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Player Movements

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Teboho Mohoje

Teboho Mohoje

The Toyota Free State Cheetahs will play Springbok Teboho Mohojé off the bench when they take on the Vodacom Blue Bulls on Friday.

The Currie Cup Round 5 match in Pretoria will see Mohojé rejoin the Free State Cheetahs after failing to make the cut for the Springboks’ Rugby World Cup squad.

Free State Cheetahs coach Franco Smith made just 1 change to the starting 15 for the trip to Loftus Versfeld.

Jacques du Toit and Elandre Hugget switch places at hooker, with Huggett starting and Du Toit on the bench.

While Mohoje found a spot on the Free State Cheetahs bench, there was no place in the matchday 22 for the Free State Cheetahs’ other discarded Springbok, wing Cornal Hendricks.

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Jan Serfontein

Jan Serfontein

Marcel van der Merwe

Marcel van der Merwe

Vodacom Blue Bulls coach Nollis Marais named Springbok prop Marcel van der Merwe in his starting front-row and added Springbok midfielder Jan Serfontein to his bench for Friday’s ABSA Currie Cup match against the Toyota Free State Cheetahs at Loftus Versfeld.

Marais also has Francois Hougaard back in the starting team after the scrumhalf missed last week’s win over the ORC Griquas due to personal reasons. He replaces Ivan van Zyl who moves back to the bench.

Hougaard’s return is the only change in the backline, but Marais made 3 changes in the pack. Van der Merwe comes in for Werner Kruger, who is rested and a fit-again Roelof Smit comes in for Jannes Kirsten at flank, with the latter moving to the bench. In the other change, Dean Greyling will be replaced by Pierre Schoeman. Greyling has a knee strain and with Schoeman fit and ready to go following a long injury lay-off, Marais decided to give Greyling a break.

Under 21 regular Schoeman will make his debut in the competition, but has played for the Blue Bulls in the Vodacom Cup.

Serfontein comes in for Dan Kriel, who will return to the Under 21 team.

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Flip van der Merwe

Flip van der Merwe

Blue Bulls & Springbok lock Flip van der Merwe has been released from his contract at the Vodacom Blue Bulls with immediate effect.

While the Blue Bulls initially decided that Van der Merwe was necessary for their ABSA Currie Cup campaign, his call-up to the Springboks a few weeks ago negated this and they had to find a way to do without him.

The Blue Bulls initially were worried about a lack of experience in the team but their good start to the Currie Cup season, where they are still unbeaten after 4 Rounds has led them to back their youngsters.

When Van der Merwe didn’t make the cut for the Springbok squad to the Rugby World Cup, it was decided to release him from his contract so that he could further his career in France.

Van der Merwe signed with French Top 14 club Clermont Auvergne during this year’s Vodacom Super Rugby season, at the same time as another Bulls lock, Jacques du Plessis, signed with Montpellier.

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From Left to Right: UAR President Carlos Araujo, Juan Martin Leguizamon & UAR Secretary Fernando Rizzi

From Left to Right: UAR President Carlos Araujo, Juan Martin Leguizamon & UAR Secretary Fernando Rizzi

Juan Manuel Leguizamon is set to return to his homeland to represent Argentina’s new Super Rugby franchise after a decade in Europe.

The veteran, who has represented London Irish, Stade Francais and Lyon, signed his contract on Tuesday in the presence of UAR President, Carlos Araujo and Secretary of the Union, Fernando Rizzi.

“This is another important day for Argentine rugby,” Araujo said.

“Juan Manuel has been a strength of the Pumas and 1 of the pillars of a process that has been underway for years and that will peak in 2016 with the inclusion of Argentina in the Super Rugby competition.

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Heyneke Meyer

Heyneke Meyer

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer on Tuesday applauded the work done by the national team’s medical, strength and conditioning staff to get the squad fit and ready for the Rugby World Cup.

Each member of the 31-man squad took part in most of the field sessions on Monday and Tuesday in Durban, including Duane Vermeulen, Jean de Villiers, Jannie du Plessis, Fourie du Preez and Francois Louw.

The training camp in Durban concludes on Wednesday and the players and management will get together again in Johannesburg on Sunday afternoon. The squad departs for England on Friday 11 September.

“We’re confident that all of the players will be fit to be considered for selection for our opening match against Japan in Brighton on 19 September,” said Meyer.

