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Fissler Confidential: Wallaby medical and England prop faces axe

By Neil Fissler
Hunter Paisami of the Queensland Reds warms up during the round eight Super Rugby Pacific match between Moana Pasifika and Queensland Reds at Semenoff Stadium, on April 12, 2024, in Whangarei, New Zealand. (Photo by Fiona Goodall/Getty Images)

Exeter Chiefs will complete the signing of Hunter Paisami after the Wallaby centre underwent a medical Down Under ahead of the move.

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It was reported last week that the Chiefs were locked in a tug-of-war with Rugby Australia over Paisami, who can play in either centre position.

But Fissler Confidential understands that the 26-year-old Queensland Reds ace, who has won 26 test caps, had the vital checks last week.

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Rob Baxter had a centre at the top of his wanted list despite the club hanging onto England star Henry Slade, as we revealed on Thursday, and has quickly snapped up the Samoan-born ace.

Montpellier are weighing up dumping former England tighthead Harry Williams just a season into a two-year deal he signed after leaving Exeter Chiefs last summer.

Williams, 32, has started seven of his 12 appearances for Montpellier but could become the victim of an end-of-season clear-out after they slipped to 13th, five points behind Bayonne with President Mohed Altrad looking to make huge changes.

Sale Sharks, Saracens and the Scarlets are all looking for a tight head for next season, and Williams, who would be hammered when his 45 per cent take rate increases with a higher rate pay-off tax, could become a target for any of them.

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Williams England Exeter
(Photo by Dan Mullan/The RFU Collection via Getty Images)

Sweden are keen for Harlequins scrum-half Max Green to join their growing band of UK and Irish-based talent as they eye up their highest-profile swoop to improve Alex Leybourne’s Rugby Europe Men’s Trophy squad.

Bedford-born Green, 28, won Swedish under-18 international honours as a 16-year-old fly-half before helping England under-20s win the 2016 Junior World Cup. However, Sweden, ranked 33rd in the world, have now targeted Green for full international honours.

Green qualifies for Sweden through his mother and could join Axel Kalling-Smith, who plays for the Rams, Newcastle University’s Elias Granath and Coventry’s Raymond Kanyasa in Leybourne’s side.

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Richie Murphy is poised to stay with cash-strapped United Rugby Championship outfit Ulster next season as Fissler Confidential sources in Ireland suggest that he will sign the one-year contract that is on the table.

Richie Murphy
Ulster interim coach Richie Murphy before the United Rugby Championship match between DHL Stormers and Ulster at DHL Stadium in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo By Shaun Roy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Murphy became Ulster’s interim head coach until the end of the season following Dan McFarland’s departure, and his fly-half son Jack’s joining from Leinster is being taken as a strong indicator that he is staying.

It would appear that the permanent appointment will not be formally announced until the club has appointed a new chief executive following Johnny Petrie’s departure.

Gloucester are set to make changes to their academy coaching structure ahead of next season and the departure of talent who have turned down a contract for next season.

It is understood that a player seen as one of the brightest was unhappy about the quality of the game, and that has been the catalyst for Gloucester’s change. The club has struggled in the Premiership this season, with only Newcastle Falcons below them in the table.

The news suggests that Director of Academy and Development Carl Hogg and Kevin Harman appear to be in the firing line, with their heads firmly on the chopping block.

Cardiff have snapped up former full-back Jonny Goodridge to fill a hole as assistant attack/skills coach in Matt Sherratt’s Matt backroom team at the Arms Park following the departure of Richie Rees.

The highly-rated Goodridge knows Sherratt well from their time together at Worcester and has been working at Hartpury University since the demise of the Premiership outfit but found a move to Cardiff hard to resist.

Meanwhile, Saracens could be looking for a new academy, and women’s forwards coach Juan Figallo is being lined up for a potential move to Italy at the end of the season.

Bulls’ hooker/prop Jan-Hendrik Wessels has turned down a possible return to France next season after penning a two-year extension to his Loftus Versfeld deal.

Jan-Hendrik Wessels
Jan-Hendrik Wessels of Vodacom Bulls takes on Kieran Marmion of Bristol Bears during the Investec Champions Cup match between Bristol Bears and Vodacom Bulls at Ashton Gate on January 13, 2024 in Bristol, England. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Wessels, 23, who has made ten appearances for Jake White’s side this season, had a spell at Clermont Auvergne as a youth before returning to South Africa to start his professional career with the Bulls.

“I have enjoyed my time here since joining the senior squad. I want to continue representing this proud union, which has shown faith in me by making the offer to stay,” said the Bloemfontein-born front-row star.

Clermont Auvergne have given veteran fly-half Benjamin Urdapilleta another one-year contract despite him celebrating his 38th birthday in March.

Argentinean Urdapilleta, who joined Harlequins back in 2010, has been rewarded for making 14 appearances in the Top 14, scoring 102 points by putting pen to paper on a contract until the end of next season.

He moved to ASM last season after playing 178 games for Castres, whom he helped win a fifth Top 14 title in 2018 following a move from Oyonnax, where he played 48 times when he first moved across the channel.

Alex Codling admits that he is ready to return to rugby following his disastrous spell in charge of the Premiership’s basement side, Newcastle Falcons. During his tenure, he saw them lose all 11 of their league matches.

Codling has used LinkedIn to advertise that he is ready to take on his next challenge and return to his first love: line-out coaching.

“To become a line-out expert as a player, or as Keith Wood used to call me, a “line out naws” was my Everest. I am ready to go back to that first love, line-outs, and to help a new team benefit from this obsession,” he said.

Leicester City’s billionaire owner, Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha, wants to help Thailand and launch a partnership with the city’s rugby team, Leicester Tigers.

Srivaddhanaprabha wants to create a rugby academy in his homeland. He owns the Thai travel retail group King Power, which is based in Bangkok and sends Thai players to England to learn from the Tigers.

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