Tonight's rugby news as Wales star bullish ahead of 'final audition' and 'phenomenal' player leaves Warburton stunned

-Credit: (Image: Chris Fairweather/Huw Evans Agency)
-Credit: (Image: Chris Fairweather/Huw Evans Agency)


Here are your rugby evening headlines for Sunday, 26 May.

Wales hopefuls won't 'pull any punches' ahead of final audition

Scarlets hooker Ryan Elias says that Wales hopefuls won't 'pull any punches' at Judgement Day ahead of the summer tour of Australia.

Warren Gatland names his summer squad two days after the double-header at the Cardiff City Stadium next Saturday, with a number of Wales stars going head-to-head to nail down a place on the plane down under.

For Elias, he'll be going up directly against Wales hooker Elliot Dee in the clash against the Dragons - with Dee having wrestled hold of the Welsh jersey in the Six Nations this year.

“Most players would say they feel that pressure because you know the squad is going to be announced a couple of days later,” said Elias.

“You know it’s your last audition to put your best foot forward to be named in the squad."

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He added: “Elliot is a very good friend of mine. In camps together, we are kind of drawn to each other. We go through the same things, feel the same sort of pressures and confide in each other. He’s a good mate.

“But we won’t hold any punches when it comes to game time. We enjoy getting stuck into each other. It’s that personal sort of battle at scrum time or around the park if we can get a shot at each other.”

Warburton full of praise for exiled Englishman

Former Wales captain Sam Warburton has heaped praise on Toulouse's English openside Jack Willis after his starring role in their Champions Cup triumph on Saturday.

The former Wasps back-row has been enjoying life at the French club since joining in 2022, after his former club went into administration.

Willis is unavailable for selection by England, being based in France. Many would agree his performances, particularly his latest one in the win over Leinster in the final, are worthy of Test rugby - with Warburton his latest admirer.

“I don’t know Jack, but I feel like I want to find him just to tell him how much I think of him as a player,” said Warburton on TNT Sport.

“I think he’s phenomenal. He’s fitted in so well to Toulouse. Brilliant ball in hand, exceptional at the breakdown which is where he made his name defensively in England.

“Any other day, without Antoine Dupont, he would have been my Man of the Match.”

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Sharks claim Europe isn't level-playing field despite win

Sharks head coach John Plumtree says that European tournaments aren't a level playing field after the Durban side won the Challenge Cup.

Plumtree’s side stormed to a 36-22 victory over Gloucester in Friday’s Challenge Cup Final at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London.

Afterwards though, Plumtree sent a reminder to the organisers of the European competitions about the logistical problems facing South African sides.

“This is not an easy competition for the South African teams,” said Plumtree. “There is a lot of travelling.

“We are in it, and we are competing well, but a few things need to be ironed out in terms of levelling it up a little bit. This is our fourth trip up here [to the Northern Hemisphere] this year and I think we have been away from home for about three months, so that is not a level playing field.

“They need to look at how they can make this competition better. For me, it’s better than Super Rugby and I’ve been involved in that for a long time.

“However, there is a lot of logistical stuff that needs to be sorted out. Hopefully, it will be done in the next year or two.”