Tonight's rugby news as Gatland's bold call questioned and star undergoes emergency surgery

Gatland's bold call has been questioned ahead of Wales' summer fixtures
-Credit: (Image: Chris Fairweather/Huw Evans Agency)

These are your evening rugby headlines on Monday, June 10.

Gatland's bold call questioned

Former Wales scrum-half Andy Moore has questioned Warren Gatland's decision to name just one specialist fly-half in his squad to face South Africa and Australia.

The Wales boss has stated that he wants more physical options at outside-half, naming Sam Costelow in the squad with Cardiff duo Ben Thomas and Jacob Beetham also included as cover for the Scarlets man.

But while Thomas has taken the 10 jersey at Arms Park on a handful of occasions, he has played most of his rugby in midfield while uncapped Beetham is mainly a full-back. Although Moore understands that Gatland is looking to try out some new faces this summer, he has questioned whether the Springboks and Wallabies are suitable teams to do that against, as he admitted it is a "tough breeding ground".

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"It feels we're trying people out at international level but it's a tough breeding ground at 10 against South Africa and even Australia," he told BBC Radio Wales. "Ben Thomas has plied all his trade in midfield and Jacob Beetham has limited experience at 15, but now we're talking about possibly covering at 10 in a Test.

"I hope these players don't fall victim to the fact that they can cover two or three positions and as a consequence, lose the opportunity to nail one down."

Springbok undergoes emergency surgery

South Africa star Kurt-Lee Arendse has undergone urgent surgery after being rushed to hospital following a game.

The back was in action for the Bulls at the weekend when he was involved in a nasty clash of heads with fomer All Black centre Malakai Fekitoa, suffering a fractured cheekbone as a result.

With the Springboks preparing for a busy summer in which they will face Wales before a two-Test series against Ireland, Arendse went under the knife immediately in order to give him the best chance of recovering in time for the fixtures against Andy Farrell's side in July. The 27-year-old has already been ruled out of the Wales clash, with the Bulls now through to the URC semi-final and the game at Twickenham being played outside of the normal Test window.

Arendse has updated fans on his condition, sharing a post-op picture to Instagram with the caption: “Operation successful. Thank you for the support.”

Explaining the situation further, Bulls coach Jake White said: “They will put a plate in and try and get him back as quickly as we can. We want him ready for the Tests. Every player wants to be in the Test squad,” White stated.

“Credit to our medical staff, who found a doctor that will do the surgery tomorrow [Sunday] morning. It is great for players to know the medical staff put their interest first. That gives him a chance to be back when the international window starts.

“It’s a little like the [Antoine] Dupont injury [at the World Cup]," he added. "Dupont got the operation the next day."

Owens lands new role

Former Wales captain Ken Owens has joined the board of netball team Cardiff Dragons as a non-executive director.

The 37-year-old retired from rugby in April, bringing the curtain down on a career which saw him play for the Scarlets for 18 years and make 91 appearances for Wales. He also toured with the Lions on two occasions while he won four Six Nations titles and played at three World Cups.

After hanging up his boots, Owens said he wanted to go down the sport governance route, rather than coaching, having played a key role during the contract uncertainty that hit Welsh rugby early last year. After his new job was confirmed, he said the opportunity was "very exciting", with the Dragons recently confirmed as one of eight new professional franchises who will compete in the revamped Netball Super League competition next season.

"I'm hugely interested in sports governance and the opportunity to go and work in a different sport, and gain new experiences and learn new things, is very exciting," said the former hooker. "Obviously, with the advent of the new era of Super League Netball, it's a great time to get involved.

"I'm newly retired now, so I'll have a lot more time on my hands to be able to contribute in whichever way I can and support their dream of becoming a fully professional outfit."

Dragons chief executive Vicki Sutton added: "Everyone in Wales knows who Ken is, so it's a good fit because we want everyone in Wales to know who the Cardiff Dragons are. Ken will bring a huge amount to the board. He loves netball, he knows professional sport because he has spent more than half his life within it.

"He will be able to advise our board and management teams what professional sport really looks like and what the players require," she added. "He will also be able to advise me on what a high-performance sport business looks like, so he has lots of attributes and lots of skills we can tap into."

England squad announced

By Duncan Bech, PA England Rugby Correspondent

Tom Curry has been included in an England squad that contains seven players from newly crowned Gallagher Premiership champions Northampton.

Curry features in the 36-man group that will depart for the summer tour to Japan and New Zealand on Wednesday despite having played just 34 minutes since the World Cup. The 25-year-old flanker recovered from a hip injury that he described as a "car crash" in time to make a cameo appearance in Sale's Premiership play-off defeat by Bath on June 1.

Sharks boss Alex Sanderson said after the match that if Curry was taken on tour, it would be "guaranteed" to shorten his career.
Northampton are rewarded for toppling Bath in Saturday's Premiership final with a strong contingent including uncapped wing Ollie Sleightholme, the league's leading try scorer this season.

Saints hooker Curtis Langdon was expected to be picked but is absent having sustained an injury at Twickenham. Sleightholme is one of six players yet to make their debut included in the squad, alongside Harlequins prop Fin Baxter, Bristol hooker Gabriel Oghre, Sale's Joe Carpenter and Tom Roebuck and Harlequins centre Luke Northmore.

England announced on Sunday that George Ford would sit out the tour following a recurrence of an Achilles injury sustained in 2022, placing Fin Smith and Marcus Smith in a straight shootout at fly-half.

Head coach Steve Borthwick has opted to take just two playmakers, leaving Charlie Atkinson at home, with George Furbank and Henry Slade providing cover for the number 10 jersey. Jack can Poortvliet has missed out on one of the three scrum-half slots after Alex Mitchell, Ben Spencer and Harry Randall were preferred for the summer Tests that begin in Tokyo on June 22. Jamie George will continue to lead England after replacing Owen Farrell as captain for the Six Nations.