 

Duane Vermeulen at training

Duane Vermeulen at training

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Taqele Naiyaravoro

Taqele Naiyaravoro

Sam Carter

Sam Carter

James Hanson

James Hanson

The Wallabies have called Taqele Naiyaravoro, Sam Carter and James Hanson into a 34-man squad in the USA for their upcoming Test against USA Eagles at Soldier Field in Chicago.

Hanson and Carter will link with the squad in Indiana following solid performances during the opening rounds of the National Rugby Championship, while Naiyaravoro arrived at the team’s camp at Notre Dame University from London this afternoon after playing in the Barbarians’ 27 / 24 win over Samoa.

All 3 players were involved in last week’s camp in Sydney as part of the wider Wallabies training squad and will continue to play a role in the team’s preparation for the USA match.

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William Small-Smith

William Small-Smith

Jan Serfontein

Jan Serfontein

Most coaches wouldn’t see it as a problem, but Vodacom Blue Bulls coach Nollis Marais has a welcome headache this week when he makes his selection for Friday night’s ABSA Currie Cup game against the Toyota Free State Cheetahs at Loftus Versfeld.

As 1 of the unluckiest players not to be selected for the Springboks, midfielder Jan Serfontein has returned to Loftus this week to continue in the Currie Cup, and his return coincides with his SA Under 20 midfield partner William Small-Smith also being declared fit from injury.

But it isn’t as if the Blue Bulls are seriously short of midfielders as they continue their unbeaten start to the Currie Cup season either. The current duo of Burger Odendaal and Dries Swanepoel have been exceptional in their play of late and Swanepoel scored twice in the big win over Griquas on the weekend.

So Marais now sits with the headache of how to make 4 go into 3 – with 1 unlucky player likely to lose out on 1 of the 2 starting berths and a place on the bench this weekend when they host the Toyota Free State Cheetahs.

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IrelandIreland’s 2014 Player of the Year Andrew Trimble has been omitted from coach Joe Schmidt’s 31-man squad for the Rugby World Cup, announced on Tuesday.

The 30-year-old had missed this years’ Six Nations through injury but had returned to action this year and was available for the global showpiece.

Trimble has played just once for Ireland in the past 12 months, in a 35 / 12 victory over Wales in a World Cup warm-up match on 8 August, but a flare-up of his toe injury meant he played only 33 minutes of that game.

Wings Keith Earls and Luke Fitzgerald, who were injured during Saturday’s Dublin defeat by Wales, are included the squad.

Trimble, Gordan D’Arcy, Kieran Marmion were notably the most high profile players to miss out on the plane.

D’Arcy’s omission could signal the end of his illustrious international career.

The squad is made up of 17 Forwards and 14 Backs and will be captained by Paul O’Connell who is the most capped player in the Ireland group with 103 caps.

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Sikhumbuzo Notshe

Sikhumbuzo Notshe

Steven Kitshoff

Steven Kitshoff

DHL Western Province flank Sikhumbuzo Notshe will miss this Saturday’s Currie Cup clash against ORC Griquas with an AC Joint injury.

The impressive Notshe is not expected to be out for longer than a week, but coach John Dobson does have some loose forward options to replace him.

“Jurie van Vuuren is back to full fitness and someone like Chris Cloete deserves an opportunity, after coming off the bench so far,” coach John Dobson said.

“Chris starting would mean Rynhardt Elstadt moving back to No 7, but we’re comfortable either way in our players.”

In other news, Springbok squad member Steven Kitshoff (loosehead prop) and Barbarians representative Nic Groom (scrumhalf) are both available for selection this week.

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Lausii Taliauli

Lausii Taliauli

Raun Smith

Raun Smith

2 Players with a big future in Super Rugby have re-signed with the Brumbies.

Former Australian Sevens representative Lausii Taliauli has signed a new 1-year deal with the club while tighthead prop Ruan Smith has signed a new 2-year deal.

Taliauli has been earmarked as 1 of Australia’s top wing prospects following his debut for the Brumbies in Round 1 of the 2015 Super Rugby Season. He made 7 appearances for the side this year and crossed for 1 try.

Brumbies Head Coach Stephen Larkham showed faith in the former Gold Coast Titans NRL winger, by selecting Taliauli to start on the wing in the Brumbies Super Rugby Semi-Final loss to the Hurricanes in Wellington.

