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Player Movements

Jake McIntyre

Jake McIntyre

Jake McIntyre becomes the latest inductee to the Reds’ flyhalf club, when he makes his Super Rugby debut against the Melbourne Rebels in Brisbane on Friday.

A member of the Reds elite development squad and the starting flyhalf for the majority of Brisbane City’s title run in the inaugural National Rugby Championship, McIntyre’s inclusion is 1 of 2 changes and a number of positional shakeups – following last week’s Super Rugby loss to the Crusaders.

McIntyre, who has been unavailable for the majority of the 2015 season due to off-season knee surgery, will follow other Reds flyhalf selections like Quade Cooper (still injured), Karmichael Hunt (back from injury) and Nick Frisby (struggling with concussion).

Hunt returns to the starting line-up, after overcoming an adductor strain, to feature in the centres for the 1st time this season.

He will start at outside centre, with Samu Kerevi shifting to inside centre.

Coach Richard Graham has also shuffled the outside backs, with James O’Connor shifting to fullback and Lachie Turner moving to the wing.

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Seabelo SenatlaThere appears to be an outside chance that Springbok Sevens flyer Seabelo Senatla may feature for the DHL Stormers in the closing stages of Vodacom Super Rugby.

The Blitzbokke finish off their 2014 / 2015 campaign in London later this week and Stormers coach Allister Coetzee says that he will investigate the option of having the speedy winger available for the last games of the round robin phase.

Senatla will have to play a couple of games to be eligible for the Finals Series that starts late in June, with the Stormers in a 3-way fight at the moment with the Vodacom Bulls and Emirates Lions to get that far.

The product of Welkom was a revelation on the wing for Western Province in last year’s ABSA Currie Cup and with the Stormers struggling to score tries this season – they have just one 4-try bonus point from their 12 matches so far – it would make sense for Coetzee to look at Senatla.

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Willie Britz

Willie Britz

Toyota Cheetahs loose forward Willie Britz has confirmed that he will join the Shining Arcs in Japan after this year’s Super Rugby competition.

The good news for Cheetahs fans though is that Britz will only be unavailable during the Currie Cup, before returning to play Super Rugby next season.

He is contracted to the Cheetahs until the end of the 2016 season.

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Jacobie Adriaanse

Jacobie Adriaanse

Tighthead prop Jacobie Adriaanse is the latest South African set to join Jake White at French club Montpellier.

Adriaanse, 29, will be available for Montpellier from June after ending his stint with Welsh club, Llanelli Scarlets.

Adriaanse has represented the Scarlets 51 times since joining them in November 2012.

His contract with Montpellier is only until after the Rugby World Cup (October 31).

Adriaanse said that he could consider staying longer should things fall in place.

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Matt Toomua

Matt Toomua

Brumbies flyhalf Matt Toomua joined the Canberra-based outfit ahead of their Super Rugby clash against the Emirates Lions in Johannesburg this Saturday.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Toomua arrived in Johannesburg on Tuesday.

Toomua has missed the past 4 weeks with an ankle injury but is set to be injected straight into the starting side to play the Lions.

Despite an agonising 25 / 24 loss to the DHL Stormers at Newlands last weekend, the Brumbies (33 points) still hold a 1-point lead in the Australian conference ahead of the Waratahs (32 points) and the Melbourne Rebels (29 points).

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Emirates LionsThe Golden Lions Rugby Union has secure the services of 4 key players beyond the current season.

The GLRU announced contract extension with star back Andries Coetzee, Ruan Combrinck and Howard Mnisi, as well as forward Luvuyiso ‘MB’ Lusaseni.

The union also secured the services of a number of up and coming players – Malcolm Marx (hooker), Sevens Springbok Albertus ‘Kwagga’ Smith (flank), Jaco van der Walt (flyhalf), Lourens Erasmus (lock) and Bobby de Wee (lock / flank).

The GLRU, in a statement, said they are aiming to retain and develop top junior players by creating opportunities and an environment that promises growth both on and off the field.

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Japan signs for Super Rugby

Japan may be the newest kid on the block in Vodacom Super Rugby when the tournament gets a revamp at the end of this season, but they could also be South African rugby’s best friend in the fight to keep players at home.

