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Player Movements

Anton Bresler

The Sharks travelled to New Zealand without Anton Bresler, who suffered broken ribs against the Highlanders

Jake White believes the Sharks can win in Christchurch for the second time this season.

The Sharks beat the Highlanders 31-27 at Kings Park on Saturday to set up a semi-final showdown with the Crusaders. While the long plane trip will count against White’s side, he believes they can win in Christchurch on Saturday, having done so earlier in the season when they played most of the match with 14 men.

“It’s an 80-minute run and if we play well we can win, and I have to believe that,” said White.

“The Highlanders flew in from the other side of the world and came within four points of beating us. They came sixth on the log and we came third.”

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Henry Speight

Henry Speight, who was deemed “not good enough” for the Chiefs, is proving all wrong

Brumbies excitement machine Henry Speight didn’t just leave the Chiefs lamenting a qualifying finals loss.

He left their coach Dave Rennie ruing the one “that got away” after his side’s dream of a Super Rugby three-peat came to a crashing end at Canberra Stadium.

And the Chiefs only have themselves to blame.

That’s because Speight not only played for Hamilton Boys High School, but went on to represent the Waikato provincial team – the Chiefs’ feeder club.

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imageMichael Cheika has shrugged off suggestions that Waratahs stars Israel Folau and Kurtley Beale are vulnerable to offers to defect to the NRL (Rugby League) as the Waratahs build towards what looks to be a sold-out Semi-Final in Sydney next weekend.

After a week in which the minor premiers’ biggest names were linked to moves to Rugby League, the Waratahs confirmed late on Thursday that more than half of the 43,500 seats at Allianz Stadium had been sold just a day after tickets went on general sale.

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Jacques Potgieter

Jacques Potgieter – enjoying the Sydney experience

I’m sure that everybody who has been following the Waratahs and their progress to ending first on the 2014 Super Rugby log will agree that Jacques Potgieter has played an integral part in their rise.

He has been playing with the same robust “kamikaze” style that first got Heyneke Meyer to lure him to the Bulls, and that gave him his three Springbok caps, but he has refined his game at the same time.

As good as he has been to the Waratahs, the Waratahs have been equally good to him. He has evolved as a rugby player and instead of the Bulls forward blueprint of head down and charge, he has been delivering some deft offloads and touches. He is a much more rounded player, and the frightening part is, all within the space of one season.

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BlitzbokkeSASCOC have confirmed enforced late changes to the rugby sevens squad to compete at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland.

Cheslin Kolbe, the Western Province and Stormers speedster, has been withdrawn by Western Province due to a knee injury.

Warrick Gelant was due to replace Kolbe but was injured at the weekend and will undergo surgery this week. This sees Mark Richards, a member of the gold-medalling SA sevens team at the World Games in Colombia last year, coming in as a late replacement.

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Flip van der Merwe

Flip van der Merwe

Springbok and Bulls lock Flip van der Merwe is only expected back on the field next year, but he’s already determined to make a positive return going into the next Rugby World Cup.

Van der Merwe suffered a serious knee injury during the second Springbok Test against Wales in June. He’s set to be sidelined for six months, which means he’ll only make his comeback during next year’s Super Rugby tournament.

The 29-year-old will miss the Springboks’ Rugby Championship campaign and end-of-year European tour, as well as the Blue Bulls’ Currie Cup campiagn.

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Jessie Mogg

Jessie Mogg has regained his starting role for the Brumbies after being dropped earlier this season

Brumbies fullback Jesse Mogg is using his Super Rugby axing to reignite his passion, admitting he took his position in the team for granted after being the first-choice No.15 for more than two years.

Mogg was benched for the Brumbies’ clash against the Melbourne Rebels in June, with coach Stephen Larkham opting to promote Wallabies warrior Pat McCabe to the starting XV.

But Mogg has regained his fullback jersey after McCabe was injured while on Wallabies duty, and the Wests speedster says being dropped was the wake-up call he needed to help the Brumbies’ charge to the championship.

“It was about me turning things around and working a little bit harder,” he said. “I’ve come back and played solid over the last two weeks, I’ll look to build on that into the finals series.”