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ScotlandScotland’s 31-man Rugby World Cup squad has been named, the players have been told, and it was publicly announced this afternoon at Edinburgh University.

After almost 3 months of hard training and 2 wins out of 3 in the warm-up games, Vern Cotter has made his decision and the paperwork has been delivered to the tournament organisers. Supporters were treated at the Old College Quad to see today’s announcement, which was made at 14:30 BST (15:30 SA Time), and supporters had a chance to mingle with the players afterwards.

Following Saturday’s 48 / 7 win over Italy at BT Murrayfield, Cotter and his coaching staff met for final discussions and assessments of the medical reports before confirming the squad and informing the players of the decision.

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Warren Whiteley

Warren Whiteley

Players who failed to make the final 31-man Springbok Rugby World Cup squad have rejoined their respective provinces for ABSA Currie Cup duty.

Out of the original 49 players named prior to this year’s Rugby Championship, 18 will either be available for their South African provinces or jet off to rejoin their overseas clubs.

This means Warren Whiteley (Xerox Golden Lions), Vincent Koch (Steval Pumas), Lionel Mapoe (Xerox Golden Lions), Cornal Hendricks (Toyota Free State Cheetahs), Marcell Coetzee (Cell C Sharks), Cobus Reinach (Cell C Sharks), Scarra Ntubeni (DHL Western Province), Oupa Mohoje (Toyota Free State Cheetahs), Franco Mostert (Xerox Golden Lions), Marcel van der Merwe (Vodacom Blue Bulls), Jan Serfontein (Vodacom Blue Bulls), Steven Kitshoff (DHL Western Province) and Frans Steyn (Cell C Sharks) can be considered for Currie Cup duty from this weekend.

Players like Heinrich Brussow (Docomo Red Hurricanes, Japan), Elton Jantjies (NTT Shining Arcs, Japan), Jaque Fourie (Kobelco Steelers) and Heinke van der Merwe (Stade Francais, France) will head for their overseas clubs.

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Springbok Rugby World Cup 2015 squad

Springbok Rugby World Cup 2015 squad

With the Springbok Rugby World Cup Squad having been announced on Friday at 18:00 SA Time, this weekend has slowly seen the emergence of the reaction to it.

The general reaction, mine included, is that some players should not be there and some should… but I think it’s fair to say that almost everybody agrees on 85% PLUS of the selected players… call them the “Non-Contestables”, if you will.

It is those final 7 or 8 players which the bickering has featured about as well as the undoubted support for or against the national coach, Heyneke Meyer.

From Government circles, the Minister of Sport & Recreation, Fikile Mbalula, has praised the team and announced that the South African Rugby Union (SARU) is on track with their transformation goals.

To counter this, some obscure little piddly widdly Political Party, the Agency for New Agenda Party…. yeah right, who the hell are they, you are also asking, like me.. have brought a High Court Application in the North Gauteng High Court, seeking an urgent order to compel SARU and the Sports Department officials to surrender their passports so they cannot travel.

Heyneke Meyer has had to fend off those who have questioned some of his selections too, mainly the selection of Rudy Paige at scrumhalf, the only uncapped Springbok in the squad and he has had to give reasons for the specific selection.

In recent weeks, the previous Springbok coach, Peter de Villiers, has also come out with some scathing critisism against Heyneke Meyer, and De Villiers has gone so far as to join forces with Labour Movement, Cosatu, to get his agenda and points accross as well as to form the backbone of a pressure group for the inclusion of more players of colour. Heyneke Meyer has retorted with a very simple yet eloquent reply, by praising Peter de Villiers.

Lastly, with fears regarding the fitness of a number of previously injured and rehabilitating players included in the squad, most notably Fourie du Preez, Jean de Villiers, Duane Vermeulen, Jannie du Plessis and Coenie Oosthuizen, coach Meyer now assures us that all 31 players will be ready to play when the tournament starts on 18 September.

So here goes, let’s look at all these aspects in more depth:

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Vodacom Blue BullsThe Blue Bulls Company (Pty) Ltd on Monday confirmed that a number of high profile Springboks have extended their contracts with the Blue Bulls Company for the next couple of seasons.

The likes of Handré Pollard (Oct 2019), Adriaan Strauss (Oct 2019), Jesse Kriel (Oct 2019), Trevor Nyakane (Oct 2018) and Jan Serfontein (Oct 2017) all confirmed their futures with the Vodacom Bulls and Vodacom Blue Bulls, by signing extensions that will keep them in Pretoria for a considerable time.

