These are the rugby headlines for Thursday night, January 4th.

The Scarlets could lose Luzi

The Scarlets are unlikely to keep Sam Luzi in the second row this season, with the Tongan international set to leave the struggling region in the coming months.

New Zealand-born Lusi joined the Scarlets in 2019 and returned to action in the Boxing Day derby against the Ospreys after missing the start of the season due to injury.

However, his contract expires at the end of the current campaign and with Dwayne Peele’s side struggling for form and Wales’ regional budgets set to be further cut, it looks increasingly likely that the 6’5 star will ″ has left Parc and Scarlets. . Get the latest rugby news straight to your inbox for free with our daily newsletter.

The Llanelli team have already been forced to cut their budget significantly and will now have to do so again in time for next season when each region’s budget will be reduced from £5.2 million to £4.5 million, although they will allow them two exceptional players above. cap . Of course, an injection of funds into Welsh regional rugby would probably change things completely, but at the moment he is finding it increasingly difficult to stay on the Scarlets’ payroll.

Luzi played 66 games for the Scarlets and was voted best player of the season by fans and players after an excellent campaign in 2021/22. He represented Tonga at last year’s World Cup, playing three times.

The 32-year-old’s departure will be a further blow to Peel, who have had to deal with a series of injuries to key players this season. His team is currently 13th in the URC, with two wins in nine matches, and recently suffered a humiliating defeat to Georgian team Black Lion in the European Challenge Cup.

Hogg takes drastic measures

Stuart Hogg deleted his Instagram account just days after criticizing the online abuse he suffered in his new relationship.

Scotland’s former rugby union captain announced his new girlfriend, jockey and TV presenter Leonna Mayor, in November, just days after his “heartbroken” wife of seven years gave birth to their fourth child. Since then, the couple took a trip to Dubai and celebrated New Year together, with the former full-back saying he will “start the New Year on the right foot”.

However, Hogg’s new relationship has not been well received by everyone and has received a lot of criticism in recent weeks. He addressed the controversy in an Instagram post just before Christmas, but now it appears his profile has been removed entirely.

In a statement published on his page on December 22, he said: “I did not want to comment on any personal matters, but the constant speculation in the press and abuse on the internet has crossed a line that is affecting my family, my relationships and well-being. It bothers me that people think I wasn’t close to my children; it’s not like this.

“I see them often. My marriage ended shortly before the baby was born; It was the best decision for all of us. “I will not comment further as it is a private matter.”

Superstar returns after heart scare

South African star Loud de Jager is set to return to rugby almost six months after being diagnosed with a heart problem.

Lock, who plays for the Saitama Wild Knights in Japan, saw his World Cup hopes end the day before the Springbok selection was announced last summer when he was diagnosed with pericarditis, or inflammation of the inner lining of the heart. The illness can develop during exercise during a cold or flu.

De Jager last played for South Africa in the 35-20 defeat to New Zealand in July, but will return to rugby this weekend after being named in the Wild Knights’ reserve squad for a practice match against Toyota Verblitz. In December, he said he returned to training and was poised to return after being cleared to play by a cardiologist.

“I can play again,” he said. Report. “I will have to get back into shape after not being able to do anything for more than three months. I’m pretty useless.

Despite a shoulder injury that left him playing just 21 minutes in the final, Jaeger was part of the 2019 World Cup-winning squad and was due to play again in France last year. However, he had to watch from home as his team successfully defended their title and won the Webb Ellis Cup for the fourth time.

Sinfield will leave England

Duncan Bech, Pennsylvania rugby correspondent in England

Kevin Sinfield will leave Steve Borthwick’s England number two after the summer tour of Japan and New Zealand.

Sinfield has been in charge of the defense since being appointed by Borthwick in December 2022, but following the recent World Cup in France, the former Leeds rugby league great decided to move on. The 43-year-old will remain in the role for the Six Nations and the three Tests scheduled for June and July, but in a new role overseeing skills and kicking, with Felix Jones next in line to take over at defence.

Borthwick declined to divulge any details about Seinfeld’s future plans in the first behind-the-scenes shake-up of his year-long reign.

“Kev made a decision based on what he wanted to do,” Borthwick said. “At the end of the World Cup, each member of management had a place to reflect on how we expect the next World Cup cycle. After a major tournament like the World Cup, each member of the management team needed an opportunity to relax, unwind, reflect and spend time with friends and family.

“A few weeks later, Kev and I met and he told me his decision. Kev has decided that in the long term he will go in a different direction, away from English rugby. Before the autumn series, Kev will be out of work, so the team will move in another direction.”

England faced a tough Six Nations, the lowest score of which was a record defeat at Twickenham in March, when France broke the Sinfield defense seven times in a 53-10 rout. There were ups and downs in the warm-up to the World Cup and in the tournament itself, with England’s defense at its best in a painful 16-15 World Cup semi-final defeat to South Africa, conceding just one try to the eventual champions.

“I’m really grateful that he’s added so much value over the last 12 months and that he’s stayed in the Six Nations squad and on the summer tour,” said Borthwick, who also named Sinfield in his Leicester-managed squad. . “Kev’s role and what he added as we restarted the team, the value he brought, what he did and the relationships he built cannot be overstated. I changed his role to skill and he will work specifically on receiving, passing to kickers and goalkeepers, which he does very well.”

Former Irish international Jones takes charge of the defense after being recruited from South Africa, contributing to their triumphant World Cup campaigns. France 2023 New Zealand skills coach Andrew Strawbridge has been appointed as a consultant for the first four weeks of the Six Nations.