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Israel Folau & his agent meets with Todd Greenberg

“Welcome to SPECTRE Mr. Bond, if you’ll just sign here and here”

Speculation is rife in Australian rugby as to whether Israel Folau might be returning to the NRL. Folau and his agent was spotted meeting with the Head of the NRL, Todd Greenberg. In what can almost be described as a plot to a spy thriller, photos were snapped and keyboards frantically clicked to rush the story into print.

At the same time, uncertainty remain about the future of Kurtley Beale, and whether he too might be heading to the NRL.

Do the Waratahs need all this speculation about two of their star players only one week shy of hosting a semi final in this year’s Super Rugby Tournament?

ARU boss Bill Pulver says he is “not dissatisfied” with the departures of several high-profile players this year.

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Ben Daley

Ben Daley

Ben Lucas

Ben Lucas

Reds prop Ben Daley and flyhalf Ben Lucas face lengthy rehabilitation periods after both suffered injuries in their team’s loss to the Waratahs.

Daley dislocated his shoulder in a scrum collapse in the late stages of the game, with scans yesterday revealing damage to his rotator cuff. He will have exploratory surgery next week to determine the full extent of the damage.

Lucas suffered an articular defect in his right knee joint during the opening stages of the match and had surgery today. He will be out of action for eight weeks.

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Gareth Anscombe

Chiefs playmaker Gareth Anscombe is rumoured to join Cardiff Blues

Chiefs playmaker Gareth Anscombe is poised to leave New Zealand to take up a contract in Wales with the Cardiff Blues.

Rumours that the 23-year-old would move to Wales, for whom he qualifies through his Cardiff-born mother, have been circulating since April.

The move now looks certain following reports that he had thanked colleagues and supporters at a Chiefs dinner in Hamilton ahead of his departure. Anscombe, who can play both fly-half and full-back, is expected to join the Pro12 side – where he will link up with former Hurricanes coach Mark Hammett – as soon as he has completed his commitments with the Chiefs, who play the Brumbies in Saturday’s Super Rugby play-off in Canberra.

The son of ex-Ulster boss Mark Anscombe, the player has already met with Wales’ Kiwi coach Warren Gatland and reports in the Welsh press suggest he could be fast-tracked into the national setup in time for the November Tests. Although he has signed with Auckland for the NPC, Anscombe is understood to have an out-clause allowing him to go to Wales.

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Johan Ackermann

Lion’s Super Rugby and Currie Cup coach, Johan Ackermann

The Lions will field a revamped backline when they start their Currie Cup campaign early next month.

The high-flying Lions, fresh from their best Super Rugby season ever, face the Blue Bulls at Ellis Park on August 9 in the first round of South Africa’s premier domestic competition.

However, they will lose a host of their backline stars from the Super Rugby squad.

Lions coach Johan Ackermann, speaking to rugby365 in the wake of a three-match winning streak at the end of the Super Rugby season, said his forward pack will stay virtually intact.

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Ma'a Nonu

All Black midfielder, Ma’a Nonu, has confirmed his move back to the Hurricanes for 2015

Incoming Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd first guided Ma’a Nonu as part of the Wellington B side more than 10 years ago and they will reunite that partnership at Super Rugby level next season.

Since being shown the door at the Hurricanes by then-coach Mark Hammett in 2011, Nonu has bounced around New Zealand franchises with two stops at the Blues and a season with the Highlanders but the second-five will return to the capital next year to be closer to his family.

Nonu said he was thankful to the Blues, who he played for this year, for the support they had shown him, but was also grateful to be coming back to the Hurricanes.

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Lions & Golden LionsThe Golden Lions Rugby Union has named their CONTRACTED SQUAD for 2015. They also boast 4 Ex-Springboks amongst the Management and Coaching staff.

Kevin de Klerk, Rudolf Staeuli, Ashwin Willemse and Johan Ackerman, all Ex-Springboks are all in important positions at the Golden Lions Rugby Union, from President down to Head Coach.

 

Contracted Players:

The Golden Lions Rugby Union (GLRU) has announced its new contracted player list for the 2015 season.

While financial constraints remain a challenge for the Lions, retaining talent remains their main priority. This is not unheard of as all South African unions have suffered financial constraints and must content with increasing pressure from the lucrative European and Japanese markets.

