No retirement u-turn for CJ Stander following approach from the Bulls

CJ STANDER WILL definitively retire from professional rugby at the end of the season despite an overture from South African Super Rugby franchise the Bulls.

Bulls coach Jake White revealed that he spoke to Stander in a bid to convince him to return to the Bulls and lace up his boots for another season.

But the Ireland international told White that there will be no retirement u-turn. 

Stander, who started his pro career at the Bulls before leaving to join Munster in 2012, announced his shock retirement in March so that he and his family could spend more time in South Africa.

The 31-year-old said this week that he could carry on playing for seven or eight more years, sparking speculation about a return, but Stander told White that those comments were simply to reiterate that his retirement was for family rather that physical reasons.

“I made contact with CJ and let him know that I wanted him to be part of the Bulls,” White told South African news outlet Keo.

“He said he was flattered and humbled and appreciative that there was such an interest in him, but he confirmed that the Irish Rugby Union retirement policies didn’t allow for a return to professional rugby as it would compromise and prejudice any retirement fund payouts.

“He reiterated his love for rugby and that his decision was based on wanting his children to be near their family in South Africa and to experience their cousins, uncles, aunts and grand parents.”

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Two big tag team matches set for Raw

This Monday’s Raw already has two tag team matches announced, one of which is a mixed tag team match.
The Universal and Raw Women’s champions, Seth Rollins and his real-life girlfriend Becky Lynch, will be teaming up to take on Andrade and Zelina Vega. This will be Rollins’ and Lynch’s second mixed tag team match in a row after last week they took on Mike and Maria Kanellis. The Wildcard rule will bring Andrade and Vega this week after the duo challenged the champs earlier this week.
Meanwhile, the feud between Roman Reigns, Drew McIntyre, and Shane McMahon continues on Raw even though they are all Smackdown Superstars. McIntyre and Shane will be teaming up to take on Reigns and a partner of Shane’s choosing. The Undertaker will be tagging with Reigns at the upcoming Extreme Rules pay-per-view against Drew and Shane.

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Sasha Banks Says there is More to be Done with Bayley

Sasha Banks hinted at the possibility of more work with Bayley in WWE in a series of interactions with the Smackdown Women’s Champion. Banks, who has of course been on hiatus since WrestleMania, posted to Twitter in response to GIFs by Bayley featuring the two of them together noting that there’s “still so much to do.”
Not much new is known about Banks’ status as of late, with the most recent news being her filming WWE 2K20 content in June.
@SashaBanksWWE
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Jericho Announces First 3 AEW Guests for the Second Rock and Rager Cruise

Chris Jericho has revealed the first guests from AEW for his upcoming Rock N’ Rager Part Deux cruise. As you can see below, Jericho announced on Friday that he will have Brandi Rhodes, Cody and MFJ as guests on the cruise.
The three join the previously announced guest of honor in Ric Flair, guest cruise director Vickie Guerrero, and host Brad Williams. The cruise takes place from January 20-24, 2020.

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Will Ospreay Says He Can’t Use His Entrance Theme Anymore

Will Ospreay’s entrance theme is done with, as the NJPW star said he can no longer use it. Ospreay noted that on Twitter that the song “Elevated,” which he’s used for years, is not something he can use anymore due to a dispute with the record label that owns the song.
Ospreay, who has not used the song throughout the G1 Climax 29 so far, thanked songwriter Kevin Lacerda for his cooperation in allowing him to use the song for the past several years. You can see Ospreay’s message and listen to the song below:

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‘That stand-by list is going to play a vital role’ – McBryde’s Lions message to Leinster players

ROBIN McBRYDE HAS told Johnny Sexton and James Ryan not to lose hope of playing for the British and Irish Lions this summer, despite their omission from Warren Gatland’s 37-man squad to tour South Africa.

The Ireland duo were two of the more notable exclusions in a squad full of surprises, capping a disappointing couple of months for both players.

Ryan missed Ireland’s Six Nations games against France and England due to head injuries, and then appeared to fall out of Gatland’s thinking following Leinster’s Champions Cup semi-final loss to La Rochelle. Sexton hasn’t featured since being removed during the Champions Cup win over Exeter on 10 April – although the out-half could make his return against Glasgow this weekend having resumed contact training.

McBryde, who is part of Gatland’s Lions coaching team, accepts it’s been a difficult period for both players, and that he’s made himself available for a conversation with any member of the Leinster squad who were left disappointed. 

“I’m definitely in the blue (Leinster mode), but you can’t ignore what happened with regards to what happened with the selection for the Lions,” McBryde said.

“I gave them all an opportunity to have a chat if they wanted one. It is what it is. Warren Gatland would tell you himself, sometimes it’s down to one man’s opinion, so don’t get hung up on it.

“It’s important that they stay motivated, anybody who is on that standby list has got to be motivated and keep going because anything can happen. As far as I’m concerned, I’ve just had to put things in boxes in my head and park a few to the back. I’m fully in the blue (Leinster), no doubt about that.”

