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Michael Claassens

Michael Claassens

Head coach Gary Gold has made changes to the Cell C Sharks side to take on the Xerox Golden Lions this Saturday at Growthpoint Kings Park, as he looks to overcome one of the form sides this year.

Unbeaten, with maximum Log points and riding a wave of confidence and continuity, the Golden Lions make a strong argument as possible title contenders, something not lost on Gold who warns that his charges will have it tough this weekend.

Paul Jordaan and André Esterhuizen form a youthful but exciting new centre partnership for this week’s match, while S’bura Sithole is welcomed back into the fray, slotting in on the wing.

The hugely experienced Michael Claassens gets his 1st start of the campaign, as does Francois Kleinhans, who comes in for the injured Jean Deysel.

Up front, Dale Chadwick returns from injury, replacing Juan Schoeman in the final change with Lourens Adriaanse, Khaya Majola and Kyle Cooper not considered due to injury.

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Francois Steyn

Francois Steyn

Springbok utility back Frans Steyn is set to join Montpellier in the French Top 14 and reunite with his World Cup winning coach Jake White.

Steyn is one of many recruits from South Africa and Australia in a completely revamped Montpellier outfit under the guidance of coach White.

White, who had coaching roles at the Sharks and Brumbies as well as the South African national side, has confirmed 20 new signings for Montpellier – with a number of them from places where he used to ply his trade.

The 28-year-old Steyn is no foreigner to France having had a spell at Racing Metro from 2009 – 2012.

His versatility at flyhalf, centre and fullback should be particularly useful to Montpellier, given the many departures announced this off-season for the French club.

The French scene is notorious for big-money signings a look is taken into the major comings and goings in the Top 14 for the season ahead.

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Ryan Kankowski

Ryan Kankowski

Springbok loose forward Ryan Kankowski has been hit hard in the pocket, after he was ordered to pay R 322 500.00 to his former agent.

Kankowski was ordered to pay the amount to his previous management team, In Touch Sports, in an arbitration hearing that concluded on Wednesday.

The 29-year-old, capped 20 times for the Springboks, was also ordered to pay back interest on the amount from May 2010 until final settlement, plus legal fees.

The case was 1st heard in the High Court in Durban, but was later referred to arbitration by agreement between the parties.

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Steval PumasThe Steval Pumas have made 3 changes to the side that will face the EP Kings in their ABSA Currie Cup clash in Port Elizabeth on Friday.

Prop Corné Fourie will start his 1st match of the season for the Pumas, scrumming down at loosehead prop, with Khwezi Mona shifting to tighthead prop in place of De-Jay Terblanche.

Jason-Colin Fraser earns a starting berth at No 8 in place of Lambert Groenewald, while lock Rudi Matthee will feature in the run-on side for Giant Mtyanda, who shifts to the bench.

The Pumas will be looking to bounce back from their 44 / 27 defeat to the Xerox Golden Lions in Johannesburg last weekend.

In the corresponding fixture in 2013 the Pumas suffered a narrow defeat to the Eastern Cape side.

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Vleis Engelbrecht

Vleis Engelbrecht

Loose forward Jacques “Vleis” Engelbrecht has returned to the starting line-up for the Eastern Province Kings’ clash against the Steval Pumas on Friday.

Engelbrecht, who made a name for himself in the Southern Kings’ 2013 Super Rugby season with hard hits and bulldozing runs, replaces flank Stefan Willemse on the side of the scrum.

The 30-year-old has been a welcome return to the EP side (on loan) after he departed for the Bulls at the end of 2013.

Willemse has been included on the bench, but Janse van Rensburg said the flank had a slight niggle, which they believe will clear up for Friday’s game.

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Sergeal Petersen

Sergeal Petersen

Wing Sergeal Petersen is set to make his Toyota Free State Cheetahs Currie Cup debut for the showdown against ORC Griquas on Friday.

Petersen, who has now signed a full-time deal in Bloemfontein, has not featured yet for the Free State outfit in this years’ Currie Cup but will occupy the right wing position on Friday.

The 21-year-old has already made 5 Super Rugby appearnces for the Toyota Cheetahs and holds 3 Vodacom Cup caps for Free State, while he was on loan from the EP Kings.

Petersen’s inclusion sees Clayton Blommetjies move to fullback in place of the injured Adriaan Coertzen. Coertzen has been ruled out with an ankle injury.

The only other forced change to the starting line-up is Gerhard Olivier coming in at openside flank for the injured Boom Prinsloo (broken jaw).

