Today's rugby news as new Welsh signing gets 'superb' references and Wales dressing room bond changes

Tommy Reffell, Josh Hathaway, Dewi Lake, Kemsley Mathias and Archie Griffin during training
-Credit: (Image: Huw Evans Picture Agency Ltd)


Here are the latest rugby headlines on Saturday, July 6.

Dragons sign Evans after 'superb' references

Dragons RFC have confirmed the signing of Welsh-qualified fly half Lloyd Evans from Gloucester. The number 10 or full-back joins region after over a decade with English Premiership giants Gloucester Rugby.

The 28-year-old, who has made 85 senior appearances for the Cherry and Whites since making his senior debut in 2013, comes highly recommended, according to head coach Dai Flanagan. Flanagan revealed Evans will link up with his new team-mates from Monday as the senior squad return for pre-season.

Flanagan said: “We’re excited that Lloyd is linking up with us. He’s a talented player who arrives with a wealth of experience in the English Premiership and top tier of European competition.

“I’ve watched Lloyd closely for several years and, as a Welsh qualified player, he joins us ready make an immediate impression in a new competition.

“Lloyd comes with superb references from those who have worked with him; he’s a good professional who demands the highest of standards and is highly motivated to push himself and secure a starting place.”

Born in Gloucester and educated in Cheltenham, Evans has represented England at U18s and U20s. However, he is Welsh-qualified through his father Huw Evans, the former Scarlets chairman.

Evans said: “I’m really excited about this opportunity. After speaking to Dai Flanagan and Dai Wright, it’s clear the club is building impressively on and off the pitch, and I can’t wait to get into pre-season and meet my new team-mates.

“The fans are renowned for their passion and I’m looking forward to playing in front of them at Rodney Parade as a Dragon.”

Tshiunza reveals squad bond

Wales lock Christ Tshiunza has praised the tight bond within Warren Gatland's young Welsh squad as he prepares to make his Test return today.

The Exeter Chiefs forward missed the Six Nations through injury, but will partner club team-mate Dafydd Jenkins in the second-row against the Wallabies in Sydney.

Much has changed since the last time Wales and Australia met, with just six of the starters on either team from that 40-6 win in Lyon last September also starting today.

With both nations needing to bring through a new generation, it's hard to know what to expect from either side at the Allianz Stadium. But Tshiunza believes that the youthful nature of the touring Wales squad has helped forge a tighter bond as they look to end a seven-game losing streak.

"This week I've really enjoyed myself," said Tshiunza. "A lot of these boys I played 20s with and I played 18s with as well. I'm having a really good time.

"We're actually building a good chemistry. Whereas before in previous camps, I'd come in and there were a lot of older boys, people would already be in their groups.

"But here, we're one massive circle. I think, looking out to in, you can see that and feel that.

"We're a really tight bubble. We win together and we lose together. That's where we are at the moment.

"I think from the last week of training after the Boks game, there's been a really positive response from the group. There's a good vibe and buzz in the group.

"We've been training well. I've enjoyed being part of this young team. What people can expect is we'll lay everything on the pitch come Saturday and hopefully the result falls in our favour. But I can guarantee we'll give our all."

Smith to showcase England's new-found confidence

By PA Sport Staff

Marcus Smith is ready for England's growing confidence in attack to meet its toughest examination yet when they face New Zealand in Dunedin on Saturday.

Steve Borthwick's side opened the tour by running in eight tries against Japan a fortnight ago, with the 52-17 victory continuing the theme born in the Guinness Six Nations of greater intent being shown with the ball in hand.

Even though World Cup finalists New Zealand are being remodelled by new head coach Scott Robertson, they will still provide a gauge of just how far England's attack has come.

Harlequins fly-half Smith will pull the strings at Forsyth Barr Stadium believing he will be directing a team that is improving in multiple areas.

"We're developing a super strong set-piece, our defence has really improved in the last year and a half and I feel our mindset from an attacking point of view has improved as well," Smith told Sky Sports.

"We showed glimpses of that last time out and in the games against Ireland, France and Wales.

"In the last three games of the Six Nations we made a conscious effort to be aggressive on both sides of the ball and ever since I came back into camp for this summer tour, that was the mindset - around building excitement.

"That's really resonated with this group. We had a really good game against a very good Japanese team last week and I think we implemented some of those things.

"Obviously we know that playing the All Blacks in their home nation is going to be a tough test, but it's one that we're really excited for. Hopefully we can show the best of ourselves against the best of them as well."

Irish debutant ready

By PA Sport Staff

Ireland captain Peter O'Mahony feels it was only a matter of time before Jamie Osborne was handed his senior debut, which will come in the first Test against South Africa in Pretoria on Saturday.

With Hugo Keenan preparing for the Olympic Sevens in Paris later this month, there had been an an expectation Jimmy O'Brien would be slotted into the side at full-back.

Head coach Andy Farrell, though, instead made something of a surprise selection with Osborne, who primarily plays at centre, drafted in.

The Leinster 22-year-old may have started at full-back only twice for his province, but O'Mahony has every confidence Osborne can rise to the challenge against the world champions at Loftus Versfeld.

"He has been very patient. The kid is pretty understanding and obviously has delivered incredibly well for Leinster over the last however many seasons," O'Mahony said at a press conference.

"One of the lads presented him with his (Ireland) jersey last night and he said it was not as if it was when the cap was going to come for him.

"He is one of these guys who is just really cool, calm, who wants to learn.

"He is a top-class professional at an early age, so you (media) said people were shocked, but I don't think anyone in our squad was shocked about it."