McBryde was asked how Ryan has dealt with the setback, given he was previously viewed as a shoo-in for the tour.

James Ryan didn’t make the cut in Warren Gatland’s Lions squad. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

“He’s been good, it’s obviously tough but he’s responded well,” McBryde said.

“We’ve had a two-week break where there were certain things we want to try and look at ahead of next season, and we’re using these games to try and do that and it’s important that the players are stimulated.

“James has been one of them. If somebody has suffered a disappointment, that they’ve got a goal to aspire to and be able to see they are working towards something.

“From a personal point of view, there are certain goals you put into place for himself and the team as well. There’s enough to keep the boys engaged in the process, in the here and now, and then whatever happens in the future happens in the future. Their attitude across the board has been excellent.” 

The former Wales coach also highlighted the need for both players to stay motivated in case Gatland finds himself needing to pick up the phone. 

“You look at the history of the successful teams in both of those competitions – Six Nations internationally and then domestically in Europe – and both of those players (Ryan and and Sexton) are involved with one of the best teams in Europe. 

“So it’s going to put them in a good place. So definitely, they’ve got to keep the bit between their teeth and keep going, striving to improve, and making sure that when that opportunity comes, that they are ready for it.”

The decision to leave Sexton out proved one of Gatland’s more controversial calls. The Ireland captain was in superb form during the Six Nations but Gatland made clear his concerns regarding the player’s durability ahead of what is expected to be an attritional, physically demanding tour.

Sexton, one of the most experienced players in the Leinster squad, didn’t feel to need to vent any frustrations with McBryde.

“It wasn’t so much of a chat with Johnny really. I’m sure he respects that it wasn’t down to my selection views. 

“Listen, he’s more experienced than anybody. I’m not sure if it was quite a wink and a smile, it was just acknowledgement more than anything. He’s got plenty about himself, Johnny, with regards being able to deal with that and shake it off, and he’s been able to channel all that.” 

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Shawn Michaels to provide commentary on Smackdown next week

WWE fans will get a double dose of Shawn Michaels next week on television as not only the two-time WWE Hall of Famer will be part of the Raw Reunion show, he will also do commentary for Smackdown Live the next day.
Michaels announced the news himself in a post on Twitter writing, “I’ve had a lot of …ahem.. fun times on Monday Night #Raw, but I’m not just coming to #RawReunion to see some friends, ol’ HBK is going to be joining commentary THIS Tuesday on #SDLive! #IveBeenPracticing”
Commentary is nothing new to Shawn Michaels as he already has a couple of matches behind the mic under his belt. Most recently, HBK did the commentary for the Triple H vs Batista match at WrestleMania 35 and he also voiced NXT’s Halftime Heat back in February.
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WWE MSG Ticket Sales Are Rumored to be “Exceedingly Disappointing”

On the latest Wrestling Observer Radio it was said ticket sales have been “not good,” although specific ticket sale numbers weren’t given, neither show has sold-out yet. Dave Meltzer reported that RAW was expected to be an instant sell-out, and it’s been viewed as “exceeding disappointing” that didn’t take place.
Meltzer also noted WWE’s goal for these shows was to have fast sell-outs like NJPW / ROH did with their G1 Supercard this past April. WWE was hoping to have the 15 minute instant sell-out to show big demand for the product, but that doesn’t look to be the case.Click Here: lions rugby jersey

Leinster in last chance saloon needing a win to keep Rainbow hopes alive

THE LAST RITES for the Pro14 were pronounced on 27 March this year. Experts said there was nothing that could save it, that Leinster were killing off the competition from within.

Champions for a fourth straight year, they recorded a 16-6 victory over Munster in the final, a victory that was way more comprehensive than the scoreline would let you believe. Sixteen games across the regular season had also yielded 14 wins, their two losses excused by the fact their stars were rested those nights.

To put it another way, whenever Leinster needed a win, whenever they wanted one, they got it.

Who’d have believed then that just two months later, they wouldn’t just be drinking in the Rainbow Cup’s last chance saloon, they’d have opened a tab there? Losers on the opening night against Munster – again when their first-teamers were, by and large, sidelined – every match since has been a must-win.

Tonight (v Glasgow, 8.15 kick-off, eir Sport) is no different, except it is not just a must-win; a bonus-point victory is an added necessity – with a couple of footnotes thrown in for good measure.

To reach the Rainbow Cup final, Leinster (nine points from three games) need the following favours: firstly for Ospreys (10 points) to beat Benetton (18 points) next week; secondly for Ospreys to lose to Connacht tonight; thirdly for Zebre to either beat Munster (15 points) next week or alternatively to lose without the concession of a try bonus point.

If all that happens – and it’s a mighty big if – Leinster then need one further miracle, namely to ensure their points differential improves significantly from its current status of plus nine to a position where it is superior to Munster’s and Benetton’s. For the record, Munster have a points differential of plus 52, Benetton’s is plus 47.

In this context, it isn’t a win Leinster need to deliver in Scotstoun but a massacre – which won’t be straightforward, not just because the Warriors have their Scottish internationals available again but also because they too have their own aspirations of reaching the final.

