News in Brief
Mapusua scoops Players' award
May 14, 2009
London Irish's Seilala Mapusua dives over to score a try, London Irish v Leicester Tigers, Guinness Premiership, Madejski Stadium, Reading, England, March 1, 2009
Exiles centre Seilala Mapusua ha scooped the prestigious Players' Player of the Year award © Getty Images

  • London Irish centre Seilala Mapusua has won the prestigious Players' Player of the Year award at the annual Professional Rugby Players' Association (PRA) awards. Mapusua was voted for by his peers and beat competition from Newcastle's Tom May and Sale's departing skipper Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe.

    "It's a very humbling honour and a great surprise to be recognised with this award," said Mapusua, who has been instrumental in the Exiles' route to the Guinness Premiership final. "I've enjoyed this season immensely, and to receive this award is a great bonus. This season has been fantastic, both for me and London Irish, and getting to our first Guinness Premiership Final is something we have all worked very hard for. I'm looking forward to giving it a good crack on Saturday and hopefully finishing the season with another trophy to add to this one."

    Northampton fullback Ben Foden scooped the Young Player of the Year award ahead of Leicester's Tom Croft.

    London Irish coach Toby Booth has also questioned the decision not to consider veteran fly-half Mike Catt for action with the British and Irish Lions in South Africa this summer. Booth made his thoughts clear following Catt's superb performance in guiding the Exiles to victory over Harlequins in the Guinness Premiership semi-final at the Stoop last weekend.

    "He should be going with the British and Irish Lions shouldn't he? From what you saw at the weekend find me someone who is better," said Booth. "I can't speak highly enough of him. He is humble as well which is quite remarkable with so many superstars around. I am just pleased he is here and nowhere else.

    "You saw in the semi-finals what Catty could bring to the party both as a player but as a game captain out on the pitch. He has been a testament to himself over his playing career, to his family and to London Irish."

  • In-form Wallaby and Queensland Reds back Digby Ioane will undergo reconstructive surgery on his injured shoulder which could keep him out of the game for up to six months. Reds Coach Phil Mooney said the decision to have an operation was made after a specialist examined Ioane.

    "It's a real blow for Digby, who I'm sure would have walked into the Wallaby side this year on the back of his exceptional performances for the Reds at outside centre this season," said Mooney. "The news also came as a shock to Digby. He's never faced such a long period on the sidelines before so he's getting his head around that reality.

    "When it didn't improve we sought specialist advice and, after consultation, we decided the best course for Digby was to have the operation done as soon as possible," Mooney said. "When I spoke to (Wallaby Coach) Robbie Deans about it, we agreed it would give Digby time to really get himself into the best possible shape to attack the 2010 season."

  • Premier Rugby, the umbrella organisation responsible for the Guinness Premiership clubs, have announced a one-year extension to their sponsorship deal with Diageo, owners of Guinness. The deal has been extended to the end of the 2009-10 season.

  • Gloucester have signed Samoan international centre Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu from Guinness Premiership rivals Bath in a bid to bulk up their midfield in time for next season. Fuimaono-Sapolu has 12 caps for Samoa and has shown his versatility in winning half of his caps at fly-half since the 2007 Rugby World Cup.

  • Northampton Saints have signed 15-times-capped Argentina prop Santiago Bonorino on a one-year deal for the 2009-10 season. As Bonorino joins from Leicester, academy coach Ali Hepher has left the club however, to take up a role as attack coach with Exeter Chiefs.

  • Newport Gwent Dragons have strengthened their front-row ranks with the signing of former Wasps prop Ali McKenzie from Italian side Calvisano. The Welsh side have also been boosted with the news that Hugh Gustafson has signed a new one-year deal.

  • Saracens have continued their recent front-row recruitment drive by signing Wales U21 prop Rhys Gill from Cardiff Blues on the recommendation of scrummaging coach Cobus Visagie.


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