News in Brief
Blues swoop for Warrior Parks
January 4, 2010

  • Cardiff Blues have announced the signing of Scottish international fly-half Dan Parks from fellow Magners League side Glasgow Warriors.

    Parks recently became the first player to break the 1,000 points barrier in Celtic competition and will compete for the No.10 jersey with Australian Sam Norton-Knight and Welsh international Ceri Sweeney next season. Norton-Knight was a high-profile signing for the Blues over the summer as a replacement for the Gloucester-bound Nick Robinson, but has struggled in his new surroundings.

    Born in New South Wales, Parks has 47 Scotland caps due to a Scottish grandfather and is in line for a Six Nations recall after a string of impressive performances for the Warriors.

    "We are obviously aware of Dan's qualities as an outside-half from numerous encounters with Glasgow over the years," said Blues boss Dai Young. "He is a quality player who has often been the difference between the two teams and a real thorn in our side on a number of occasions. His organisational skills and game understanding makes him a real general on the pitch and he has excellent communication skills."

  • Scarlets fly-half Stephen Jones will be out for two weeks after picking up a shoulder injury in his side's New Year's Eve victory over the Dragons at Rodney Parade. The Scarlets are expecting the British & Irish Lion to return for their January 17 Heineken Cup fixture against London Irish in what is a big boost for Wales coach Warren Gatland ahead of the Six Nations.

  • Euan Murray is set to miss Northampton's pivotal Heineken Cup meeting with Perpignan on January 17 due to his self-imposed Sunday playing ban. The prop, a devout Christian, refuses to play on religious grounds and will also miss Scotland's opening Six Nations fixture against France on Fenruary 7.

  • The New South Wales Waratahs are hoping to have Australia vice-captain Berrick Barnes available for their Super 14 trial game against the Brumbies on February 4. Barnes has not played since an ankle injury ruled him out of the Wallabies' northern hemisphere tour but has made good progress with his rehab.

    The Waratahs have returned to training ahead of the new season and are preparing for further warm-ups against the Reds and Fiji Warriors in late January. Wallaby tourists Luke Burgess, Dean Mumm, Sekope Kepu and Dave Dennis are already back in action, with their remaining internationals expected to filter back in the coming weeks.

    "The seven-week training block before Christmas was really positive - there was a great energy around the place and we saw fantastic results in all of our physical testing," head coach Chris Hickey said. "Now with more senior players coming back, it will give those players who have been training since November another boost.

    "You don't win the competition in January, but unless you get things right at this part of the year, then you're going to start the Super 14 on the back foot. There's a lot of competition for places within the squad, and there are a lot of combinations we're going to have a look at over the coming weeks."

  • Wales backs coach Rob Howley has admitted that Jamie Roberts will return to the No.12 jersey in the Six Nations after a failed experiment at outside-centre during November Tests against Argentina and Australia.

    Roberts was shifted out following an injury to Tom Shanklin and failed to make an impact alongside rookie Jonathan Davies. The coaching team could also look at James Hook as a second playmaker alongside Stephen Jones in the continued absence of Gavin Henson, but were impressed by Roberts' performance in the Barbarians' defeat of New Zealand at Twickenham in December.

    "Jamie has become a bit of a marked man," Howley told The Western Mail. "We tried him out at 13 in the autumn, with the injury to Tom Shanklin, and we also wanted to see Jonathan Davies at 12. But we were pleased with Jamie's display for the Barbarians against New Zealand.

    "It proved he was a natural 12 and playing at 13 did not bring the best out of Jamie. We would like to see Jamie back in his incumbent 12 position."

  • The RFU has unveiled Simon Hardy and Andy Farrell as assistants to England Saxons head coach Stuart Lancaster. Former England international Farrell is also skills coach at Saracens, while Hardy is working with the National Academy. The duo will be in place for the Saxons' forthcoming fixtures with Ireland 'A' and Italy 'A'.

  • Newcastle boss Steve Bates has warned his side not to lose focus after a hard-fought 12-6 Guinness Premiership win over Wasps at Adams Park. The victory was the Falcons' first at the ground and moved them into playoff contention in sixth position.

    "We must be very careful. When people suggest we are looking up or down, our attention tends to drift," he said. "We have to stay focused and make sure we become more consistent. We're pretty competitive. We're used to playing at high pace and want to play at high pace.

    "Against Wasps we showed we can compete with one of the top teams in the league who like to play rugby. That's a real boost for us and we'll gain a lot of confidence from this victory. Our problem is consistency. There are bits of our game that are very potent and other bits that are error-strewn. We need to tighten that up."


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