Tonight's rugby news as Wales star's future uncertain and Gatland issues update on injured duo

Gatland has given an update on two Wales players yet to feature
-Credit: (Image: Chris Fairweather/Huw Evans Agency)

These are your evening rugby headlines on Thursday, July 11.

Wales star's future uncertain

Wales hooker Bradley Roberts' future remains uncertain despite returning to the Dragons for pre-season training.

The 28-year-old hooker is out of contract at the region, having missed the end of the season with a back injury. The South Wales Argus reports that he has joined up with the squad again as he is still being helped with rehabilitation by the club's medical staff, but a third season at Rodney Parade is looking unlikely.

Dai Flanagan already has a number of strong options at hooker, with Elliot Dee, James Benjamin, Brodie Coghlan and Sam Scarfe all amongst the Dragons' ranks. They have been joined by former Wales U20 star Oli Burrows, with the 6ft 2in, 17 stone front row moving to Rodney Parade from Exeter ahead of the new season.

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Roberts has had an impressive record for Flanagan's side, crossing for seven tries in 27 appearances over two seasons. Born in South Africa, he made his debut for Wales in 2021 while playing for Ulster before moving to Newport to boost his Test career.

However, he has been largely overlooked by both Wayne Pivac and Warren Gatland and has not added to his tally of five caps since last March, when he scored against France in the Six Nations.

Gatland issues update on injured duo

Warren Gatland has given another injury update ahead of his side's second clash with Australia this Saturday.

Wales have already been dealt a hammer blow by losing Aaron Wainwright for the next four months, after the talismanic No.8 tore his hamstring. Prop Dillon Lewis and second row Ben Carter are both yet to feature for Gatland's side this summer, but the coach says he is aiming to see them both involved in their remaining time Down Under.

Quizzed on the absent duo, Gatland said: "Dillon, when he came into us, he had a jab on his back. He's had some referral pain down his leg. But he's up and running now.

"We'd spoken to the players and said that the aim was we'd like everyone to have some involvement, at least in some capacity across the three games," he added. "So we'll see what happens after Saturday."

England given 'massive lift' by Euros win

By Duncan Bech, PA England Rugby Correspondent

Jamie George says England have been inspired by their footballing counterparts reaching the final of Euro 2024 as they target their own famous victory against New Zealand.

England's squad gathered in the team room of their Auckland hotel to watch Gareth Southgate's men dispatch the Netherlands 2-1 and set-up a showdown with Spain on Sunday evening. The two camps have been in regular contact through their head coaches and George admitted the result "created a huge buzz" that his tourists are aiming to harness when they face the All Blacks on Saturday.

"We're all die-hard football fans so the performance has given us a massive lift. You can see the impact it has on so many people," George said. "England are a very proud nation and we're very proud of our sports teams. We want to make sure the England rugby team is part of that conversation.

"There's so much going on with the Euros and Wimbledon. The England cricket team are looking pretty good at the moment too. We want to make sure that we throw our hands up. Getting a win at Eden Park would certainly do that."

Succeeding at Eden Park would also send shockwaves around the rugby world given it is 30 years since New Zealand lost at their Auckland fortress. England are determined to finish the season on a high, especially after conceding a winnable first Test in Dunedin 16-15 despite entering the final quarter with a five-point lead.

"Coming to New Zealand is very, very difficult. We had a taste of that last weekend," George said. "At the same time I love playing at Eden Park because it's hostile and the crowd are brilliant. We want to go out there and do something special.

"It would be one of the greatest achievements in English rugby being able to do that. I'm saying that because we've got a huge amount of respect for the All Blacks coming off the back of the weekend.

"Their record at Eden Park is amazing. We expect them to be more confrontational and more direct. We're ready for that but at the same time you can't go into Test match rugby with too much expectation because that's often when you get caught out. We'll be ready for everything."

Doris leads Ireland as Aki ruled out

By Ed Elliot, PA

Caelan Doris will captain an Ireland team missing influential centre Bundee Aki for Saturday's second Test against world champions South Africa in Durban.

Aki sustained a shoulder issue during last weekend's 27-20 loss in Pretoria but looked set to feature in the series finale after Andy Farrell's full 35-man squad trained on Wednesday. Head coach Farrell, who will provide an update on the Connacht player at a press conference on Thursday afternoon, has made four personnel changes in total, including dropping regular skipper Peter O'Mahony to the bench.

Tadhg Beirne switches from the second row to replace O'Mahony at blindside flanker, resulting in a recall for lock James Ryan, while Garry Ringrose, hooker Ronan Kelleher and scrum-half Conor Murray come in for Aki and injured pair Dan Sheehan and Craig Casey. With O'Mahony among the replacement.

Leinster number eight Doris will lead Ireland for the second time, having first done so in the 36-0 Guinness Six Nations win over Italy in February. Ulster duo Rob Herring and Stuart McCloskey and Connacht scrum-half Caolin Blade have been added to Farrell's bench.

Aki's absence is a big blow to Ireland. The New Zealand-born 34-year-old starred at last year's Rugby World Cup and had started every major game for his adopted country during the past 17 months.

Ringrose, who missed most of this year's triumphant Six Nations campaign through injury, comes in for his first Test start since Ireland's 28-24 World Cup quarter-final loss to New Zealand in October. The 29-year-old will start at outside centre, with Leinster team-mate Robbie Henshaw switching to inside centre in place of Aki.

Ireland: 15 Jamie Osborne, 14 Calvin Nash, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Robbie Henshaw, 11 James Lowe, 10 Jack Crowley, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Caelan Doris (c), 7 Josh van der Flier, 6 Tadhg Beirne, 5 James Ryan, 4 Joe McCarthy, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Rónan Kelleher, 1 Andrew Porter

Replacements: 16 Rob Herring, 17 Cian Healy, 18 Finlay Bealham, 19 Ryan Baird, 20 Peter O’Mahony, 21 Caolin Blade, 22 Ciaran Frawley, 23 Stuart McCloskey