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Scotland hooker George Turner to team up with former coach in Japan

By Josh Raisey
George Turner #2 of Scotland acknowledges the crowd after the Rugby World Cup France 2023 match between Ireland and Scotland at Stade de France on October 7, 2023 in Paris, France. (Photo by Craig Mercer/MB Media/Getty Images)

Scotland hooker George Turner has signed for Japan Rugby League One outfit Kobelco Kobe Steelers ahead of next season, as reported by RugbyPass. 

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The 31-year-old’s departure from Glasgow Warriors at the end of the season was announced recently, but the Steelers have finally confirmed a move that had been speculated for weeks.

Glasgow boss Franco Smith had been coy over his hooker’s future when questioned in April, saying “I can’t confirm or deny anything. I’m definitely sure they have had conversations, that I can tell you.”

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Damian de Allende talks about the plaudits heaped on him by his teammates

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Damian de Allende talks about the plaudits heaped on him by his teammates

Turner will team up with his former Warriors coach Dave Rennie in Japan, who guided his side to a fifth-place finish in the league this season.

The hooker has been a mainstay in Gregor Townsend’s Scotland team over the past 18 months, starting in 15 of their last 18 Tests, but this move will likely put his international career on hold for now.

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With Glasgow facing Munster in the United Rugby Championship semi-finals on Saturday at Thomond Park, Turner’s tenure with the team is not over yet. He returned from injury last week in the quarter-final victory over the Stormers, making his 100th appearance for the club from the bench. He will be gunning for two more appearances before he embarks for Japan.

“I’m really looking forward to playing for Kobe,” the 45-cap Scot said to his new club after his signing was announced.

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“I couldn’t pass up such a great opportunity to live and play in Japan, I’ve always wanted to go back since the World Cup.

“Kobe are a great team, and I can’t wait to add whatever I can to their success. It’s a wonderful adventure for myself but also my family, who will gain do much from the experience.
Japanese rugby is super exciting and I’m looking forward to taking on the challenge!”

It remains to be seen how the move will impact Turner’s Scotland career. There is nothing strictly precluding him from selection but the Japan Rugby League One schedule clashes directly with the Six Nations, placing his involvement in the tournament in obvious jeopardy.

Beyond Turner, Scotland currently have a shortage of obvious options at hooker, with Stuart McInally retiring last summer, Fraser Brown doing likewise this summer and Dave Cherry having dropped out of the national team picture since withdrawing from last year’s World Cup squad with a concussion sustained when he slipped on the stairs at the team hotel in Nice during a team day off.

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If Turner becomes unavailable as a result of his move, Edinburgh’s Ewan Ashman and free-scoring Glasgow forward Johnny Matthews would be the only established hookers available to head coach Townsend, who is due to face the media on Wednesday as he names his squad for the summer tour of North and South America.

Additional reporting from the PA. 

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M
Mzilikazi 45 minutes ago
Is Ireland versus South Africa a battle for the title of ‘world champions’?

Very good article, Nic, and I find agreement with what you write virtually 100%. I think this two mach series has increasingly become one which will be very difficult for Ireland to win. After the first game of the last 6N, I would have been very full of confidence taking on the Boks in SA. France beaten by a big margin in France, it looked as if Ireland had emerged in fine form from the World Cup, despite the very narrow loss to the AB’s. But after that game, a slide began, ending with the defeat to England. Ireland were very fortunate to win this years 6N ! And as you so fully expose, this has not been a good season for Leinster, or indeed, in my view, for any Irish province. The Leinster loos to the Bulls, and then Munster letting a glorious chance slip to the Glasgow Warriors down at Thomond. Man, that one will really hurt. And both Connacht and Ulster have at times looked very poor this seaso, bith heavily beaten on occassion. The loss of both Gibson Park and Keenan are huge blows, especially Gibson Park. And there is really only one clear class 10 in the touring party, Jack Crowley, and he is still a very young player learning his trade. If he goes down, heaven help Ireland. And in my view, Ireland do not have a good scrummaging front row, SA do, and in great depth too. But despite all this doom and gloom, I always believe my team can win. Not that they will win, just can ! Ireland will still field what is the best and most talented team overall that I have seen in my lifetime. But the coaching group will really have to step up, no awful decisions like the one made against the AB’s in the QF….keeping the totally spent and poorly performing(on the day) Sexton on for the full 80mins, leaving Crowley on the sidelines. Ireland should never have lost that game !

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S
Shaylen 3 hours ago
Is Ireland versus South Africa a battle for the title of ‘world champions’?

Ireland have all the tools required to hurt SA. They develop quick ball, hold onto the ball for long periods, stretch the game when its on, have powerful mobile forwards, a good kicking game and they can hold their own in the scrum. They also can force turnovers regularly and in general do well at the breakdown. When Munster, the Ospreys and Glasgow all won games in SA this year against the Bulls and Stormers they did just that and won. It is also the reason why Ireland won the game at the world cup last year. The problem for Ireland is that SA have all the tools required to hurt them as well and hurt them a great deal more than England did in the Six Nations. They are physical and powerful at the set piece, they rush up and counter the Irish attacking system and they can really attack the breakdown and slow your ball down. Their counterattacking threat is also a big weapon and they score many tries from turnover turning defence into offence in a second. Toulouse and the Bulls nailed Leinster in this way and Glasgow did the same thing to Munster. So the series will be really interesting because both sides are so good at countering each other. Interested to see what kind of surprises Tony Brown springs and how the SA game develops. Feel like SA have more potential to surprise Ireland but then a new coaching set up as well as the fact that Japanese and foreign based players tend to take about 5 to 6 weeks to get up to speed might work in Irelands favour. SA have shipped at least one game in 4 of the last 5 June/July test windows going back to 2018 for this exact reason.

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F
Flankly 5 hours ago
'Let them keep talking' - Mike Catt claps back over Bok remarks

The comments were reported weirdly. De Allende did say it would be war, but he said it amidst comments like “Ireland play such good footy”, and “they are so good at the breakdown”. He said that the Boks lost heavily to Ireland a few years back and that they felt the Irish press was dismissive of the Boks. I don’t recall that, but I suppose it is true, and that SA players would want to turn around that sentiment. The RWC loss to Ireland would naturally pour fuel on the fire. In short, it is a natural thing for passionate players like him to feel very strongly about the goal of registering a convincing series win against Ireland. There is really nothing to see here. As an aside, the SA team shouldn’t be too self-righteous about this kind of a situation. Recall that in 2004, after SA won the Ireland series in SA, Jake White noted that no more than two Irish players were good enough for selection in his Bok side. "Considering the facts, I think only two of their players would be included in the Bok team - O'Driscoll (centre) and maybe one of the locks. How could we have lost against the Irish?" O’Driscoll disagreed and said that it was close, and Ireland were just tired. My Irish friends were pretty incensed by the comments, quite rightly. And I am sure it was part of the energy that drove them to some famous wins against the Boks. The Etzebeth thing was a little different. I think he was just not hearing what was being said. It is not that unusual for someone to say “We will see you in the final”. Of course it is a statement of confidence, which every team should have, but it is also a compliment. I think there was a cultural fly-by, in which a “see you soon” comment was taken to mean “we will beat you again”. But it was a good story, and a convenient clickbaity headline. I don’t think anyone is intentionally trying to rile up anything. But if you interview a Bok player and prod them about their passion wrt the Ireland tour, you are likely to hear some pretty heartfelt words. And so you should.

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