Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Gloucester to sign an Argentine Fly half?

Sánchez kicks for Bordeaux v Grenoble

The departure of Freddie Burns from Gloucester to the Leicester Tigers has left the Aviva Premiership club in need of replacing him with a player of note. The club has options on the current roster but none of which can be said to offer the same direction as Burns. In an effort to see who could replace Burns the Gloucester Citizen posted an article looking at nine possible players, two of which are Pumas.

Aside from Burns Gloucester does have other fly halves at present with the most notable being Billy Twelvetrees who is deemed to be a play-making inside centre rather than a fly half. The nine players mentioned by the Gloucester Citizen are a mixture of young and old, English and foreign, international and uncapped. The most familiar to many from the region is arguably Olly Barkley who was a former Gloucester and Bath player before moving to France to join Racing Métro and subsequently Grenoble. He has been unable to establish himself as a regular starter in either club and now aged 32 it is not likely that he is the ideal candidate for Gloucester. Danny Cirpirani has also been suggested but the 26 year old has a season left at Sale Sharks.

Current Bath player, Tom Heathcote has also been suggested by the Gloucester Citizen. The Scottish international is just 21 but has been unable to establish himself at fly half for Scotland or Bath. Welsh international Rhys Priestland who will start in the position against Italy this weekend is another option but the source believes he will play for a rival, such as London Wasps or remain in Wales. Current IRB Junior Player of the Year, Sam Davies is another Welshman in consideration. He is just twenty and would be a long term investment but possibly not ready to start at Aviva Premiership level. Matthew Morgan of the Ospreys was also suggested. 

The remaining players are based outside of the U.K. South Africa´s Johan Goosen had previously been suggested but appears unlikely to play in England. Another player with Super Rugby experience, Stephen Brett has been linked to the club. Brett has been unable to establish himself at fly half for Bayonne with the club instead opting for Argentine centre Santiago Fernández. 

Fernández arrived in Bayonne as a medical joker and was quickly used as a mid-fielder in both centre positions. With Brett failing to fire Fernández was moved to the pivotal position and has remained there. He is off conract at the end of this season as is Nicolás Sánchez of Bordeaux-Begles who has been used rarely this season. Both players are in search of a club for the 2014-2015 season before thek ,in theory, joining the Argentine squad of forty players for the 2016 Super Rugby season. 

Fernández is 28 and has played at both fly half and inside centre for Argentina. He started at fly half in the Rugby World Cup victories over Romania, Georgia and Scotland in 2011 and also in the Quarter Final loss against champions New Zealand. Sánchez became the first choice Pumas fly half in 2012 as he impressed against Wales in the away victory. He held down the position in 2013 and with his reliable goalkicking he is expected to be Argentina´s World Cup 2015 number 10. 

Santiago Fernández Tribute

Nicolás Sánchez Tribute

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