“This is a clear indication that frontline players see the Vodacom Bulls and Vodacom Blue Bulls as the ideal place to continue and build their already impressive careers,” says High Performance Manager at the Blue Bulls Comapany, Xander Janse van Rensburg.

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Warren Gatland

Warren Gatland

Wales coach Warren Gatland named prop Samson Lee in his 31-man squad for this year’s Rugby World Cup.

Lee has not played since rupturing his Achilles tendon in March.

Flyhalf Gareth Anscombe was left out in favour of Matthew Morgan.

Wales are in Pool A with hosts England, Australia, Fiji and Uruguay.

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Springboks

The South African Springboks squad, to take on the world’s best in England, at the 2015 Rugby World Cup was officially announced at 18:00 SA Time (16:00 GMT), live on SuperSport 1 on TV in South Africa.

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer is on a hiding to nothing, no matter which squad he would have selected, whether it be from lobbyists saying that there are not enough players of colour in the side OR whether he is accused of player bias OR choosing old favourites… OR not choosing players on merit.

I urge everybody to accept his selection prerogatives, even though you or me would have done it differently, and to get behind this Springbok side for the Rugby World Cup, where they will be representing their country to the best of their abilities.

The “Ghost Squad” has already been discussed ad-nauseam, the announced squad is exactly the same and feature the inclusion of fringe players like Zane Kirchner, Rudy Paige, Siya Kolisi and Morné Steyn.

Injured or previously injured players like Fourie du Preez, Jean de Villiers, Duane Vermeulen, Coenie Oosthuizen, Jannie du Plessis is also be included in the squad.

A number of players are hugely unlucky not to be selected, they include Heinrich Brüssow, Steven Kitshoff, Marcel van der Merwe, Vincent Koch, Marcell Coetzee, Jan Serfontein, Frans Steyn, Cornal Hendricks, Cobus Reinach and Francois Hougaard.

Here is the Springbok Rugby World Cup squad for 2015, which is now official:

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Nehe Milner-Skudder

Nehe Milner-Skudder

Waisake Naholo

Waisake Naholo

Nehe Milner-Skudder and Waisake Naholo were rewarded for their fine form after they were included in New Zealand’s Rugby World Cup squad.

The inclusion of the 2 pacemean means that there is no place for veterans Israel Dagg and Cory Jane in the squad. Charles Piutau, who has featured regularly for the All Blacks in the last 2 seasons, also misses out on selection.

The squad, captained by Richie McCaw, features 17 forwards and 14 backs. It will be a particularly exciting time for 17 of the All Blacks squad, who will be going to their 1st Rugby World Cup tournament.

All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen said said the squad was a reflection of the depth the country has at the moment.

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David Pocock

David Pocock

The Brumbies are celebrating the re-signing of 1 of world rugby’s most respected players, after David Pocock committed to a new 1-year deal with the club.

Pocock was a standout for the Brumbies in 2015 and was rewarded with 3 of the club’s highest on-field honours, the Brett Robinson Player’s Player, the fan-voted Stallion of the Year and the Best Forward awards.

Capping off a remarkable season, he was also named the Australian Super Rugby Player of the Year at the annual John Eales Medal ceremony in Sydney.

His achievements this season were made even more remarkable by the fact he had played just 5 games in 2013 and 2014 due to 2 serious knee injuries.

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Kurtley Beale

Kurtley Beale

The Waratahs and Australian Rugby Union (ARU) have announced the re-signing of Kurtley Beale on a contract that will see him in Australia for at least a further 2 years, until the end of 2017.

Waratahs Head Coach Daryl Gibson said Beale’s commitment to the side for 2 more seasons would continue his significant contribution to the legacy of the club.

“Kurtley has played some of his best football for the Waratahs, and I am confident we will see his game continue to progress in the seasons to come,” Gibson said.

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Francois Hougaard

Francois Hougaard

The Vodacom Blue Bulls will be without Francois Hougaard and Hanro Liebenberg this weekend. Livewire Hougaard will miss Saturday’s ABSA Currie Cup clash against ORC Griquas in Kimberley due to personal commitments, as his sister is getting married and he was given permission to miss the clash while Liebenberg is out injured.

