby lifeline by Waratahs

September 16, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 


Former All Blacks winger Zac Guildford has been handed a Super Rugby lifeline by the New South Wales Waratahs and will join the team for next season.

New Zealand All Blacks' Zac Guildford scores a try during their Rugby World Cup Pool A match against Canada at Wellington Regional Stadium October 2, 2011. REUTERS/JACKY NAEGELEN

The 26-year-old was given a 10-month contract by the 2014 champions after he returned to New Zealand following an early release from a two-year deal with French side Clermont.

He linked up with his home province Hawke’s Bay in New Zealand’s domestic championship upon his return and had indicated last month there had been interest from the Waratahs though local media later reported he had had second thoughts about moving to Sydney.

The 10-test winger’s career in New Zealand had been blighted by alcohol-related discipline issues and he left the Canterbury Crusaders to play in France in 2014.

Waratahs head coach Daryl Gibson, previously an assistant coach at the Crusaders, said the 2011 World Cup winner would continue to work on his off-field issues and he had faith he would be able to overcome them.

“I’ve spoken with Zac extensively, and he is prepared to earn the respect of his team mates through his actions, and to uphold the values of our club,” Gibson said in a statement.

“He’s probably been carrying that bad-boy baggage around with him for the past few years, and from my observations he has moved past it and grown up a bit … his challenge will be to demonstrate he can make good choices and prove that.

“Of course his signature comes with risks for both parties, but we strongly believe in his ability and will support him with his efforts to continue his rugby career, he’s highly motivated and aspirational about his career so our challenge will be to get the best out of him.”

Former All Black Guildford eyes Waratahs move

July 31, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 


Troubled former All Black Zac Guildford said Wednesday the NSW Waratahs had offered him a contract for next season, handing yet another lifeline to the one-time bad boy of New Zealand rugby.


Still only 26, Guildford’s career has been blighted by alcohol issues and he walked out of a contract with French Top 14 side Clermont in May citing “personal reasons”.

Since then, the winger — who scored six tries in 10 Tests for the All Blacks — has been playing for his home provincial team Hawke’s Bay.

Guildford said Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson had approached him about joining the Sydney-based Super Rugby side, who lost wingers Peter Betham and Taqele Naiyaravoro at the end of the 2015 season.

Guildford and Gibson, himself a former All Black, worked together when Gibson was assistant coach at the Canterbury Crusaders.

“I had a little bit of interest from New Zealand Super teams but I got on really well with Daryl Gibson at the Crusaders,” Guildford told Radio Sport.

“I felt like I was appreciated and I played some of my best rugby under him. If I can get excited about playing for someone in a team that I’m excited about, that’s when I play my best footy.”

Guildford was relishing the prospect of playing alongside Waratahs Kurtley Beale and Bernard Foley, saying they could create gaps for him to exploit.

He said the move to the 2014 Super 15 champions had not been finalised but was “looking likely”.

“I’ve got the contract there and it’s just about inking it and going from there, finding a place to live and things like that,” he said.

Guildford made his All Black debut against Wales in 2009 at the age of 20 and was part of the 2011 World Cup winning squad.

His alcohol problems first emerged publicly during the tournament, when he was reprimanded by All Blacks’ management.

Just weeks later, he had a meltdown while holidaying in the Cook Islands, running naked into a bar and punching two men.

Then in January 2013 he allegedly became involved in a brawl at a party in Christchurch, prompting him temporarily to withdraw from rugby and seek help.

His issues stem in part from the personal tragedy that struck him in 2009, when his father died of a heart attack while watching from the stands as his son and his New Zealand teammates won the Junior World Cup in Tokyo.

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