South African Super Rugby franchises are actively seeking partnerships with Japanese clubs at the moment to “twin” and allow players to head abroad in the Absa Currie Cup season to play in Japan, then return home for Super Rugby.

This masterstroke is seen as one of the bigger ways of countering the threat from European clubs poaching players from South Africa and could also mean closing the gap between the salaries offered in Europe and those earned at home.

The 1st franchise to implement such an agreement have been the Toyota Cheetahs, who have twinning agreements now with 2 clubs in Japan, both through their sponsors Toyota to try and keep their players in South Africa for Super Rugby.

The Cheetahs already have 2 players – flanker Heinrich Brüssow and midfielder Johann Sadie – who play for Japanese club Docomo Red Hurricanes and will continue to motivate for their players to pursue a dual season in both Japanese rugby and South Africa.

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Semi Kunatani

Semi Kunatani

Free-scoring Fiji rugby Sevens powerhouse Semi Kunatani has joined French Top 14 club Toulouse on a 2-year deal, the club said on Tuesday.

The rampaging 24-year-old can play as a lock, flank or wing and with 37 international tries since his debut in 2013 he is seen as one of the best sevens players in the world.

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Taqele Naiyaravoro

Taqele Naiyaravoro

The Scottish Rugby Union is set to spend a 6-figure fee to sign powerhouse Fijian-born wing Taqele Naiyaravoro, with the aim of making him eligible to play for Scotland after a 3-year residency period.

Naiyaravoro, who has been compared to All Blacks legend Jonah Lomu, declined to comment on reports he had signed with Edinburgh, but Waratahs CEO Greg Harris said the Fijian-born powerhouse had a contractual obligation to the Scottish team.

This clause in the contract states that if the Australians call him up for international duty, he will remain in the Southern Hemisphere.

According to reports in Australia, New South Wales Waratahs wing Naiyaravoro has been allocated to Edinburgh as part of a 3-year deal worth AUS $ 1 million to the 23-year-old.

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Euan Murray

Euan Murray

Scotland’s most-capped prop Euan Murray announced his retirement from international rugby yesterday.

The 34-year-old brings down the curtain on an international career that began against Romania ten years ago, included the 2009 British & Irish Lions tour of South Africa and the 2008 Calcutta Cup victory over England, and ended with his record-breaking outing against Ireland in the final game of the 2015 RBS 6 Nations.

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Steven Kitshoff

Steven Kitshoff

Eben Etzebeth

Eben Etzebeth

Lock Eben Etzebeth is back from his enforced week of Springbok rest and he will be joined in the DHL Stormers pack by loosehead prop Steven Kitshoff for Saturday’s Vodacom Super Rugby clash against the Brumbies at DHL Newlands (Kick-Off 17:05 SA Time).

Etzebeth was rested from last week’s defeat to the Toyota Cheetahs in Bloemfontein as part of the South African Franchises’ agreement with SA Rugby, whilst Kitshoff was given a break as part of the DHL Stormers’ rotation policy.

Etzebeth will wear the No 4 shirt this weekend, with Kitshoff lining up at loosehead prop. Jean Kleyn drops down to bench after starting against the Cheetahs, whilst Manuel Carizza will start at No 5 in the absence of the injured Ruan Botha (ankle). Kitshoff, meanwhile, replaces Oli Kebble in the No 1 shirt with Alistair Vermaak remaining on the bench.

Vice-captain Juan de Jongh has been named at outside centre, but he has been bracketed with Huw Jones after suffering a hip pointer injury against the Cheetahs.

De Jongh has made a better recovery than initially anticipated, but will still be given until kick-off on Saturday. Jones will start at No 13 should De Jongh not be available, with Pat Howard set to come onto the bench.

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Jean de Villiers, Springbok captain, with knee dislocation injury against Wales

Jean de Villiers, Springbok captain, with knee dislocation injury against Wales

 

Springbok captain Jean de Villiers has revealed he has targeted the beginning of July to be back on the field.