Ivan van Zyl will start at scrumhalf in his run-on debut for the Vodacom Blue Bulls, whilst the return of Springbok Arno Botha at No 8 will offset the loss of Liebenberg, who will be out for at least a month.

Botha has just returned from injury and will be part of a new loose trio that will also feature regular captain, Lappies Labuschagne, and new starter, Jannes Kirsten, who debuted for the team last weekend from the bench. Kirsten replaces the injured Roelof Smit in the last of 3 changes to the starting team from last weekend.

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WP Nel

WP Nel

WP Nel is due to start a test match for Scotland for the 1st time when they face Italy at BT Murrayfield on Saturday. The burly tighthead prop from Loeriesfontein qualifies to play for Scotland on residency grounds, having played for Edinburgh for the last 3 years. Nel who earned his 1st Scotland cap against Italy in Turin last weekend when he came on as a substitute in the 47th minunte is 1 of 14 changes that has been made to the starting team.

Sean Lamont is the only player who retains his place in the starting line-up from last week with several players in the match day squad making their 1st appearance in this series of warm-up matches.

Head coach Vern Cotter announced his team today and the starting line-up appears to be close to what could be considered his 1st choice 15. The halfbacks and fullback look to be Cotter’s favoured choices while there may still be 1 or 2 changes on the wings and 1 at centre. Up front we are likely to be seeing the 1st choice tight 5 in action while there will possibly still be a change or 2 to the loose forward trio.

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Xerox Golden LionsXerox Golden Lions head coach Johan Ackermann has selected his team for Friday evening’s clash against the Steval Pumas in Nelspruit.

Ackermann has made 4 personnel changes to the starting forward group, which downed the Cell C Sharks 31 / 16 last weekend. In the front row, Jacques van Rooyen will start at loosehead prop, with Ruan Dreyer shifting to tighthead.

Additionally, Martin Muller will start at lock while Fabian Booysen returns to the No 8 berth as a result of the injury to Ruaan Lerm.

As a result of a late quadriceps injury that captain Jaco Kriel sustained during this morning’s captain’s run, Stephan de Wit has also been included in the side at flank. The extent of Kriel’s injury is not known at this stage.

A change in the Xerox Golden Lions backline sees Sampie Mastriet start at wing, shifting Ruan Combrinck out to fullback.

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Sam Burgess

Sam Burgess

Sam Burgess was included in England’s final 31-man squad for the Rugby World Cup announced on Thursday just 10 months after changing codes from rugby league.

Burgess, the man-of-the-match in South Sydney Rabbitohs’ win in the Australian National Rugby League Grand Final, was included after playing just 70 minutes of Test rugby union – his debut in a 19 / 14 win over France at Twickenham a fortnight ago seeing him sin-binned for 10 minutes.

The 26-year-old edged out the more experienced Luther Burrell for a place among England coach Stuart Lancaster’s centres even though Burgess spent much of last season playing as a back-row forward for Bath.

Henry Slade, who also impressed on his debut against France at Twickenham, was also included in midfield alongside Burgess – although Jonathan Joseph and Brad Barritt appear to be England’s 1st-choice centres.

Ben Morgan, only recently returned from a broken leg, was included among the back-row forwards with Harlequins veteran Nick Easter missing out while Sale flyhalf Danny Cipriani, as was widely forecast, also failed to make it to the final squad.

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Kobus van Wyk

Kobus van Wyk

Wing Kobus van Wyk is back in the DHL Western Province line-up for Friday evening’s ABSA Currie Cup clash against the Toyota Free State Cheetahs at the Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein.

DHL WP, the defending ABSA Currie Cup champions, will be looking to bounce back from last weekend’s defeat to the Vodacom Blue Bulls in Pretoria and Van Wyk’s inclusion is 1 of 3 changes to the starting line-up this time around.

The hard-running Van Wyk comes in for Dillyn Leyds on the right-wing, scrumhalf Godlen Masimla replaces Nic Groom, who is on Barbarians duty in London, and Alistair Vermaak starts at loosehead prop in place of the injured Oli Kebble.

Kebble’s hamstring has not recovered sufficiently from the weekend, whilst exciting talent Masimla will make his 1st ABSA Currie Cup start for DHL Western Province in the absence of both Groom and Jano Vermaak, who injured his finger against the Vodacom Blue Bulls.

Fit-again halfback Louis Schreuder is the new scrumhalf replacement and he will be joined on the bench by ABSA Currie Cup debutant JP Smith – the new prop replacement – and lock Jan de Klerk, who comes in for the injured Chris van Zyl (knee).

