Today's rugby news as Six Nations star returns after jail sentence and All Black switches allegiance

Mohamed Haouas of France playing against Wales in 2020
Mohamed Haouas of France playing against Wales in 2020 -Credit:© Huw Evans Picture Agency

Here are your rugby headlines for Wednesday, April 17.

Six Nations star gets another chance

Shamed France prop Mohamed Haouas is to be given another chance in rugby's top tier after his return to Montpellier was announced.

The Top 14 side saying have given him a one-year contract that is “conditional on exemplary behaviour”. The 30-year-old, was sentenced to 18 months in prison – nine of them suspended – last June for aggravated assault.

It was his second custodial sentence in two months after he was handed a one-year prison term for hitting his wife. That incident was caught on CCTV, with the shocking footage appalling fans.

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The domestic violence conviction saw Clermont refuse to honour the contract he signed after leaving Montpellier, his first club, and he ended up dropping down a league to play for Biarritz. Haouas, who has 16 caps, was also excluded from France’s World Cup squad.

A Montpellier statement read: “Mohamed Haouas will return to GGL Stadium on a one-season contract, conditional on exemplary behaviour."

Haouas added: “I have already taken steps, with the help of the club, with a Montpellier association which will help me to work on myself and on the actions that I may have made and that I regret,” said Haouas in the press statement.

“I am grateful for this opportunity and I will give everything, on and off the field, to prove right those who trusted me when I needed it most.”

Max Llewellyn injury update given

Gloucester director of rugby George Skivington has issued an injury update on Wales centre Max Llewellyn.

The centre limped off at Kingsholm on Friday during the win over the Ospreys and it was feared the former Cardiff player might be missing for some time. He seems certain to be called up to Wales' summer tour squad if fit after impressing this season.

And, speaking about the Welshman's state of fitness, Skivington said: “He is okay, thankfully.

“We have obviously had a different five weeks to some clubs, we had the Prem Cup final, we have had two knockout games in Europe, we have been going five or six weeks straight on the bounce so there are a few lads who need to be looked after and have put in big shifts and there are few players in the squad I would like to see in the Premiership to know what they are capable of and what they need to work on in the summer.

"There is quite a lot up in the air when it comes to selection to make sure I tick all the right boxes and achieve what we want to this season.”

All Black switches international allegiance

Fifteen-cap All Black Ngani Laumape has switched international allegiance to Tonga, it has been revealed.

The Kobelco Kobe Steelers centre earned the last of his 15 caps in November 2020, but, given the 30-year-old has Tongan parents, he has now committed his international future to his parents' country of birth.

He first declared his interest in playing for the ‘Ikale Tahi when the birthright ruling was introduced by World Rugby in 2021. He has been eligible since November last year, however it was too late for him to be involved in the World Cup. He will likely line up in the centre alongside another former All Black in Malakai Fekitoa.

“Our priority now is to qualify for the World Cup so there is still a use for those players and bringing their leadership into the group. And at the same time, we have got guys like Ngani Laumape, who has put his hand up to come in,” assistant coach Nili Latu told RugbyPass.

“Over 80% of the World Cup squad are over 30 and as we’re looking to build some of those players may give us a year or two.

“I think it is really important that we do keep some high-profile players to lead the way for the next generation. A few of the boys have already asked for time off for family reasons and, for me that gives opportunity for the next person.”

Ulster depleted for Cardiff clash

Ulster will be without four international stars for their clash with Cardiff on Friday.

The URC clash at Ravenhill will see the Northern Irish side line up without Ireland trio Iain Henderson, Rob Herring and Nick Timoney, while Springboks prop Steven Kitshoff and full-back Stewart Moore have all been ruled out.

Meanwhile Cardiff will be boosted by the return of Taulupe Faletau after a six-month lay-off, which you can read more about here.