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Fissler Confidential: Sharks hunt Bok as Prem club launch desperate search

By Neil Fissler
Joseph Dweba of the Stormers celebrates after scoring a try during the United Rugby Championship match between DHL Stormers and Edinburgh at DHL Stadium on October 01, 2022 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

Rugby transfers: Sale Sharks are keen on signing Springboks hooker Joseph Dweba from the Stormers despite failing with an earlier bid to prise him away from the Cape Town-based United Rugby Championship side.

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The 28-year-old, who has won six caps since making his debut in The Rugby Championship win over Argentina in August 2021, played 20 times for the Stormers this season, whom he joined from Bordeaux in 2022.

He started his career in Super Rugby with the Cheetahs and is rated highly by Sharks boss Alex Sanderson, who is trying to sign a hooker, but Dweba is believed to be keen on staying in South Africa.

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Rassie Erasmus unpacks Tony Brown

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Rassie Erasmus unpacks Tony Brown

Saracens might still be desperately seeking a lock for next season, but a return to North London for Joel Kpoku is off the cards after he joined Pau when his contract runs out this summer. The 24-year-old ex-England U20s international, from Newham in East London, started playing rugby league with London Skolars before switching codes to the Saracens academy.

He moved to Lyon in November 2021. One of three Congolese heritage brothers – Jonathan plays for Bourgoin and Junior for Racing 92 – Joel played 23 games for Lyon this season and has signed a three-year deal with the Stade du Hameau outfit.

The Stormers are locked in a bitter tug-of-war with the Bulls over scrum-half Paul de Wet despite him having another year left on his contract. Jake White wants to sign a scrum-half this summer and the 28-year-old, who made 17 appearances and this season and scored one of his four tries in the URC quarter-final defeat to Glasgow last weekend, is the man he wants.

The Stormers are desperately trying to stop de Wet, who made his Currie Cup debut in 2017 and then his Super Rugby bow a year later, from plying his trade in Pretoria next season.

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Gallagher Premiership champions Northampton Saints have launched a search for a new centre less than a week after their stunning 25-21 final victory over Bath at Twickenham. Saints sent out a circular to agents seeking a player who doesn’t have to be English-qualified, can play either inside or outside centre, and is immediately available for a move to the East Midlands.

Exeter Chiefs are another Premiership club that have been looking to improve its midfield in recent months, while Newcastle Falcons boss Steve Diamond has identified it as an area of his squad he also wants to strengthen.

Top 14 outfit Lyon are hoping it is fifth time lucky as they look to improve the middle of their front row for next season after finishing 11th this season. Having released former All Black Liam Coltman, despite the 34-year-old making 46 appearances in his two seasons in France following his switch from the Highlanders, they have a hooker at the top of their shopping list.

In the last few months, they have failed to get deals for George McGuigan, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Sam Matevasi, and, more recently, Seb Blake across the line and they are getting increasingly desperate.

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Vannes, who were promoted to the Top 14 after beating Grenoble 16-9 in the Pro D2 final at Stade Ernest Wallon last weekend, have launched a massive operation to improve their squad. Based in Brittany in north-western France, they have already signed four players, including Chilean centre Inaki Ayarza, and are battling to get their business done to beat the transfer deadline.

They are looking for a loosehead, a tighthead, two back rows, an inside centre and a full-back following their elevation into the French top flight.

Heyneke Meyer raised more than a few eyebrows last weekend when he admitted that he wants to leave Major League Rugby outfit Houston SaberCats when his contract runs out later this year. Meyer said he wanted to leave the SaberCats, where he had been working for the last couple of years, to return to South Africa, and our South African sources believe he might have played his hand too early.

It has been pointed out that top jobs in South African rugby are at a premium. Just ask Johan Ackermann, who is now staying at Japanese outfit Urayasu D-Rocks because there were no jobs available at home.

Leicester Tigers, who have been quiet in the transfer market this summer, have made a late bid to add another fly-half to their squad for next season. The Tigers have made two confined signings for next season after luring Wales loosehead Nicky Smith from the Ospreys and Wallaby outside centre Izaia Perese from the NSW Waratahs.

They now want a third choice behind World Cup-winning fly-half Handre Pollard and Jamie Shillcock to replace Kieran Wilkinson, who is Newcastle-bound when his contract runs out later this month.

Ulster boss Richie Murphy has signed up his own son Jack, a fly-half, who will combine playing with studying at Queen’s University later this year. He moves to Belfast after the World Rugby U20 Championship along with Wilhelm de Klerk, his international teammate, who is also hoping to secure himself a place at the same university.

Ulster have also signed up Bryn Ward, the son of former Ireland back row Andy, who was a standout performer for Ireland U20s in their recent Six Nations campaign as an open-side flanker.

Cardiff, Ospreys and Dragons are all still locked in a three-way battle to land Wales and Lions full-back Liam Williams, who recently won a surprise recall to Warren Gatland’s squad. The 33-year-old, who has won 89 Test caps for Wales and been under contract to Japanese outfit Kubota Spears, has been called up for the summer games versus South Africa and Australia.

A decision on his future might have to wait until Wales return from Australia if he makes the cut when Gatland reduces his squad after next weekend’s Test with the Springboks in London.

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M
Mzilikazi 5 hours ago
Daugunu salvo shows why Wallabies work-rate is everything to Schmidt

Nice article, Brett, and good to be writing about a second win. I think Georgia will be far more testing. Tbh, I have not looked at their touring squad, but at full strength they are a far better and more dangerous team than they were at RWC France. They would have been disappointed they did not perform to full potential there. I think that the WB’s under Joe Schmidt have started soundly. Recovery from a serious setback always takes time. And the Jones era was that and more. I think the arrival of Les Kiss back to his native Qld. is a very positive factor, and the fact that he and Schmidt know each other well is a help. Players I think are much improved this year: Daugunu, who has blossomed with the Rebels, so credit to the coaching unit down there. Am pleased he will come back to the Reds. McReight is said to have put on up to 7 kgs since last season. His work rate has always been good, but it is his carrying into contact that has gone up. Now makes those critical one or two metres post contact very often. Is conceding fewer penalties now as his game matures. Rob Valetini was good last year, but is now a greater force this one. A really punishing ball carrier. Hunter Paisami is now a more controlled player. His carrying into contact is very impressive for an 80 kg man. Interestingly, if you saw Nick Bishops latest article, he has a team for RC with Kerevi at 12. Also Skelton in the team. Not sure if there will be o’seas players as early as RC though….but need them in by the EYOT games.

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