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Gert Smal

Gert Smal

Springbok stars Frans Malherbe, Eben Etzebeth, Siya Kolisi and Damian de Allende have all committed their long-term rugby futures to DHL Western Province and the DHL Stormers.

Prop Malherbe, lock Etzebeth, flanker Kolisi and centre De Allende are in contention to represent South Africa at the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England, having all been part of the Springbok squad this season after stellar Vodacom Super Rugby campaigns for the DHL Stormers.

Between them, the quartet have featured in 61 Tests, Etzebeth leading the way with 37 Test appearances since his debut against England in 2012, with Malherbe (6 Tests) and Kolisi (11 Tests) making their debuts in 2013 and De Allende (7 Tests) playing his 1st international in 2014.

“Frans Malherbe, Eben Etzebeth, Siya Kolisi and Damian de Allende have all been developed here at Western Province, coming through our youth structures and going on to play Test rugby for South Africa as standout DHL Stormers and DHL Western Province players,” said WP Director of Rugby Gert Smal.

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Hanro Liebenberg

Hanro Liebenberg

Vodacom Blue Bulls No 8, Hanro Liebenberg, will miss at least the next 6 weeks of the ABSA Currie Cup due to surgery, but Arno Botha has been cleared to play in the competition this weekend.

Liebenberg left the field late in the 1st half after a heavy tackle that saw him limp off, and there were no signs of the rupture in the scan that the Blue Bulls medical personnel did after the game on Saturday night.

But on Sunday Liebenberg didn’t feel well and headed back to the medical personnel, who rushed him to hospital where he was admitted in a serious condition and diagnosed with a ruptured small intestine and bruised colon from the tackle.

There was widespread fear on Monday that the injury could be career-ending as Liebenberg underwent emergency surgery in Pretoria, but the operation was a success, with a 2nd operation scheduled for Wednesday.

The SA Under 20 captain is set to miss most of the rest of the Currie Cup season because of the injury, and will face a slow road to recovery after the rupture released gas into his body that deteriorated his condition fast.

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EP KingsFollowing their narrow 15 / 13 Currie Cup loss to the Steval Pumas in Port Elizabeth at the weekend, the EP Kings have a few more injury concerns.

Centre Tim Whitehead suffered concussion in the game against the Pumas and his availability for this weekend’s home game against the Sharks is in doubt.

He was cleared of symptoms, but will follow a gradual return to play protocol until Thursday. If he comes through that, then he will be cleared to face his former team.

Flyhalf George Whitehead picked up a knee injury and saw a specialist on Monday to determine the severity of the injury.

Flank Jacques Engelbrecht has a left hip pointer injury and is likely to be sidelined for the next 2 weeks, while prop Basil Short has recovered from a foot injury, but a spider bite has kept him sidelined this week.

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Jaco Kriel

Jaco Kriel

The Xerox Golden Lions medical group have released a report ahead of the team’s match against the Steval Pumas in Nelspruit this weekend.

Only 1 new injury was sustained during last weekend’s victory over the Cell C Sharks.

Loose forward Ruaan Lerm has sustained a grade II ankle ligament strain and is expected to be out of action for approximately 4 weeks.

Captain Jaco Kriel, who sustained a concussion during last weekend’s match, is recovering well and has commenced a graded return to play (GRTP) programme on Monday. He is expected to be available for selection for Friday’s match.

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Aaron Smith

Aaron Smith

New Zealand Rugby, the Highlanders and Manawatu Rugby have announced that Aaron Smith has re-committed through until at least the end of the 2019 season.

26-Year-old Smith, who has played 41 Tests for the All Blacks, 78 games (including 60 consecutive matches) for the Highlanders and more than 40 matches for the Manawatu Turbos, has become an integral part of the All Blacks and Highlanders success over the last few years. He was a standout player for the Highlanders this season, helping the team to their inaugural Super Rugby title and carried his form into the All Blacks season.

The Test scrumhalf said, “I’m really excited and thankful for the commitment shown from New Zealand Rugby, including the Highlanders and Manawatu Turbos.

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Valerio Bernabo

Valerio Bernabo

Italy veteran Marco Bortolami was sidelined, while Valerio Bernabo was a surprise inclusion in Italy’s 31-man squad for the World Cup.