If he achieves his aim, it will be an exceptional recovery from a total knee reconstruction after the painful injury he suffered in the match against Wales at the end of last season.

Since then De Villiers has been working tirelessly at rehabilitating the knee in order to meet the deadline, with things going a lot better than initially expected.

The Bok captain is already running again and hopes next month to resume team training before getting onto the field in early July.

Speaking at the Supersport Networking lunch at the Johannesburg Country Club, De Villiers was an optimistic man, and said if all goes to plan he will be fit and on the field again long before the final Rugby World Cup squad was picked.

“The recovery has gone very well. These days whenever I meet someone it’s always the 1st question,” De Villiers said.

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Rudy Paige

Rudy Paige

Burger Odendaal

Burger Odendaal

Apart from welcoming back Rudy Paige and Burger Odendaal, the Vodacom Bulls named Werner Kruger, Jacques-Louis Potgieter and Dean Greyling in their touring squad for the overseas leg of their Vodacom Super Rugby tour to Australasia.

Kruger has recovered from an ankle injury after several weeks on the sidelines, while Potgieter (hamstring) and Greyling (leg) was also declared fit along with Rudy Paige (knee) and Burger Odendaal (ankle).

With Piet van Zyl out for the rest of the season, Andre Warner will tour as 3rd scrumhalf, the Vodacom Blue Bulls and UP-Tuks’ scrumhalf’s 1st participation in the squad. Travis Ismaiel will also tour as the extra outside back.

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Richie McCaw

Richie McCaw

Dan Carter

Dan Carter

A host of Crusaders could be playing their last ever Super Rugby match in Christchurch as the 7-time champs play host to the Reds this Friday.

Tom Taylor, Colin Slade, Dan Carter and Willi Heinz have all announced that they will be heading offshore after this season and Richie McCaw has also indicated that it could be his final season, which means it could be the last chance for Christchurch fans to see them in action for the Crusaders.

Friday night marks the team’s final game in Christchurch this season, unless they qualify for the Finals Series and earn the right to host.

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Flip van der Merwe

Flip van der Merwe

It has emerged that a contractual dispute with the South African Rugby Union (SARU) is the reason behind Vodacom Bulls lock Flip van der Merwe making himself unavailable for Springbok selection.

Bok coach Heyneke Meyer earlier this week said Van der Merwe was “unavailable for international rugby at the moment”.

The reasons behind Van der Merwe’s unavailability were described as “personal”.

However, Van der Merwe and SARU are at loggerheads because the player feels he was done an injustice when Springbok contacts were awarded.

Unlike lock partners Eben Etzebeth, Victor Matfield and Pieter-Steph du Toit, Van der Merwe apparently did not receive a similar national contract.

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Jacques Potgieter

Jacques Potgieter

Joe Pietersen

Joe Pietersen

The Cell C Sharks, often in the news in recent times for the wrong reasons as well as for their dismal Super Rugby form in 2015, have confirmed the signing of Jacques Potgieter, from the Waratahs for the 2016 season onwards.

In addition local media report that the Toyota Cheetahs pivot, Joe Pietersen will also move to the Cell C Sharks and will start playing there in the 2015 ABSA Currie Cup campaign already.

 

Jacques Potgieter:

The Cell C Sharks Media release reads as follows:

We are pleased to announce the signing of Waratahs loose-forward Jacques Potgieter on a two-year contract with the Cell C Sharks.

Potgieter is no stranger to the Cell C Sharks, having played his junior rugby in Durban. Over the last few years he has made steady progress up the ranks with his sheer physical presence and explosiveness, which resulted in a Springbok call-up in 2012. In 2014, he was instrumental in the Waratahs victorious Super Rugby campaign.

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George Moala

George Moala

Blues back George Moala has been discharged without conviction for an assault committed in 2012.

Moala was found guilty on 1 charge of assault in January and released on bail. At his sentencing the court discharged the Blues player, effectively closing the matter.

In a statement, the Blues and New Zealand rugby were happy to accept the outcome of the court, however there remains an employment process to be conducted.

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Brett Gosper

Brett Gosper

World Rugby chief executive Brett Gosper has revealed that they could review the 3-year residency rule for eligbility as there has been an increasing number of foreign-born players being selected for national teams.