With the GLRU not yet covered by a title sponsor, the union has secured the input of several valuable partners to assist in the procurement process. Through building stronger relationships with stakeholders, the Lions put on a record-breaking Super Rugby showing, after the franchise’s return to top flight competition in 2014.

They finished the Super Rugby season in 12th spot, but surprised many pundits with their seven victories, capped by a 60-25 thrashing of the Cheetahs last weekend.

An established buy-in value system from coaching staff, players and management has seen the Lions secure the services of both top-class experienced and up-and-coming players.

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Schalk Burger

Schalk Burger

He didn’t get what he wanted from the last game of the Vodacom Super Rugby season, which was for his DHL Stormers team to buck the trend of failure in marquee matches, but typically that did not place a massive dent in Schalk Burger’s good humour afterwards.

“I’m not going to see you guys for a while. It would be nice to have you staying over with us in Japan sometime. Get an excuse to come and write about the South Africans playing in Japan and we will be happy to host you,” was the Stormers captain’s grinning parting statement as he left the Newlands boardroom following the post-match press conference after the defeat to the Sharks.

The amiable Burger that we saw after the game was a stark contrast to the angry and frustrated player we saw on the field during the game. The match was brutal at times, and Burger was at the heart of the tempestuous physical exchanges. It was also evident that he allowed the referee Jaco Peyper to get under his skin for what the Stormers may have seen as his inability to stop dubious Sharks tactics at the breakdown.

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Jimmy Cowan

Jimmy Cowan

Veteran All Black scrumhalf Jimmy Cowan will return to New Zealand after two seasons in the English Premiership.

The 32-year-old Cowan has signed to play for the Tasman Makos in the NPC.

The Tasman Rugby Union confirmed he has signed a one-year deal, after seeing out two injury-affected seasons at Premiership club Gloucester.

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Mark Hammett

Embattled Hurricane coach, Mark Hammett

As he prepares to leave the Hurricanes, coach Mark Hammett gave a parting shot by claiming that the Hurricanes were in a state of disarray when he took over the coaching reins ahead of the 2011 season.

Hammett, who is heading overseas to coach Welsh club Cardiff, is in the final stages of his four-year tenure with the Hurricanes after they were left in seventh place, one point outside of the playoffs, following the final round of Super Rugby.

Seventh was the best finish Hammett led the side to during his time in charge but his first season was a rescue mission as he moved on some senior players, including Andrew Hore and Ma’a Nonu as Hammett deemed they weren’t helpful for the team environment.

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Schalk Burger

Schalk Burger still has unfinished business with the Stormers and Boks

He didn’t get what he wanted from the last game of the Vodacom Super Rugby season, which was for his DHL Stormers team to buck the trend of failure in marquee matches, but typically that did not place a massive dent in Schalk Burger’s good humour afterwards.

“I’m not going to see you guys for a while. It would be nice to have you staying over with us in Japan sometime. Get an excuse to come and write about the South Africans playing in Japan and we will be happy to host you,” was the Stormers captain’s grinning parting statement as he left the Newlands boardroom following the post-match press conference after the defeat to the Sharks.

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Sonny Bill Williams

The mercurial Sonny Bill Williams is close to returning to Rugby Union

Dual international Sonny Bill Williams will be considered for the New Zealand’s end of year tour if he is fit and in top form.

That is the word from All Blacks coach Steve Hansen who said time was a factor less than a year out from the Rugby World Cup. Hansen feels Williams’ return to the All Blacks will depend on his condition when he returns from the Sydney Roosters’ NRL campaign and whether he manages to play some part for Counties Manukau in the ITM Cup.

Hansen admitted that he hoped Williams’ return to Test rugby is sooner rather than later.

“There is no doubt he’s an exceptional rugby player and if he’s available then we’d be foolish not to look at him, but we have to take into account he’s come off a big season,” Hansen told Fairfax Media.

“We have to take a whole lot of things into consideration before we make a decision. What’s right for Sonny? What’s right for the team?”

“Next year’s a bit different because we don’t have the June series and if we can’t use him going into the World Cup then if we can have that opportunity to spend time with him then that would be good.”

