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Rugby morning headlines as Stuart Hogg suffers ‘horrendous’ time and Louis Ress-Zammit’s new haircut explained

Here are the latest rugby headlines for Friday, July 16.

‘I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy’ – Hogg opens up on isolation

Stuart Hogg admits he is itching to get back in action for the British and Irish Lions after a “horrendous few days” in isolation.

The Scotland captain is set to lead the Lions again on Saturday against the Stormers, having previously been among those left behind in Johannesburg when Warren Gatland’s squad flew to Cape Town last Sunday.

Hogg was a close contact of a positive Covid-19 case, meaning he was forced to spend a week alone in his hotel room.

However, he has now been cleared to return to the tour bubble, and seemingly cannot wait to get going again.

Hogg said: ‘Honestly, it was an horrendous few days I’ve had to just suck it up, but it’s a long old time to be hidden away.

“I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. It was challenging, but we had a mini-isolation group who kept each other going. It became a bit easier once the touring party left.”

“Going into that tour, I felt I was playing some good rugby, so to have it taken away was disappointing. It took me a good year-and-a-half, two years to get over it, to get excited about playing rugby again. Now I am here, it’s about making the most of it.”

Read more:The private conversation between Warren Gatland and Adam Beard

Louis Rees-Zammit’s hair cut explained

Hamish Watson has revealed how Louis Rees-Zammit came to have a new lightning-themed hair cut.

Referred to as “Rees Lightning” during his rise to prominence, the Wales and Lions winger was seen sporting a new hair do during Wednesday’s fixture against South Africa ‘A’.

When asked if it had anything to do with a fine, Scotland flanker Watson said: “I’m actually not on the fines committee, I’m in the environment committee – very important stuff.

“Yeah, it was a fine to shave the side of his head with a zero grade fade, but then I think that was all Zam himself who wanted the lightning bolt on it. I think that was optional.



Louis Rees-Zammit’s new hair

“It was from Prav [Prav Mathema of medical management team]. He learned how to cut hair over lockdown, so it’s actually pretty decent.

“A few of the boys have been using him for hair cuts.”

As for his role on the environment committee, he added with a smile: “I’m the Covid police! Which obviously wasn’t too good over the last couple of weeks!

“We’ve got to help clean up the buses and stuff like that.”

Gatland seeking clarification on de Klerk tackle

British and Irish Lions head coach Warren Gatland says he’s keen to seek clarification from officials over Faf de Klerk’s dangerous tackle on Josh Navidi during the tourists’ defeat to South Africa A on Wednesday night.

De Klerk was only shown a yellow card for a reckless head-led challenge, with referee Jaco Peyper declining to opt for a tougher punishment after concluding that there had been contract with Navidi’s arm – a view Gatland seemingly disagrees with.

“I can’t understand the comments that there was no contact to the head. Someone was watching a different picture to me,” Gatland said.

“I thought it looked reckless to me. No arms and he’s hit the arm first and then the shoulder, but there’s definitely head-on-head contact.

“We’ve got a meeting with the referees tomorrow (Friday) just to get a bit of clarity on that. What we want is clarity so that we get complete consistency.

“It’ll be interesting to see what the referees come back with and what other people who have looked at it come back with in terms of the recommendations for that incident.”

Faletau in ‘pole position’ for number eight berth

Taulupe Faletau is currently the front-runner to start at number eight for the British and Irish Lions in the first Test with the Springboks.

That’s the view of 2003 World Cup winner Lawrence Dallaglio, who’s been impressed by Faletau’s showings for club and country, and feels he’s now in a good position to fend off competition from Jack Conan and Sam Simmonds.

Picking his Lions XV for Sportsbeat, Dallaglio said: “The first opportunity goes to Toby Faletau and for all his experience of playing in a Lions jersey in the Test series in New Zealand, he’s probably in pole position.

“He’s had a wonderful Six Nations – but I wouldn’t say there’s a pecking order.

“I think there’s a balance to be struck between experienced player who have been on Tours and won Test matches for the lions, and a lot of debutants.

“A lot of the squad are first time Lions – there’s a nice healthy balance of players and I think Warren Gatland is trying to do everything he can to give everyone an opportunity to at least have one start in the first three matches.

“Obviously Toby’s opportunity came in that game having played a little bit previously as well. He’s a terrific player and he’s going to be quite key to the Lions whatever position he plays.

“We just need to keep him fit – when I watched him this season for Bath and Wales, he’s been absolutely outstanding.”

Join Land Rover on its Lions Adventure and be in with a chance to win exclusive prizes. Visit https://lionsadventure.com/ and follow @LandRoverRugby on Twitter

Pivac’s summer of learning

Wales coach Wayne Pivac believes he has already learned much about his side’s strength in depth this summer.

The Kiwi coach has been without a number of players due to British and Irish Lions call-ups and injuries, but claims he has nevertheless gained great knowledge about his possible options heading into the autumn

Wales take on Argentina for the second time this weekend, and Pivac has decided to further freshen up his squad by making seven changes, witt Cardiff half-backs Tomos Williams and Jarrod Evans among those set to start.

“We always planned to get as many of them out there as we could,” said Pivac. “It’s the last opportunity for us to have a look at them against quality opposition.

“We have learnt a lot in these last four weeks and with some of them it’s now putting that into the acid test against a tier-one nation.

“On reflection, I think it has been a season where we are very happy we have been able to win the Six Nations and do a lot of development work throughout the autumn and summer series, which bodes well for the future.

“We saw at the last World Cup, you are going to get injuries and you have to have players with experience coming in. If we can get players with 10-15 Tests under their belt from the last World Cup to this one coming, then it’ll have served its purpose.”

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