Currently, players can compete for a country other than the one they were born in through a family connection stretching back to a grandparent, or via a 3-year residency period.

The issue was brought into sharp focus at this year’s Six Nations where a host of players represented adopted countries, having been lured overseas by hefty club salaries.

In an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald, Gosper indicated the international game’s governing body was prepared to review the 3-year rule for Test eligibility.

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Heyneke Meyer

Heyneke Meyer

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer is clear – the best 31 players need to go to this year’s Rugby World Cup.

Meyer began his 1st Springbok training camp with a bit of a stutter as no less than 19 of the 44 players invited to the camp couldn’t train with the Bok management. Add to that the Sharks who are overseas on tour, and there wasn’t too much training that could get done.

But despite that, the Bok coach used the time to reveal his World Cup plans to players, tell individuals what he expected of them and will use the remainder of the time to share calls, plays and get down to technical nuances for the players to take home as “homework” before they meet again in the 2nd camp in a few weeks’ time.

The final squad is only set to be selected at the end of August, when the chosen 31 will be revealed to the country for the showpiece tournament in England. But 1 thing is clear, while competition will be tough between players, only the best 31 in Meyer’s mind will be selected, meaning a number of top players may well miss out.

However Meyer has admitted that he hasn’t made up his mind yet, giving players the chance in the remainder of the Vodacom Super Rugby competition as well as the camps, to make an indelible impression on him.

And with that in mind, he may have an idea of the starting line-up, but Meyer believes beyond the starting 15, the other 16 places are still up for grabs.

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BullsHopefully recharging their batteries productively in a BYE Round ahead of it, the Vodacom Bulls are steeling themselves for their most definitive overseas tour of the Super Rugby conference era.

If they are going to be contending strongly for the playoffs this year, it always looked like being the phase that would make or break their challenge, given how unusually late in ordinary season it has been scheduled for them in 2015.

When the Bulls return from the 4-game itinerary abroad, there is only 1 further match before the finals series – at home to the Toyota Cheetahs.

Generally speaking, the ideal situation for South African sides is to tour roughly in the middle of the campaign: if you go too early, your season can be blown out of the water damagingly early.

And if you go notably late, it is a seriously tough time to try to get onto a consistently winning roll when you need that trend most – but that is the very challenge facing Frans Ludeke’s charges this time as the Blues, Chiefs, Brumbies and Melbourne Rebels lie in wait for them in that order.

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Beauden Barrett

Beauden Barrett

The Hurricanes have confirmed Beauden Barrett will sit out the next month of Super Rugby.

Barrett’s scans revealed a grade 2 tear of his medial collateral ligament (MCL) which he suffered during the Hurricanes’ match against the Crusaders on Saturday 2 May.

“Obviously I’m gutted with the injury, but fortunately it’s not season-ending for me,” said Barrett.

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Sean McMahon

Sean McMahon

Melbourne Rebels and Wallaby loose forward Sean McMahon has been cleared of any serious damage to his hip, after limping off against the Chiefs in considerable pain last Saturday.

McMahon, who was replaced in the opening half of the Rebels’ 16 / 15 victory over the Chiefs at AAMI Park, will still need to pass a number of different tests to prove his availability ahead of the visit of the Blues this Friday.

Rebels’ head of athletic performance Bryce Cavanagh said McMahon’s injury was a painful blow to his hip, making movement difficult and uncomfortable for the 2nd year player.

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RG Snyman

RG Snyman

Blue Bulls lock RG Snyman was withdrawn from the Junior Springbok touring squad to Argentina due to an ankle ligament injury.

The big lock hurt his ankle during a training session in Stellenbosch and will be out of action for 2 to 4 weeks.

Loose forward Rikus Bothma, the former SA Schools captain and skipper of last year’s Western Province Under 19 team, has been named as his replacement.

Snyman will continue with his rehabilitation until Friday and will return to the camp when the squad reassembles after the tour. He will undergo a fitness test on his return.

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SpringboksThis week, there is a lot of news, from various fronts, on the Springboks.