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Bakkies Botha

Springbok hard man, Bakkies Botha, showing his romantic side

Springbok and Toulon lock Bakkies Botha has spoken about life in France, the final 18 months of his career and what he has planned after rugby.

After his successful run with the Springboks in June against the World XV and Wales, the My Players website caught up with the 35-year-old during his off time in the South African bush.

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Joe Pietersen

Ex- Stormers & Biarritz utility back, Joe Pietersen

The Cheetahs have found a replacement for flyhalf Johan Goosen who will leave them to further his career in France.

According to reports, former Stormers back Joe Pietersen will play for the Cheetahs in next year’s Super Rugby competition.

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Gio Aplon in action for the DHL Stormers

Gio Aplon in action for the DHL Stormers

“A good big player is better than a good small player” is something we have heard before on the rugby landscape in South Africa. Unfortunately, these type of utterances has been heard coming from the National coach, Heyneke Meyer, as well.

Is rugby not supposed to be the one game that people of every shape and size can partake and excell in? Remember when we were young kids, standing around with bare feet all excited about our very first rugby practice? Dividing the players into positions seemed like such a simple task…the fat kids were props, the tall kids were locks, the fast kids were wings. There seemed to be a position suited to every size and shape.

Professional rugby as we know it now has put paid to that philosophy, 15 supreme athletes seem to be the target for coaches. Centers weigh in at the 100kg mark or more, which is bigger and heavier than some of legendary Bok forwards of previous eras. Just this week the Under 18 Academy week was played in Worcester. One of the stand out players for the victorious Western Province Academy team was prop Carlu Sadie who weighs in at 122kg. The fact is, he is not judged on his size or weight, but on his playing ability and it would seem like this youngster has a bright rugby future ahead of him. Obviously when it comes to the position of front row, size is a huge asset, but what about the other positions?

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Mitchell Carstens

Mitchell Carstens slips past two KwaZulu-Natal defenders

Rugby, or particularly junior rugby, is alive and well in the Western Cape. It is no surprise that they rule the roost in the under age groups, it’s a phenomena that we have come to expect and sometimes take for granted.

The challenge for the men in the board rooms of WP Rugby Union is how to hang onto all the talent. They are lambasted on an annual basis for those that they “let slip away” and credit for those they managed to secure is few and far between. Are we, as supporters, always fair in our criticism of our respective unions? How can anybody be 100% sure that a player will make the step up.

Tim Swiel is a good case in point, when news broke that he signed at the Sharks social network went into overdrive with unhappy Western Province supporters taking shots at Allister Coetzee, Rob Wagner and Thelo Wakefield. This was a kid who showed immense talent while playing for Bishops and then went on to help Western Province win the Under 21 Currie Cup.

Yet, hardly 6 months later he is being lambasted on rugby sites by Shark supporters who blame him for their loss against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein a week ago. Jake White, after losing Pat Lambie to injury in March, placed his faith in young Swiel, but that seems to also now be misplaced. Swiel has been dropped from the match 23 a week after he was the starting fly half.

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Willie Britz

Willie Britz

The Toyota Cheetahs continued to replenish their player cabinet as it has emerged that they are close to completing the signing of Lions ‘wildman’, Willie Britz for the coming season.

This comes after the Bloemfontein side confirmed the signings of three other Lions players – prop Bees Roux, flyhalf Willie du Plessis and utility back Coenie van Wyk for the coming season.

The Cheetahs have also signed Montpellier midfielder JP du Plessis and have an agreement for SA Under 20 winger Sergeal Peterson to represent them at Super Rugby level this year.

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sam Whitelock

Sam Whitelock

Crusaders head coach Todd Blackadder has made just one change to his team to face the Highlanders this Saturday night in a battle for the New Zealand Conference.

Sam Whitelock, who was a late withdrawal from last week’s team, has returned to the starting line-up, which means Jimmy Tupou is on the bench. The remainder of the line-up is the same as the one that defeated the Blues last weekend.

Eighteen weeks of competition culminates in this southern derby. It is the final round of pool play and will determine log placings and qualifiers for the Super Rugby Finals Series.

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