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Wales call up Ulster hooker as cover for Ken Owens

By Ian Cameron
(Photo by Getty Images)

Ulster have had to look to Ireland to supply them with a Welsh qualified hooker following an injury to frontrow veteran Ken Owens.

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Owens, sidelined by a back problem that will require a scan, has been replaced in the starting line-up set to face New Zealand this weekend by his fellow Scarlets hooker Ryan Elias, with uncapped Cardiff player Kirby Myhill providing bench cover.

Wales head coach Wayne Pivac said: “It’s a big blow to lose any player that you have initially selected. We have selected a certain side and trained a certain way. It is a disruption, but it’s a massive chance for Ryan.

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“Ken has got a back problem. We rested him from training on Tuesday, and we asked him to do a couple of things this morning. We checked him again just after lunch, and the decision was made that he won’t be right and we won’t risk him.”

However, the WRU have opted to add an additional hooker to their Autumn Nations Series squad, confirming a call-up for Ulster’s Bradley Roberts.

A WRU statement reads: “Wales have called on the services of hooker Bradley Roberts, following the announcement of Ken Owens’ back injury. The 25-year-old has made ten appearances for Ulster, most recently as a try scoring replacement against Connacht last weekend.

“South African-born Roberts has represented RGC before moving to Northern Ireland and later joining Ulster for the 2020/21 season.

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“Roberts is eligible to play for Wales through his paternal grandmother, who hailed from Llandysul.”

It’s been a meteoric rise for Roberts, who only signed his first professional contract earlier this year after joining Ulster as injury cover in 2020.

The 5’9, 108kg frontrow joined Ulster from Rainey Old Boys RFC as injury cover. The 25-year–old had been part of the Rainey set-up since 2017 and played a pivotal role in the club’s promotion to Division 2A of the All-Ireland League in the 2018/19 season.

– additional reporting PA

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finn 7 hours ago
Why the world needs a reverse Lions tour

I think there’s a lot of reasons this wouldn’t work, but if we’re just proposing fun things how about a “World Series” held the june/july following a world cup. The teams competing each four years would be: the current world champions The Pacific Islands The British & Irish Lions The World XV Barbarians FC to ensure all teams are fairly evenly matched, the current world champions would name their squad first; then The Pacific Islands would name next, and would be able to select any pacific qualified players not selected by the world champions, including players already “captured” by non-pacific nations who would otherwise have been eligible for selection (eg. Bundee Aki); the Lions would select next; and then The World XV and Barbarians FC would be left to fight over anyone not selected. Some people will point out that 5 teams is too many for a mid-year round robin, particularly as it would be nice to have a final as well; and they would be right! But because we’re just having fun here we’re going to innovate an entirely new format for rugby, where the round robin is played in one stadium over the course of one day, with each game lasting just 40 minutes with no half time or change of ends. The round robin decides the seedings for the knockouts, which are contested by all 5 teams in one stadium over the course of one day, according to the following schedule: Knockout Round 1: seed 5 v seed 4 (contested over 1 half of indetermined length, finishing when one team reaches 7 points) ~ 10 minute break ~ Quarter Final: winner of Round 1 v seed 3 (contested over 1 half of indetermined length, finishing when one team reaches 7 points) ~ 10 minute break ~ Semi Final: winner of Quarter Final v seed 2 (contested over 1 half of indetermined length, finishing when one team reaches 7 points) ~ 10 minute break ~ Final: winner of Semi Final v seed 1 (played as a standard 80 minute rugby match) for the round robin, teams would name a 15 man starting lineup and a 16 man bench. Substitutions during games can only be made for injuries, but any number of substitutions can be made between games. The same rules apply for the finals, except that we return to having a regular 8 man bench, and would allow substitutions as normal during the 80 minute final.

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