Sarries end Etzebeth pursuit

Wed, 12 Oct 2016 21:33
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NEWS: European and English champions Saracens have called a halt to their pursuit of South Africa lock Eben Etzebeth.

The Premiership club had held talks with Stormers star Etzebeth over the possibility of signing him on a short-term basis once South Africa's tour of Europe is over.

Alistair Hargreaves' recent retirement due to concussion has left Saracens exposed in the second row, but Director of Rugby Mark McCall revealed Etzebeth will not be providing a temporary solution.

"I don't think that will happen," McCall said.

"Alistair has retired and we are looking for somebody who is available and eligible and they're quite difficult to find at this time of year.

"We've been exploring a couple of options and Etzebeth was one of them, but that looks like it won't happen.

"Signing him would have solved a problem until the end of January, but after that we'd have had to find a different solution.

"It's very hard to find someone who is good enough, who is available to get into this country and who is also out of contract.

"There are some second rows who become available at the end of January so we thought we'd get a double solution, but it doesn't look like it will happen."

* Meanwhile Leicester signed Argentina flank Tomas Leonardi on Wednesday as the English Premiership club bolstered their back row options after Mike Williams broke his arm.

Williams was in contention for an England place in this season's Tests, but he could be sidelined for three months following the injury he suffered ahead of Leicester's Premiership game against Worcester last Saturday.

In response, the Tigers moved for Leonardi, who heads to Welford Road from Japanese Super Rugby franchise the Sunwolves - where he made just five appearances out of a possible 16 games.

Leonardi won the last of his 18 caps in 2013 and has also had playing spells in Scotland, France and South Africa.

He can be registered for this season's European Champions Cup, with Leicester starting their campaign in Glasgow on Friday.

"Tomas has a lot of international experience," Leicester Director of Rugby Richard Cockerill said.

"He played for the Sunwolves in Super Rugby, he has been at Edinburgh and Toulouse, so he has European experience.

"In the light of Mike Williams's injury, we wanted to add some back row cover."

Agence France-Presse

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