Lock Bortolami, has amassed 112 caps for the Azzurri and captained them 40 times.

He was 1 of several players cut from an initial 40-man training squad by coach Jacques Brunel.

“It was very difficult to communicate the decision, especially when you’ve put in as much work as the lads have over the past 9 weeks,” said Brunel.

“So to tell several players they were not coming to the World Cup was particularly difficult.”

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Atunaisa Moli

Atunaisa Moli

New Zealand Under 20 Junior World Cup winning captain, Atunaisa Moli, has signed with the Chiefs for the next 2 years.

The versatile Waikato prop who can play both sides of the scrum has impressed head coach Dave Rennie since being a part of the Chiefs’ development program in 2014.

Moli toured Hong Kong with the side earlier this season in addition to spending time training with the Chiefs’ core Super Rugby squad.

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Salesi Ma'afu

Salesi Ma’afu

Australian international prop Salesi Ma’afu is in custody over an alleged assault, a police source said on Monday.

The 32-year-old Toulon player, capped 14 times by the Wallabies, is believed to have been involved in a heated argument over a parking place on 16 August and is reported to have hit someone who attempted to intervene.

Ma’afu has not sparkled in pre-season friendlies since he joined the 3-time European champions from English side Northampton, and only came on for the last half hour of the opening day 22 / 27 defeat to Racing-Metro on Friday.

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Canada2 Players with links to the Western Cape have been included in Canada’s squad for the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England.

Former Glasgow Warriors winger DTH vd Merwe, who has now moved to Llanelli Scarlets in Wales, made the squad announced by coach Kieran Crowley. DTH vd Merwe was born in Worcester and represented Boland at Under 16 level before he emigrated to Canada with his parents. He has played for Canada on numerous occasions and will be 1 of their stalwarts with this being his 3rd World Cup.

Another player, who has spent time in the Western Cape and should be familiar to the Newlands faithful, Jebb Sinclair has also made the squad. Sinclair, who is a backrow player but can also play in the 2nd row, played for the Stormers and Western Province in 2012 and is another veteran of Canadian Rugby. He played in the 2011 World Cup as well.

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dannycipriani

Danny Cipriani scoring against France

Sale flyhalf Danny Cipriani will be left out of England’s 31-man squad for the Rugby World Cup.

The 27-year-old impressed off the bench in the defeat by France last weekend, but has not done enough to be included in Stuart Lancaster’s final party.

Owen Farrell and George Ford are set to be named as the 2 flyhalves, with Mike Brown and Alex Goode as the fullbacks, leaving no place for Cipriani.

The squad will be confirmed on Thursday at 14:45 SA Time (13:45 BST, 12:45 GMT).

The tournament, held in England and Wales, gets under way on 18 September.

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Philippe Saint-Andre

Philippe Saint-Andre

Experienced flyhalf Francois Trinh-Duc will miss the Rugby World Cup which gets underway in England next month.

He was surprisingly omitted from the France squad announced by coach Philippe Saint-Andre on Sunday.

The 28-year-old who played an influential role for France at the 2011 Rugby World Cup when they lost 7 / 8 to the New Zealand All Blacks in the Final – lost out to unpredictable veteran Frederic Michalak (who played in Saturday’s win over England) and Remi Tales.

Trinh-Duc, capped 50 times since being blooded by Marc Lievremont in 2008, found it difficult to impose himself under Saint-Andre and a serious injury last season ruled him out of contention for this season’s Six Nations.

He was given a chance to prove himself worthy of a spot in the 1st game against England a week ago – a 19 / 14 defeat at Twickenham – but evidently failed to convince Saint-Andre and his coaching staff.

“It is a choice which has been made – not only after 7 weeks, but also after 3 years of life with the squad,” said Saint-Andre, who also cited Trinh-Duc’s lack of accuracy at place-kicking.

For Michalak, who will celebrate his 33rd birthday during the tournament, it represents his 3rd Rugby World Cup – having 1st made an impression at international level during the 2003 edition in Australia.

Despite concerns over his fitness and form, Saint-Andre has kept faith with the 72-times capped playmaker.

In contrast to the flyhalf position Saint-Andre has selected 3 scrumhalves, in Morgan Parra (who was Lievremont’s favoured No 9 alongside Trinh-Duc for much of his reign), South African-born Rory Kockott and Michalak’s clubmate Sebastien Tillous-Borde.

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