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Tonight’s rugby news, with Warren Gatland given a huge boost and Owen Farrell’s international comeback scrapped
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Tonight’s rugby news, with Warren Gatland given a huge boost and Owen Farrell’s international comeback scrapped

These are your evening rugby news on Thursday, May 9.

The Wales captain returns

Ospreys and Wales star Jac Morgan is finally returning from his long-term injury.

The 24-year-old flanker suffered a knee injury at the end of 2023 and had to undergo surgery over the Christmas period to correct the problem. But Ospreys head coach Toby Booth has now confirmed that Morgan will be eligible for selection again after a five-month absence ahead of the region’s trip to Leinster on Saturday.

“Long-term injuries are emotionally difficult to deal with,” Booth explains. “It looks like we have long-term injuries or no injuries. That’s the nature of the beast.

“It’s great to have Jac back and there’s a different energy to the session we just did because of the caliber of the whole group and not just the starting team. There is no substitute for strength in depth. The competition for places keeps the energy, motivation and the bar high. We are happy with that.”

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Morgan missed the entire 2024 Six Nations and will now be eyeing a place in the Wales squad for the summer tour of Australia. His return is a boost for both Warren Gatland’s Wales and the Ospreys, with teammate Reuben Morgan-Williams excited to welcome him back to the team.

“It’s good,” Morgan-Williams said. “To be fair, he’s been hanging around for the past few months! But it’s nice to get him back in the mix and training. Everyone knows how good Jac is.

“It’s great to have him on the pitch, he adds that extra bit of competitiveness in training. All the boys meet those standards but he’s definitely one of the best.”

Farrell’s international comeback has been scrapped

Owen Farrell’s return to international rugby has kicked off after the star-studded competition he was due to take part in this summer was cancelled.

The former England captain – who left last year’s Test match to prioritize his and his family’s mental health – was scheduled to make his comeback by featuring for the World XV against France on June 22.

However, the match in Bilbao – which was also due to feature Semi Radrada, Camille Lopez and Billy and Mako Vunipola – has been canceled for “reasons relating to the organization of the match”, according to promoters Live Rugby.

Midi Olympique reports that a press release from the organizer issued on Thursday reads: “The promoter is trying to find a new date in the international calendar for the organization of this competition. Tickets already purchased will be fully refunded via the special website.”

Farrell will join Racing 92 at the end of the season, while Fabien Galthie’s side face a double-header against Argentina and Uruguay in July.

Hollis ready for Dragons debut

Ex-Stormers wing Chris Hollis will face his former side in his Dragons debut at Rodney Parade on Friday.

The 25-year-old ended up in the Welsh region at the end of last month after being released by South Africa. He is one of five changes made by head coach Dai Flanagan for the final home game of the season.

George Nott replaces the suspended Ben Carter on the second row, while flanker Harri Keddie also comes into the side. Will Reed and Dane Blacker form a new halfback partnership, while scrumhalf Morgan Lloyd could also make his debut after being named on the bench for the clash.

Cai Evans has been ruled out after breaking a bone in his tibia, while Angus O’Brien was set to step off the substitutes bench and make his 100th URC appearance.

“We have to be there and I’m sure it will be a great spectacle for everyone who comes to Rodney Parade. The Stormers transition game is the best I have ever seen,” said Flanagan. “When the game gets going, they light up. If there’s a loose kick, look out, if there’s a turnover, look out, if there’s an opportunity to get from behind the posts, they go.

“I explained to the players this week that transition can be our greatest friend or our greatest enemy. With players like Rio Dyer, Jordan Williams and Chris Hollis, we also enjoy transition play,” he added. “If we can win those transition battles, we can have a good day.”

Dragons: Jordan Williams; Rio Dyer, Steff Hughes (captain), Aneurin Owen, Chris Hollis; Will Reed, Dane Blacker; Rhodri Jones, Elliot Dee, Chris Coleman, Matthew Screech, George Nott, Sean Lonsdale, Harri Keddie, Aaron Wainwright.

Replacements: Brodie Coghlan, Rodrigo Martinez, Dmitri Arhip, James Benjamin, Taine Basham, Morgan Lloyd, Angus O’Brien, Sio Tomkinson.

Stormers: Warrick Gellant; Suleiman Hartzenberg, Wandisile Simelane, Dan du Plessis, Angelo Davids; Manie Libbok, Herschel Jantjies; Sti Sithole, Joseph Dweba, Frans Malherbe, Salmaan Moerat (captain), Ruben van Heerde, Willie Engelbrecht, Ben-Jason Dixon, Evan Roos.

Replacements: Andre-Hugo Venter, Brok Harris, Neethling Fouche, Adre Smith, Hacjivah Dayimani, Stefan Ungerer, Jean-Luc du Plessis, Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu.

Russell boost for Bath

By PA Sports Staff

Finn Russell has returned from injury to strengthen the closing stages of Bath’s challenge for the Gallagher Premiership title.

The Scottish fly-half limped off early European duty against Exeter on April 6 with a groin injury that his club described as “significant”, raising the prospect he could miss the rest of the season. But he has been reinstated in Bath’s starting line-up for their Premiership trip to Newcastle on Friday and will partner Ben Spencer at halfback.

Russell’s availability comes at a crucial time for the club as they target a play-off place in one of the most competitive seasons in the league’s history. Bath sit third in the table but are just one point ahead of fifth-placed Harlequins with two rounds of competition remaining.

Russell’s creative brilliance has been instrumental in their climb out of the doldrums to become serious contenders for the Saracens crown, while his return is also a boost for Scotland ahead of their summer tour to the Americas .