The Rugby Championship game times have been announced, as has the host city for the additional Springbok game against the Pumas in Buenos Aires.

News from this week’s Springbok Training camp is dominated by the amount of injured players at the camp as well as the news today that Flip van der Merwe has made himself unavailable to the Springboks in 2015 and also for the Rugby World Cup. The reports on the injury and rehabilitation of Springbok captain also comes under discussion, with the prognosis and likelyhood of him making the world premier Rugby World Cup competition very positive.

SARU also announced today that Rhino was appointed as equipment supplier of the Springboks.

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Schalk van der MerweThe Emirates Lions could well have lost 1 of their brightest stars as former Springbok coach Jake White snapped up prop Schalk van der Merwe to join him at Montpellier.

Van der Merwe – who is affectionately known as “hond” to his peers and is known for his strong scrumming abilities, has according to French sources signed a 2 year deal with the club and will join them after the end of the season.

It has emerged that Montpellier actually announced the deal 2 months ago, but ironically named Marcel van der Merwe as the player they signed, something the Springbok namesake vehemently denied at the time.

It seemed that somehow the French club announced the wrong prop, but considering both played for the Toyota Cheetahs, it is understandable.

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Alex Cuthbert

Alex Cuthbert

Adam Jones

Adam Jones

Welsh internationals Adam Jones and Alex Cuthbert will represent the Barbarians against England and Ireland this month.

Former Wallabies coach Robbie Deans invited the duo – neither of whom have played for the Barbarians before – to join his squad for the games at Thomond Park on 28 May and Twickenham on 31 May.

Deans’ squad already includes former New Zealand winger Joe Rokocoko, Australia back Berrick Barnes and triple European Champions Toulon’s leading try scorer David Smith.

Jones, who has retired from international rugby and moves from Cardiff Blues to Harlequins this summer, was thrilled by the opportunity to don the Barbarians’ iconic black and white jersey for the 1st time.

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Zac Guildford

Zac Guildford

All Black wing Zac Guildford has ended his contract with Clermont a year early to return home for personal reasons as soon as possible.

The wing has faced personal problems before under the All Blacks and Crusaders.

Guildford is looking to be closer to his family and could depart as early as this weekend.

“Faced with personal problems, Zac could not stand the distance between here and New Zealand and he expressed his wish to join relatives,” a statement read.

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Piet van Zyl

Piet van Zyl

Vodacom Bulls scrumhalf Piet van Zyl has been ruled out of rugby for the remainder of the season after he sustained a knee injury in last weekend’s win over the Emirates Lions at Loftus Versfeld.

Van Zyl ruptured his ACL in his left knee, Vodacom Bulls team doctor Org Strauss confirmed on Monday.

Dean Greyling, who was injured in a vehicle accident last week, picked up a hematoma on his right leg and will be back on the training field on 18 May.

Midfielder Burger Odendaal is also not training this week due to an ankle injury picked up in the match, but will be ready to play on 11 May.

Next Monday is also the date being pencilled in for Rudy Paige to return to the field, following his knee rehab.

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Cobus Reinach

Cobus Reinach

The Cell C Sharks’ task of rescuing their Vodacom Super Rugby tour of Australasia from disaster became more difficult on Monday when it was confirmed that Jaco Reinach had flown home after sustaining an arm fracture against the Highlanders last Friday.

Reinach was replaced at halftime in that game in what was explained to the television commentators as a tactical substitution. However, it has been subsequently learned that Reinach broke his arm and is on his way back to South Africa.

The Sharks took 3 scrumhalves on tour, so Director Of Rugby, Gary Gold, is likely to continue with Conrad Hoffmann, who finished the Highlanders game as Reinach’s replacement, with Stefan Ungerer coming into the match day squad to provide cover off the bench.

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Ruan Botha

Ruan Botha

The DHL Stormers’ injury woes continue as lock Ruan Botha is the next casualty on the list of sidelined players.

Botha has been ruled out of this weekend’s Super Rugby meeting with the Brumbies at Newlands, whilst centre and vice-captain Juan de Jongh is an injury doubt.

Botha suffered an ankle ligament injury against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein last Saturday, as the Stormers went down 17 / 25.

