Here’s your round-up of all the latest rugby headlines for Friday, April 29.
Davies ready to finish career at Scarlets
Scarlets boss Dwayne Peel says Jonathan Davies is ready to finish his career at Parc y Scarlets.
The center has signed a new deal with the region, and will be looking to add to his 180 appearances in the red jersey. He’s also scored 51 tries during his time in Llanelli.
READ MORE: Wales’ biggest grudge match of the ’90s ends in uproar and bitterness
The 34-year-old took over the captaincy this season from Ken Owens, and news of his new deal comes as a big boost to Peel’s side. The length of the new contract isn’t clear, but Peel says Davies will see out his playing days with the Scarlets.
“Jon wants to finish his career here, he is playing his best rugby for a while. He seems happy with his body, he is moving well and is leading by example on and off the field, “said Peel.
“I have said this a lot this season, the way he and Scotty (Williams) have led when they have had the captaincy has been great to see. He is a world-class player, a Test Lion and it is important we get the maximum out of him, on and off the field.”
Smith considering retirement
All Blacks great Ben Smith says he is considering retirement.
Smith is currently set to see out the Japan Rugby League One season with the Kobe Steelers, before then returning to Dunedin when he will make a decision on his next move. And he admits that his career, which has yielded an impressive 84 appearances for the All Blacks, could be coming to an end.
“In another couple of weeks, I will sort of weigh it up, and retirement could definitely be on the cards,” wing flier and try scoring ace Smith said from Japan.
“I’ve had a pretty good run. So that could be it. This is a hard game to give up, and to say ‘that’s me, I’m done’ is something that is still a hard one to get across in my own head.
“At the same time, I’m looking forward to the challenge of whatever might come next, and getting a real job for a change.”
Geech names England’s greatest XV
Sir Ian McGeechan has named just one of Eddie Jones’ current stars in his greatest England XV.
The legendary Lions coach picked his side in a Telegraph column on the back of Jamie George saying Owen Farrell was ‘one of the best players that has played the game.’
McGeechan says he is a Farrell fan, but can’t find a place for him in the team as he names Jonny Wilkinson at 10 and Will Greenwood as his inside centre.
“You would have to put Jonny ahead of Farrell because, while they were similar players, I think Jonny really broke the mould. He was the first to show the 100 per cent dedication which went into goal-kicking and tactical kicking, the physicality which could be brought to bear from 10,” writes McGeechan.
“Farrell has those attributes, too, but in the end Jonny won a World Cup and was as good off either foot.”
“Honourable mention for Rob Andrew, a county class cricketer and excellent player.”
The only current star who makes the cut for McGeechan is Maro Itoje, who he picks next to Martin Johnson at lock.
But even then it was a cigarette paper’s width between Itoje and Simon Shaw who McGeechan says ‘was one of the best players I had, and so underrated. The way he competed against the best locking pair in the world in South Africa 2009 was off the charts.’
However he says of Itoje: “He has cut out many of the avoidable penalties and when England are up against it, you are seeing the best of him. Against Ireland this year, for instance. Ball carrier, spoiler, competitor, excellent line- out operator, and very good hands as well. Also a natural leader. Maturing.”
McGeechan’s best England XV: Jason Robinson; David Duckham, Jeremy Guscott, Will Greenwood, Rory Underwood; Jonny Wilkinson, Matt Dawson; Jason Leonard, Brian Moore, Fran Cotton, Martin Johnson, Maro Itoje, Richard Hill, Neil Back, Lawrence Dallaglio.
North finally back
George North finally makes his rugby return this weekend after more than a year out.
The blockbusting Wales and Lions wing will feature for the Ospreys against the Scarlets in Saturday’s United Rugby Championship derby in Swansea.
The 102-cap Wales international hasn’t been seen on a rugby pitch since rupturing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee playing for the Ospreys against Cardiff on April 24 last year. The injury cost him a place on the Lions tour of South Africa, and North has missed two Wales campaigns as well as almost a full season with the Ospreys.
But he’s ready to start back, with Ospreys head coach Toby Booth confirming “George is available. That’s the exciting part.” Read the full North returns story here
Cardiff are champs
Cardiff have been crowned Indigo Premiership champions after they crushed Merthyr 31-12 at the Arms Park.
Just a month ago the prospect of Steve Law’s side finishing top of the pile seemed inconceivable with Newport holding what looked like an unassailable 12-point lead at the top of the Premiership having beaten Cardiff 38-6. But an injury crisis in the Newport squad saw the Black & Ambers’ season fall apart, and Cardiff took full advantage by winning their final four games.
They were far too powerful for a Merthyr side on Thursday night and took the title.