Five rugby rumours and transfers: Anthony Watson, Santiago Cordero, Vern Cotter and more

Jared Wright
rugby rumours and transfers anthony watson santiago cordero vern cotter alex waller aaron hinkley vincent koch eben etzebeth

Ahead of the return of club rugby in Europe, the biggest transfer news, rumours and movements have ramped up, and Planet Rugby highlights some of the biggest stories from the last few days.

Anthony Watson to leave Leicester Tigers?

England outside back Anthony Watson is considering a departure from Leicester Tigers after joining the Premiership club at the start of the season.

A move abroad is being touted, with reports suggesting that he is hearing offers from Japan, but according to L’Equipe, Castres have opened talks with the British and Irish Lion.

The Top 14 outfit is renowned for signing promising talents from the PROD2 and developing stars of their own – Anthony Jelonch and Antoine Dupont coming through their pathways – but are making an exception for Watson.

Watson would add to an ever-growing list of Premiership and England stars who are set to join Top 14 clubs next season. David Ribbans has signed for Toulon, Jack Willis for Toulouse, Joe Marchant is off to Stade Francais, while Luke Cowan-Dickie, Sam Simmonds and Harry Williams are off to Montpellier.

L’Equipe also reports that Cowan-Dickie’s move to Montpellier is under threat due to a medical issue. 

Meanwhile, Rory Kockett has confirmed that he will leave Castres at the end of the season. A former Les Bleus scrum-half and a two-time Top 14 champion with the club, Kockett announced his retirement at the end of last season to take up a coaching role at the club.

However, his retirement did not last long after injuries to Santiago Arata and other scrum-halves prompted his return. However, he has now confirmed that he will leave the club entirely at the end of the season.

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Santiago Cordero

What a signing! Connacht sprung a surprise on Thursday, announcing that Los Pumas speedster Santiago Cordero would join the Irish province after the Rugby World Cup.

Known for his sheer pace and extraordinary footwork, Cordero has played 45 times for Argentina. He has also enjoyed successful stints at Exeter Chiefs and Bordeaux Begles since leaving the Jaguares in 2017.

“Santiago’s arrival is a real statement of intent by the club, and I’m absolutely thrilled he has chosen to progress his career with us. He is a genuine world-class talent with a wealth of experience at the highest level, and being in the prime of his career, he will no doubt make an immediate impact,” Connacht head of rugby Pete Wilkins said of his new signing.

Cordero leaves Bordeaux after four seasons and has currently scored 29 times in 67 matches. His signing comes after Paul Boyle re-signed with the province.

Where to next for Vern Cotter?

Following his resignation as Fiji’s head coach just nine months out from the Rugby World Cup, Vern Cotter could land his next role soon.

According to Midi Olympique, Cotter is in advanced negotiations with Perpignan ahead of next season. The club are without a head coach for next season, and the former Scotland boss is their top candidate. Pierre-Henry Broncan and Julien Laïrle are also in the running for the role.

Broncan has also been linked as a possible addition to the Wallabies coaching staff under Eddie Jones.

Eben Etzebeth convinces Vincent Koch to join Sharks

On Wednesday, the Durban-based Sharks confirmed the signing of Springbok tighthead prop Vincent Koch.

The Rugby World Cup winner joins the side from Stade Francais to replace fellow Springbok Thomas du Toit, who has confirmed his move to Bath.

Koch has since revealed the role Eben Etzebeth played in his more.

“Eben got lured by Siya Kolisi, and I got lured by Eben,” Koch told AFP.

“Mates from the Springboks made my decision much easier.”

Alex Waller re-signs while Aaron Hinkley departs

Northampton Saints have announced that loosehead prop Alex Waller has extended his contract with the club. 

The experienced front-rower has made 349 appearances in Black, Green and Gold and scored 25 tries to date. 

 At the same time, the club announced the immediate departure of standout flanker Aaron Hinkley.

“Northampton Saints can confirm that Aaron Hinkley has left the club by mutual consent. The back row forward arrived at cinch stadium at Franklin’s Gardens at the end of the 21/22 season, making 19 appearances in Black, Green and Gold.” the statement read.

The news on Hinkley comes as a shock to Saints fans after his impressive start to his career at the club. He started 12 of his 15 appearances this season.