The truth is they’re unlikely to fulfill those. The other truth is that failing to make a Rainbow Cup final will cause a similar degree of hurt to Leo Cullen and Stuart Lancaster as the kind Pep Guardiola endured when Manchester City didn’t reach this year’s FA Cup final. They’ve all bigger fish to fry.

Still, for a few of the Leinster contingent, these nights count. Take the O’Brien pair. Jimmy, the older of the two, is 24 now, enjoying the best of his three seasons with Leinster, graduating from the bench in year one to the starting team for eight of their games in year two.

Jimmy O’Brien has a chance to impress. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

This time around he has featured in 14 matches, two of those being Champions Cup games, another five being interpro derbies. He was also there on the night they lost to Connacht so he knows what a silent dressing room is like to sit in.

And he also knows something else, that if you are to convince Cullen you deserve another bite at the biggest games, you have to deliver in these ones. Jordan Larmour did, making his debut in September 2017, coming off the bench that December in the back-to-back Champions Cup games against Exeter. Look where he is now.

Caelan Doris is another who worked his way up. He got 19 minutes action in the 2017/18 season, 913 in 2018/19, two of those minutes coming against Toulouse in a Champions Cup semi. A year later he was starting those European knock-out games.

Tommy O’Brien has a way to go before he reaches that level. But matches like this – his 10th for the club – are gateways to bigger days.

Tommy O’Brien makes his 10th appearance. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Ask Luke McGrath. The Leinster captain wins his 150th cap for the province tonight, nine years after his debut, another game in May, long forgotten at this stage by everyone bar the McGrath family.

He’d have to wait a year for his first start, another 17 months after that for his second. Now he’s indispensable to them, lasting the full 80 minutes in six of their games this season, going beyond the 75-minute mark in another four, clocking up 1353 minutes in a Leinster shirt in 2020/21. Fellow scrum-halves, Jamison Gibson Park and Rowan Osborne, have managed just 376 between them.

That’s why tonight’s game isn’t just a date in the diary, something to do before the weekend starts. For sure a win will neither define nor save Leinster’s season – it doesn’t mean they shouldn’t strive for it, though.

Glasgow Warriors: Adam Hastings, Kyle Steyn, Nick Grigg, Sam Johnson, Cole Forbes, Ross Thompson, George Horne; Aki Seiuli, Fraser Brown, Enrique Pieretto, Rob Harley, Scott Cummings, Ryan Wilson, Rory Darge, Matt Fagerson.

Replacements: George Turner, Tom Lambert, D’arcy Rae, Kiran McDonald, Thomas Gordon, Sean Kennedy, Stafford McDowall, Niko Matawalu.

Leinster: Hugo Keenan, Tommy O’Brien, Garry Ringrose, Rory O’Loughlin, Jimmy O’Brien, Ross Byrne, Luke McGrath (CAPT); Ed Byrne, Rónan Kelleher, Michael Bent, Ross Molony, James Ryan, Josh Murphy Josh van der Flier, Caelan Doris.

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Replacements: Dan Sheehan, Peter Dooley, Andrew Porter, Ryan Baird, Scott Penny, Rowan Osborne, Jordan Larmour, Cian Kelleher.

Referee: Frank Murphy (IRFU)

Kongo Kong on Impact: “They had a different vision and I moved on”

Filed to GERWECK.NET:
Kongo Kong was recently on Cut The Promo Wrestling Podcast with Host Jordan Garber. The show can be listened to on blogtalkradio.com/cutthepromo at 10 PM CT on Sunday here are some of the highlights
On getting signed by Impact
“I had done a couple shows with Abyss where we tagged and we worked against each other and eventually he told me that I’m going to get you a tryout in Orlando. Eventually he called me and gave me the dates he needed me to come there and tryout. I tried out the first day and they said they didn’t need me to tryout anymore and I was signed “up
On Matt Sydal
“He was a hard read at first he’s one of those guys where you had to get in the ring with and prove to him that you were safe and you cared for somebody other than yourself. Once that happened, and after awhile he opened up and we actually became very good friends”
On John Morrison
“Johnny always seemed like a really cool guy. He plays the character on television and that’s not him where he’s that cocky guy. He’s totally not that guy outside of the ring. He’s one of the better guys at most things and he’s one of coolest guys I know “
On getting released from Impact Wrestling
“On the very last set of tapings I did for Impact, they told me if I would be okay with doing a segment with Johnny IMPACT and something where I ran and jumped into Lake Ontario. I kind of called them and asked is this something I’m gonna come back from and they were like “oh yeah you’ll be back on TV and you’ll be wrestling Brian Cage and I was like okay as long as this isn’t a way to say goodbye it just so happened that we did it and I ran and jumped into the pool and I wrestled Brian Cage and on the following week of television i never got invited back. Why or what transpired after that I have no clue but I don’t think it’s anything I’ve done. I’ve stepped up and done whatever they wanted me to do. They had a different vision and I moved on”
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