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DHL WPVodacom Blue BullsHas the world gone mad? The Vodacom Blue Bulls will be playing an expansive game and DHL Western Province will kick for territory.

That is what is on the cards when South Africa’s biggest derby, the north-south Currie Cup showdown between the Blue Bulls and WP, take place at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

Province have made it clear they want to build ‘scoreboard pressure’, building up a healthy lead before looking for tries and bonus points.

One gets the feeling the WP brains trust believe the Blue Bulls can’t chase a game once they are behind.

Both WP coach John Dobson and new captain Nizaam Carr said they will not be lured into a helter-skelter contest and will back their structures to wear the Blue Bulls down.

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Eddie Jones

Eddie Jones

Japan coach Eddie Jones has dismissed speculation that he has penned a deal with the DHL Stormers but said he was in talks with the Cape side.

Jones, like any professional in the sporting world, is weighing up his options before his contract comes to an end in Japan.

The Australian has a contract with the ‘Brave Blossoms’ until the end of 2015 but he was thought keen to remain in Japan, which will host the 2019 World Cup, to coach the national side as well as the new Super Rugby expansion team.

However, reports from Cape Town on Monday said that the 55-year-old had already put pen-to-paper on a 2-year deal worth R 5 000 000.00 ($ 385 563.00) per year with the Stormers.

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BLK Logo

As the Kings franchise looks forward to a significant period in its history, EP Rugby chief executive Charl Crous has announced a 3-year clothing sponsorship deal with BLK South Africa, beginning in 2016.

The sponsorship will coincide with the Southern Kings’ return to Super Rugby in 2016 and both parties are excited about the journey which lies ahead for rugby in the Eastern Cape region.

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Harold Vorster

Harold Vorster

The Xerox Golden Lions medical group have released a report ahead of the team’s match against the Cell C Sharks in Durban this Saturday.

There is just 1 new injury to report, following last weekend’s win over the Steval Pumas.

Centre Harold Vorster has been ruled out for the remainder of the season after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during the match.

Head coach Johan Ackermann sees the injury as a big blow but believes Vorster will be able to make an impact upon his return to play during the 2016 season.

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Stefan Watermeyer

Stefan Watermeyer

The Steval Pumas face an injury crisis ahead of Friday’s Currie Cup Round 3 clash with the Eastern Province Kings in Port Elizabeth.

Pumas physio Luzahn Louw revealed that a number of players are doubtful for this weekend’s match – following their 27 / 44 loss to the Golden Lions this past weekend.

Influential Pumas captain Stefan Watermeyer suffered a thigh strain, but should be fit for Friday’s encounter.

His leadership skills helped them upset the Sharks in Round 1.

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Deon Stegmann

Deon Stegmann

Vodacom Blue Bulls flanker Deon Stegmann will miss the next 4 weeks of the ABSA Currie Cup after he fractured his cheekbone against ORC Griquas on Friday. The flanker left the field in the 52nd minute of the match.

William Small-Smith, who left the field after a blow to the head, will have a fitness test on Thursday to determine if he will be available for the clash against DHL Western Province on Saturday.

Francois Hougaard, who injured a thumb ligament, will also be given time till Thursday to prove his fitness, team doctor Org Strauss confirmed.

Lock Jacques du Plessis, who has a back spasm, will be back on the training field on Tuesday.

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Juan de Jongh

Juan de Jongh

DHL Western Province were dealt a cruel blow with the news that captain Juan de Jongh has been ruled out of action for 8 to 10 weeks.

De Jongh suffered a knee injury in the 49th minute of last Saturday’s 9 / 3 win over the Toyota Free State Cheetahs.

The Springbok centre – who captained WP to Currie Cup glory last season – suffered a Grade 2 Medial collateral ligament (MCL) tear, which could potentially see him only return in time for the Currie Cup play-offs in October.

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ABSA Currie CupThe Xerox Golden Lions, Vodacom Blue Bulls and the DHL Western Province all achieved successive wins in the 2nd Round of the ABSA Currie Cup played over the weekend.

In Durban, the Cell C Sharks opened their account with a win over the Eastern Province Kings, which means the EP Kings, Toyota Free State Cheetahs and the ORC Griquas are still searching for their 1st win after 2 Rounds of Premier Division matches.

