Jack Willis: Toulouse snap up England flanker while London Irish sign Argentina hooker and George Merrick leaves Newcastle Falcons

Jack Willis Wasps v Northampton Premiership 2022 - PA.jpg Credit: Alamy
Jack Willis Wasps v Northampton Premiership 2022 - PA.jpg Credit: Alamy

England back-row Jack Willis has signed a contract with Top 14 giants Toulouse until the end of the season, the club has announced.

Willis, 25, has been without a club since Wasps were suspended and relegated from the Premiership after being forced into administration last month.

Since then there were rumours of Toulouse being interested in the impressive flank and they have now confirmed the deal for the England back-row.

Willis made his Test bow in 2020 against Georgia, scoring a try in that game, but injuries have hampered a rugby career that still has great promise.

He’s sure to relish playing in such a star-studded Toulouse side as they look to challenge on both the Top 14 and Champions Cup fronts this season.

Pumas hooker joins London Irish

Elsewhere, London Irish have confirmed the signing of Argentina international hooker Ignacio Ruiz.

The 21-year-old joins up with the Exiles with immediate effect, adding to Irish’s already plentiful contingent of Argentine talent.

Ruiz has played a part in Argentina’s recent strong form, coming off the bench in wins over Scotland in July as well as aiding in Los Pumas’ first win over England in 13 years in the Autumn Nations Series.

“I’d like to welcome Ignacio to the club. Myself and the coaching team believe he will be a great fit here as an Exile and will be made to feel welcome by his fellow countrymen and new teammates alike,” said London Irish director of rugby Declan Kidney.

“His capabilities have been trusted on the international stage recently, his impressive showings at such a young age have made him a great prospect so we are delighted to have him here with us.”

Last season, Ruiz spent his time between Jaguares XV in the Super Liga Americana and Regatas Bella Vista in Argentina’s URBA Top 13 domestic league competition.

His fourth and most recent Argentina appearance came against Gregor Townsend’s side in November, and the front-row forward can’t wait to get started in Premiership rugby.

“I’m really looking forward to joining Declan and the team in London, it is a big opportunity for me to join a club like London Irish,” Ruiz said.

“I have enjoyed playing Test rugby recently with my country, and I feel playing with London Irish will be another big step in the right direction for my career.”

France move for George Merrick

In other transfer news, second-row George Merrick has left Newcastle Falcons to join a French club with immediate effect.

The 30-year-old has made 13 appearances since joining from Worcester Warriors in the summer of 2021, and leaves with the thanks and best wishes of the club.

Newcastle Falcons head coach Dave Walder said: “George has been offered an exciting playing opportunity over in France and we wish him all the best for his move.

“He has been a positive presence around our squad during his time here, and on behalf of the entire coaching team I’d like to thank him for his contribution.”

Merrick said: “I’ve loved my time in Newcastle with a great bunch of boys, and I’m looking forward now to this new challenge.”

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The article Jack Willis: Toulouse snap up England flanker while London Irish sign Argentina hooker and George Merrick leaves Newcastle Falcons appeared first on Planetrugby.com.