Saracens lock George Kruis could miss Munster clash
England secondrow could also miss Six Nations after being cited for tip tackle against Gloucester
England and Saracens lock George Kruis could be out for Munster’s vital Champions Cup fixture after he was cited for a tip tackle on Gloucester’s David Halaifonua. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
The Saracens and England second row George Kruis may miss the start of the Six Nations after being cited for a tip tackle on the Gloucester wing David Halaifonua during Friday night’s Premiership match at Kingsholm.
Kruis, who was involved in all four of England’s autumn internationals as a replacement, was shown a yellow card for the offence by the referee JP Doyle who, after reviewing the incident on the big screen at the ground, felt the tackle did not merit a red card because if had Halaifonua had not put out his arms to break his fall he would only have landed on his chest rather than his shoulder or head.
The television commentary team disagreed with Doyle and so did the Rugby Football Union’s citing officer, who ruled that the offence was worthy of a red. Kruis will appear before a three-strong panel in London on Tuesday evening and if it decides he was guilty and that there was an element of deliberation in the act, he could face a ban of eight weeks and miss most of the Six Nations.
The Gloucester hooker Darren Dawidiuk was banned for six weeks, two years ago, for an identical tackle on the Bath second row Dave Attwood that got him sent off. Last October, the Bath No8 Leroy Houston was cited for a dangerous tackle on the Wasps scrum-half Joe Simpson, earning him a ban of three weeks. He had been sent to the sin-bin for the offence and his suspension was halved because of his plea and the contrition he showed. The danger for Kruis is that if he contests the charge and loses he could face a suspension of at least five weeks because of the loss of mitigating factors.
Kruis was called up for England in the autumn because of injuries to Joe Launchbury and Geoff Parling in the second row. The latter is playing again for Leicester but Courtney Lawes has missed Northampton’s last three matches with an ankle injury and Kruis is likely to be named in the England squad next week. A ban would be felt by Saracens, who have two significant matches in the European Champions Cup this month in a tight pool, at home to Munster and then at Clermont Auvergne.
London Irish will have a new director of rugby next season after Brian Smith, who is in his second spell at the club after being part of Martin Johnson’s England management team, announced he would be returning to his native Australia where there are vacancies at Super 14 level. The former Ireland head coach Declan Kidney has been linked with the position, but much will depend on the playing budget.
London Irish have also been linked with the New Zealand prop Ben Franks after this year’s World Cup, but they have lost a number of players in their prime in recent years and will likely face a tougher battle for Premiership survival next season, with Bristol and Worcester vying to replace London Welsh.
Meanwhile, the former London Irish centre Jonathan Joseph, 23, who joined Bath two seasons ago, has signed a new contract at the Recreation Ground. The length of the new deal has not been revealed, but with Sam Burgess starting to make an impact in midfield and Kyle Eastmond established in the centre, Bath have ample resources there. “JJ is a very talented player who is on the verge of breaking into the England squad,” said the Bath head coach, Mike Ford. “He has been in fantastic form for us: he is a real threat and his defending is international class. He has matured in the last year or so and we are delighted he is staying with us.”
On the move, however, is the former Wales and Lions outside-half Stephen Jones, who is leaving Wasps’ coaching team at the end of the season to return to Scarlets, where he will replace Mark Jones as attack coach. Jones spent most of his playing career with Llanelli and then Scarlets, making more than 300 appearances. He finished it at Wasps and became a coach immediately after he retired as a player.
“I am grateful to Wasps for giving me the opportunity to start my coaching career and there are still exciting challenges ahead of us this season in the Premiership and Europe,” Jones said. “I am looking forward to helping develop my home region and helping some exciting young players through the ranks.”