Botha is in a moon boot and could be ruled out from 3 to 6 weeks. The team doctor is still to make a call on the length of his lay-off, but he has been ruled out for this week.

De Jongh is suffering from a hip pointer injury which saw him leave the field in the 23rd minute, and it is usually a 10-day injury.

Utility back Jaco Taute is available but the initial plan is for him to play 40 minutes for Western Province in the Vodacom Cup.

“Giving him (Taute) 40 minutes in the Vodacom Cup is the initial plan, but with our injuries at present we could slot him into the team against a quality Brumbies outfit,” said Stormers coach Allister Coetzee.

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Xander Janse van Rensburg

Xander Janse van Rensburg

Reports of a mass exodus from the Vodacom Bulls at the end of the season have been rubbished by the franchise.

According to weekend reports a host of Bulls – which include Pierre Spies, Francois Hougaard, Deon Stegmann, Akona Ndungane and JJ Engelbrecht – will head to Japan after the conclusion of the Super Rugby season.

It was billed as the “biggest exodus” since 2013 – when the Bulls lost 20-odd frontline players, including the likes of Juandré Kruger, Wynand Olivier, Morné Steyn, Jano Vermaak, Zane Kirchner, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Dewald Potgieter and Jacques­ Potgieter.

However, Xander Janse van Rensburg, the High Performance Manager at the Blue Bulls Company, said that the facts of the reports are far removed from the truth.

“JJ and Grant have Japan clauses in their contracts,” Janse van Rensburg said, adding that the duo will head to Japan after the Super Rugby season, missing the Currie Cup competition, and will then return for Super Rugby 2016.

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Nic White

Nic White

Brumbies scrumhalf Nic White has arrived in Cape Town ahead of Saturday’s clash against the DHL Stormers at Newlands.

The Brumbies flew into South Africa on Monday ready for a big week in the Cape, the Stormers preparing to right the wrongs of last week after falling to the Toyota Cheetahs.

White returns for the Stormers match this weekend after 3 weeks out, his ankle injury now firmly beaten.

He said the Stormers presented the Brumbies with a significant challenge.

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Quade Cooper

Quade Cooper

The Reds believe the Australian Rugby Union’s revised contracting system could convince star playmaker Quade Cooper to remain in Brisbane.

Cooper’s future remains a hot topic of conversation, following the announcement by Toulon than the 53-Test veteran had signed a 2-year contract with the French club.

Cooper, the Reds and the ARU vehemently denied his departure is a done deal – accusing the Top 14 club of jumping the gun.

It is now reported that Cooper has been offered a 4-year flexible contract by the ARU, which will allow him to play in Japan during the off-season and return for Super Rugby to remain eligible for the Wallabies.

Reds coach Richard Graham, addressing a media scrum in Brisbane on Monday, said they remain optimistic that Cooper will not take up the Toulon offer.

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Nehe Milner-Skudder

Nehe Milner-Skudder

Matt Proctor

Matt Proctor

The top-of-the-table Hurricanes have announced the re-signing of Nehe Milner-Skudder and Matt Proctor until at least the end of 2017.

Both Milner-Skudder, 24, and Proctor, 22, have proven themselves to be elusive members of the Hurricanes’ backline, and coach Chris Boyd said they would both be key figures in the team’s future.

“They’re both local products of the Hurricanes franchise, and it’s no secret that both of these guys are exciting talents.

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Tatafu Polota-Nau

Tatafu Polota-Nau

Waratahs and Wallabies hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau could take a long leave of absence from rugby or even the quit the game entirely if he suffers another heavy head knock.

Polota-Nau, who has been working with Australian neurologists on the effects of concussion, was forced from the ground with a head injury early in the Waratahs’ Super Rugby win over the Brumbies in Canberra on Friday.

The 29-year-old was also forced to miss a couple of games in the southern hemisphere’s provincial championship earlier in the season after suffering another blow to the head at training.

4 Months out from the World Cup, Polota-Nau, who has amassed 50 caps for Australia despite battling a litany of injuries throughout his career, said he was taking a cautious approach to his playing future.

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