At Emirates Airline Park in Johannesburg the Xerox Golden Lions survived a bruising battle against the Steval Pumas to win 44 / 27 (halftime 20 / 10) on Friday night. In another Friday evening clash Vodacom Blue Bulls flyhalf Tian Schoeman contributed 21 points to steer his team to a 36 / 12 victory over the ORC Griquas at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria. Griquas led 12 / 6 at halftime.

DHL Western Province beat the Toyota Free State Cheetahs 9 / 3 in driving rain on Saturday afternoon to hand new coach, John Dobson, his 1st ABSA Currie Cup win at DHL Newlands in Cape Town. In the late Saturday kick-off the Cell C Sharks fought off a determined challenge from the Eastern Province Kings to claim a 33 / 25 (half-time 18 / 10) victory at Growthpoint Kings Park.

The Blue Bulls and the Golden Lions have both collected the maximum 10 Log Points on offer from their 2 outings and the Gauteng rivals are closely followed by defending champions, Western Province, who have 9 Log Points.

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ArgentinaSouth AfricaLos Pumas (9) 12 / 26 (20) Springboks (Final Score)

The Argentinian Pumas and South African Springboks did battle in a Rugby World Cup warm-up match at

Vélez Sarsfield, Buenos Aires at 21:40 SA Time (16:40 ARG Time, 19:40 GMT).

This was the live match discussion Article.

The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1 & M-Net on TV in SA.

*******************

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Rossouw de Klerk

Rossouw de Klerk

A former Glasgow Warriors rugby player gave a 14-year-old schoolgirl his phone number after a row with his pregnant wife.

Peter Rossouw de Klerk approached the girl at Scotstoun Stadium in Glasgow, on 14 April, after a minor row with his pregnant wife. She has subsequently given birth.

At Glasgow Sheriff Court on Friday, South African de Klerk admitted committing a breach of the peace in relation to the incident.

He was originally charged with stalking the girl and denied this. The Crown accepted his guilty plea to the reduced charge. He left the club after the incident, citing “personal reasons” for his departure.

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Siyabonga "Scarra" Ntubeni

Siyabonga “Scarra” Ntubeni

Fringe hooker Scarra Ntubeni has been released by the Springbok coaching staff.

Ntubeni, who did not travel with the team to Argentina on Wednesday this week, will be returning to DHL Western Province.

He was 1 of the members of the broader Springbok squad that stayed behind in Durban, while the matchday squad headed to Buenos Aires for the final match ahead of the Rugby World Cup.

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Trevor Nyakane

Trevor Nyakane

Trevor Nyakane is firmly focused on making the most of a rare opportunity to start for the Springboks rather than the sideshows.

A tough week for the Springboks has been made even tougher by claims from COSATU that they had been approached by some black players who felt aggrieved that they were not getting sufficient opportunities under coach Heyneke Meyer.

However, Nyakane has dismissed the allegations and said that the key for him is to put the distractions aside so that he is able to put his best foot forward against Argentina in Buenos Aires this weekend in what is the last chance to impress before the Rugby World Cup.

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Hilton Lobberts

Hilton Lobberts

Springbok lock Hilton Lobberts makes a welcome return for the ORC Griquas to face the Vodacom Blue Bulls at Loftus on Friday.

The Blue Bulls are high on confidence after a convincing 57 / 19 win over the Toyota Free State Cheetahs last weekend.

Griquas have made a few changes to bolster the team for this week’s clash with the Blue Bulls. The most notable change is the return of Hilton Lobberts at blindside flank in place of Nardus van der Walt.

Stephan Kotze replaces Ewald van der Westhuizen at tighthead, while the latter takes his place on the bench.

Jonathan Adendorf has recovered from injury to replace Stephan Greeff in the 2nd row.

Jonathan Francke is another who returns from injury. He replaces Bok Sevens player Ruhan Nel at centre, with the later moving to right wing in place of Ederies Arendse.

Clinton Swart replaces Ngcobo Sandile on the bench.

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DHL WPDHL Western Province head coach John Dobson has named an unchanged starting line-up for Saturday’s ABSA Currie Cup clash against the Toyota Free State Cheetahs at DHL Newlands.

Dobson has rightly kept faith with the starting line-up that did duty against ORC Griquas last weekend, but lock Jan de Klerk and back Kobus van Wyk come onto the bench against the Cheetahs.

De Klerk replaces Chris van Zyl in a rotational switch, whilst Van Wyk comes in for Johnny Kotze, who took a bang to his head at training on Monday.

