News in Brief
Bledisloe Cup set to return to Asia
January 5, 2010
The Bledisloe Cup will likely return to Asia this season
© Getty Images
- Australia and New Zealand will likely play a fourth
Bleidisloe Cup Test in Asia again this year, although Australian Rugby Union (ARU) chief John O'Neill believes that it will likely be the last time that the fixture is played abroad.
With the impending inclusion of Argentina in the Tri-Nations, the opportunities for an extra fixture will be scarce given the added workload. In 2008 a fourth Bledisloe Test was staged in Hong Kong and in 2009 the fixture was a success at the National Stadium in Tokyo.
"I'm not sure whether it will be Hong Kong or Tokyo, but it's highly likely there will be a fourth Bledisloe," he told AAP. "This will probably be the last time, but we've been very happy with our experience in Hong Kong and Tokyo the last two years and one more trip to Asia would be, I think, a good idea for us and I think New Zealand agree."
- Cardiff Blues have confirmed that British & Irish Lions centre Jamie Roberts and Wales prop John Yapp have re-signed with the region until 2013. Roberts' commitment in particular is a boost to the struggling Magners League region given his status.
"I'm delighted to have signed a new contract with the Blues. Cardiff is my home city and I'm very passionate about sport in the city and Cardiff in general," he said. "I'm fortunate that I've tasted some success early in my career but I remain as focused as ever to play my part in a successful Cardiff Blues team. Last season's achievements and disappointments have driven myself and the whole squad to work harder and strive for bigger and better things."
- Northampton director of rugby Jim Mallinder has signed a two-year contract extension to remain with the Guinness Premiership club until 2013. Mallinder led the Saints to promotion from National One in 2008 and to the European Challenge Cup title in 2009.
- Former Australia fullback Chris Latham's future at Worcester is up in the air after Warriors chairman Cecil Duckworth admitted that there were several unresolved issues between club and player over a new contract.
"Chris wants to stay and we want him to stay, but there are a few things away from the pitch to be resolved before he can commit," Duckworth told The Worcester News. "He has to make a decision and, from our point of view, we have to know quite soon so we can make plans for a top-class replacement if necessary.
"Chris is playing fantastically and has hardly put a foot wrong. He is a class act, both on and off the field, but it needs to be resolved if he is going to stay here or go back to Australia. "We said we needed to know by the New Year and, after Saturday's game with London Irish, we have a break from the Guinness Premiership and we will be able to sit down with him and discuss the situation."
- Reigning Super 14 champions the Bulls will play two warm-up games against the Lions in Polokwane on January 30 ahead of their title defence. The Bulls have returned to training ahead of the new season, with team manager Wynie Strydom impressed by the players performance in early fitness tests.
"We commenced our training at Loftus on Monday with fitness tests and it was pleasing to see that all the guys are in excellent shape," he said. "Apart from injured players such as Bakkies Botha, Chiliboy Ralepelle and Akona Ndungane all the guys are fit and raring to go and I look forward to another splendid season."
- Queensland Reds flanker Daniel Braid is raring to go after recovering from injury and is hoping that alongside new signing Lei Tomiki he can make an immediate impact on this year's Super 14.
Braid underwent surgery twice in 2009 but has returned for pre-season training with the Reds at Ballymore.
"It will be interesting to see if we get the opportunity to play on the same field at the same time, similar to what the Wallabies did with George Smith and Phil Waugh," he said. "Those two were able to beat teams on the ground and really create some turnovers. Being able to put that sort of pressure on opposing teams could also lead to three points when we're in their half."
- Harlequins have signed lock Tomas Vallejos from Parma until the end of the season. The Argentinian has been brought in on a short-term deal following the retirement of Jim Evans.
- Aled Brew, Wayne Evans, Martyn Thomas and Tom Riley have all agreed two-year contract extensions with Newport-Gwent Dragons. Riley joined the squad from Newport's Principality Premiership side during an injury crisis at the start of the season and has held down a squad place since, now winning a contract with the Magners League side.