Today's rugby news as stars face Six Nations fitness battle and Eddie Jones suffers new blow – Wales Online

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These are your rugby headlines on Saturday, December 9.
England prop Ellis Genge faces a battle to be fit in time for the 2024 Six Nations after picking up a hamstring injury in training.
The 28-year-old is set for a number of weeks on the sidelines in a cruel blow, having been in fine form since returning from the World Cup. The Bristol Bears forward, who also captained his country for the first time earlier this year, had scored tries in his last two Premiership appearances.
Genge will miss the start of Bristol's Champions Cup campaign as they host Lyon on Saturday, while he will also be absent for their visit to Bordeaux-Begles on December 16. England kick off their Six Nations away to Italy on February 3, but Bristol have said he is currently expected to return in time for the championships.
Ireland coach Andy Farrell also faces a nervous wait, however, after star Mack Hansen was forced off with an ankle injury in the first half of Connacht's 41-5 drubbing by Bordeaux.
The wing pulled up in the 22nd minute and played no further part in the contest in concerning scenes not just for his club but for Farrell and Irish fans, with the Six Nations now just eight weeks away.
Former England and Australia coach Eddie Jones has suffered a new blow as he is set to lose out on a new international coaching role to his former assistant.
The 63-year-old has been heavily linked with a return as head coach of Japan in recent weeks and reportedly attended a second interview with bosses earlier this week as he nears ever closer to the move.
But MailOnline report that Jones was also of interest to Georgia, having resigned from his position with the Wallabies after a dismal World Cup campaign that saw them crash out in the pool stages for the first time ever.
However, the outspoken coach will miss out on taking charge of the Lelos, with his former forwards coach Richard Cockerill set to replace Levan Maisashvili after being brutally sacked from Montpellier last month.
The publication reports that Cockerill is in the Georgian capital Tbilisi this weekend to finalise negotiations. while he is also set to be in attendance for the European Challenge Cup match between Black Lion and Gloucester later today.
"We discussed almost every possible candidate. Whether it was Eddie Jones or others, we talked to almost everyone," said Georgia Rugby president Ioseb Tkemaladze.
"Richard is coming to have closer talks. We still have to agree on micro-details with him and hopefully we will be able to do that. We are close to reaching an agreement. If we agree, he will receive a long-term offer. The contract will be four years."
By PA
Ireland will play two Tests against the world champion Springboks in South Africa next summer.
Andy Farrell's squad face South Africa in Pretoria on July 6 and then in Durban a week later, the South African Rugby Union has announced.
It will be Ireland's first trip to South Africa since 2016, when they lost a three-Test series 2-1 after winning the opening encounter in Cape Town.
Since that series, Ireland have beaten the Springboks on three-successive occasions – twice in Dublin and then during the recent Rugby World Cup pool stage in Paris.
South Africa, meanwhile, will tackle Portugal for the first time on July 20 next year.
Portugal were one of the World Cup's success stories in France, drawing with Georgia, giving Wales a stern test and ending their campaign by recording a famous 24-23 victory over Fiji.
By Andrew Baldock, PA Rugby Union Correspondent
Sam Warburton believes that French dominance will continue in Europe this season and he has backed Toulouse to win the Investec Champions Cup.
While former Wales and British and Irish Lions captain Warburton readily acknowledges the presence of teams like Saracens, Leinster and an in-form Bath, he sees France's heavyweight contingent taking charge. La Rochelle are bidding for a Champions Cup hat-trick, while a Toulouse triumph would extend their tournament record to six European titles.
Only once since 2012 has a French team failed to reach the final, with five clubs – La Rochelle, Toulouse, Toulon, Clermont Auvergne and Racing 92 – experiencing the showpiece occasion during that time.
Saracens are boosted by skipper Owen Farrell's first appearance since his decision to step away from Test rugby to prioritise his and his family's mental well-being when they tackle the Bulls in Pretoria on Saturday. And Farrell's England colleague Manu Tuilagi returns from a hand injury that has sidelined him since the Rugby World Cup finished for Sale Sharks' Sunday appointment with Stade Francais.
But while those games are attractive fixtures on the 24-team tournament's opening weekend, Warburton predicts a familiar tale unfolding.
"I am going to go with Toulouse. Their squad is phenomenal," TNT Sports pundit Warburton told the PA news agency. "La Rochelle have the pragmatism, the x-factor and the physicality, so you are thinking 'blimey, what's the weakness'? They have got the squad depth, particularly given the playing budgets.
"The French teams have all of those qualities in abundance, so they are going to be tough to beat."

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