Winters joins Harlequins exodus to Bristol

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The Independent Online

Bristol have signed their second player in three days from relegated Harlequins, recruiting the England A forward Roy Winters.

Bristol have signed their second player in three days from relegated Harlequins, recruiting the England A forward Roy Winters.

Winters, who began his career with Bedford, follows the England Under-21 centre Andy Reay to the Memorial Stadium after agreeing a two-year contract. He started in the second row during Quins' 23-22 defeat against Sale last Saturday which sent them down into National League One but can also play at blind-side flanker or No 8.

"Roy is a superb professional, not afraid of hard work, and he will give you 100 per cent all the time," the Bristol head coach Richard Hill said. "He can play four, six or eight, so he offers great versatility. I've got a few forwards now who fall into that bracket. They can cover more than one position, and that gives me so many more options. Roy was an England A player not so very long ago, and he will give us some more of that crucial Premiership experience."

Bristol's busy recruitment campaign, in preparation for next season's Premiership return, is also likely to see them sign Richard Dourthe. The former France centre, 30, met club officials last week about a possible move from Castres.

One of Bristol's considerable crop of home-grown players, the former England U21 No 8 Richard Martin-Redman, has agreed a new two-year deal with the club.

Sale have confirmed the signing of the Tongan international utility player Epi Taione from their Premiership rivals Newcastle on a two-year contract. Rob Andrew's team have already lost the England wing Michael Stephenson to Bath.

The Sale coach Kingsley Jones said: "Epi is an excellent centre, and can also cover as a wing and back-row forward, making him a valuable addition to our squad."

Taione, 26, added: "I have been looking for a fresh start and a new challenge, and I am looking forward to playing for Sale Sharks."

The New Zealand coach Graham Henry and his assistants Steve Hansen and Wayne Smith have had their contracts extended until the end of 2007.

The three were appointed last year and their current deals were due to expire at the end of this year but, after a review of the 2004 season - during which the All Blacks defeated England in two Tests, finished last in the Tri-Nations and went unbeaten on their autumn tour to Europe - the New Zealand Rugby Football Union announced that their contracts would be extended for a further two years, to include the World Cup campaign in France in 2007.

The NZRFU chairman, Jock Hobbs, said that the decision was designed to allow the All Blacks panel to start building towards the 2007 World Cup and to provide a sense of certainty to New Zealand's élite players regarding coaching and selection in the coming seasons.

The All Blacks face Fiji before contesting a three-Test series with the British and Irish Lions in June and July.

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