Tigers set sights on Rossouw
September 21, 2008
Could Rossouw be gracing the Premiership next season? © Getty Images
Leicester are tracking South African World Cup winner Danie Rossouw as the player to replace Martin Corry.
Tigers skipper and former England captain Corry is set to retire at the end of this season, with the current Guinness Premiership leaders already making plans for next term. They have spoken to 30-year-old Rossouw, whose try-saving tackle on England wing Mark Cueto in Paris last October underpinned South Africa's World Cup final triumph.
Back-row forward Rossouw was part of the Bulls' Super 14 squad previously coached by current Leicester boss Heyneke Meyer. Tigers are also in the market for a top-class wing, and while Fijian flyer Rupeni Caucaunibuca has been linked with a move to Leicester, Meyer could snap up New Zealander Scott Hamilton instead.
Hamilton, who played for the All Blacks against Argentina and South Africa in 2006, might move to Welford Road before Christmas, amid continuing uncertainty about Caucaunibuca's intentions. On the field, Tigers recorded a third successive Premiership victory under Meyer's direction by subduing Worcester 19-17 at Sixways.
Watched by a record home crowd of 10,500, Worcester led through tries from prop Matt Mullan and number eight Netani Talei before Leicester's French scrum-half Julien Dupuy converted his own touchdown with regular Tigers goalkicker Toby Flood in the sin-bin.
Flood had earlier booted four penalties as Leicester built promisingly towards next Friday night's Welford Road appointment with champions Wasps.
Meyer said: ''It was high-intensity rugby - one of the best games I've seen in the Premiership. We have worked really hard on our fitness, and if it wasn't for our fitness, we would have lost that game.''
Worcester rugby director Mike Ruddock predicted a glittering future for 22-year-old Mullan, who was one of six Warriors academy products in the starting line-up.
Ruddock said: ''Matt will go on to play for England, in my opinion. He has the work-rate of a back-row forward, and he also gives a unique bench option because he can cover the hooker position as well.
''I would have thought he is worthy of an (England) Saxons place at the end of the season.''
An intense contest took its toll, with Warriors' Australian full-back star Chris Latham taken to hospital after he was left dazed following a second-half collision, and their Wales prop Chris Horsman limping off nursing a leg injury.
Ruddock added: ''Despite going to hospital, we don't anticipate anything sinister. Whether he (Latham) is available for next week is another thing. Chris Horsman suffered a dead leg. He tried to run it off, and couldn't. It is a soft tissue issue, so it shouldn't be too bad, but he is distraught because he wants to be playing.''
Harlequins lost their unbeaten league record through a 24-20 defeat against Kingsholm hosts Gloucester.
But Quins chief Dean Richards claimed opposite number Dean Ryan was guilty of ''lambasting'' match referee Rob Debney in the tunnel at half-time, although he is unlikely to take the matter up with Rugby Football Union head of elite referees Ed Morrison.
Richards said: ''When you come in at half-time and their head coach is lambasting the referee 7-3 (penalty count) down, and when you go out in the second half and you lose the penalty count 8-0, it begs the question 'What is going on?'.
''Perhaps I am being a little too polite. I know Rob, and I like Rob as a person. I think that he is a more than capable referee, but this (Kingsholm) is a very difficult environment to referee in, and when you get undue pressure like that then it makes it more difficult.
''We didn't get the rub of the green with the referee in the second-half - exactly the same as last year - so what do you expect when you come down here?''
Ryan, though, countered: ''I didn't have a go at the referee. I asked him for clarity over the ruck law - I asked if people should be on their feet who clearly weren't.
''We've been contesting ball quite successfully for two weeks, and suddenly we don't get one penalty to the attacking side or one turnover, so I asked him for clarity of his interpretation.''
Debney, who was taking charge of his 40th Premiership game, said: ''As I walked to my dressing room at half-time, both coaches politely came up to me. When they do that, I am not going to just put my fingers in my ears.''
Olly Barkley landed a drop-goal and penalty for Gloucester on his club debut, leaving Quins to reflect on a losing bonus point, despite tries for Mike Brown, Danny Care and Chris Malone.
Wasps' 24-20 loss at Northampton means they have started a Premiership campaign with three successive defeats for the first time.
Dave Walder kicked five penalties and Dominic Waldouck scored a try, but Saints prospered though touchdowns by Bruce Reihana, Chris Ashton and Sean Lamont.
Wasps rugby director Ian McGeechan said: ''Northampton got the ball in the right places, and we didn't do it as well, or as often.
''It's disappointing for us, but we will just keep our heads down and keep working. Some of our decision-making at the moment isn't as astute as it should be.''
Life might not get any easier for McGeechan though, with forwards James Haskell and Richard Birkett both facing RFU disciplinary hearings tomorrow after being cited following alleged incidents during Wasps' 11-10 defeat against Worcester seven days ago.
Bath, meanwhile, recovered from losing at home to Gloucester last weekend by seeing off Madejksi Stadium hosts London Irish 20-16, with Jack Cuthbert and Butch James kicking five penalties between them.