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Zane Kirchner

Zane Kirchner

Victor Matfield will captain the Springboks against Los Pumas on Saturday, with Zane Kirchner, Lwazi Mvovo, Pat Lambie, Willem Alberts, Marcel van der Merwe, Adriaan Strauss and Trevor Nyakane all getting their 1st starts of the season.

Jan Serfontein and Schalk Brits have also been included in the match-23 for the 1st time this season.

A total of 28 players will travel to South America on Wednesday to play the Pumas at the Vélez Sarsfield on Saturday evening (SA Time). The match-23 shows numerous changes from the side that lost to Argentina last weekend, many of them injury-enforced.

Kirchner takes over at fullback from the injured Willie le Roux, Jesse Kriel moves from wing to centre for Jean de Villiers, with Lwazi Mvovo getting his 3rd run of the season, in the No 14-jersey. Willem Alberts replaces the injured Marcell Coetzee in what will be his 1st Test in more than a year.

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Jean Deysel

Jean Deysel

Paul Jordaan

Paul Jordaan

The Cell C Sharks will welcome the return of centre Paul Jordaan to their matchday-22 for Saturday’s clash with the Eastern Province Kings.

Jordaan, who is on the bench for the Currie Cup Round 2 encounter, has been plagued by injuries since his arrival at the Sharks but has shown glimpses of brilliance when he has strung some games together.

Jean Deysel is also back in the starting line-up after being sidelined with injury – replacing Jean-Luc Du Preez who copped a blow against the Pumas last week.

Elsewhere in the forwards, Juan Schoeman, having impressed off the bench last week, is handed a starting berth for the injured Lourens Adriaanse.

Brother of Jean-Luc, Daniel du Preez, replaces Khaya Majola at flank who is also out injured.

In the backline, Sibusiso Sithole is suffering from injury and is replaced on the wing by the experienced Odwa Ndungane who is himself back from a training ground knock.

Andre Esterhuizen shifts from right wing to left wing while the midfield partnership of Wandile Mjekevu and Heimar Williams remains the same.

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Francois Hougaard

Francois Hougaard

Vodacom Blue Bulls halfback Francois Hougaard is fighting back the only way he knows how – with his game.

The tattooed utility back, whose inspired run at wing during the Vodacom Super Rugby season was the reason he lost his place in the Springbok side, bounced back with a vengeance in Bloemfontein last weekend to grab the man of the match award after an inspired performance at halfback.

It is true Hougaard could have left for Japan earlier like former skipper Pierre Spies, but he decided to stay, with one hope of winning the domestic trophy and another of making amends for his perceived wrongs during the Super Rugby season.

The debate has raged ever since he burst onto the scene, and showed he can be equally dangerous at wing or behind the scrum, but a period of instability, where his basic instincts let him down more often than not, served him badly during the last year and has all but ripped his World Cup dream away from him.

Hougaard is a fighter, that is true, and despite his detractors, knows all too well what he needs to do to catch the national selectors’ eyes again. Simply keep knocking on the door.

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Tony Ehrenreich

Tony Ehrenreich

AfriForum has accused Tony Ehrenreich, Secretary of Cosatu in the Western Cape, of being an opportunist, using South African rugby on the eve of the Rugby World Cup as political playball in an attempt to promote his own race-obsessed agenda.

Kallie Kriel, CEO of AfriForum, is of the view that Ehrenreich – if he is serious about the development of rugby’s player base among all communities – should rather find the fault in the failure of the governing alliance – of which he is part – in promoting sport in dysfunctional schools.

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Heyneke Meyer

Heyneke Meyer

The South African Rugby Union (SARU) has reportedly agreed to extend Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer’s contract.

Local media reports on Wednesday indicated that Meyer’s contract has already been extended by another 4 years until after the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.

When these reports surfaced, SARU responded with the following statement:

“It is SARU policy to only make announcements on the contractual arrangements of key employees when there is something to announce. The contractual position of the Springbok coach is unchanged,” said a SARU spokesperson.

Meyer was also reluctant to comment when probed on the matter after naming his team for this weekend’s Test against Los Pumas.

“I said I want to serve and make a difference. If you ask every single guy on the street they would say I make a difference but in a negative way. The only thing I worry about is not the next 4 years, it’s the next 4 minutes,” he said at a press conference in Durban on Wednesday.

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Free State CheetahsToyota Free State Cheetahs coach Franco Smith has named his team for their Currie Cup clash against DHL Western Province at Newlands on Saturday (15:00 SA Time kick-off).

Smith made 5 changes to his starting team from the one which lost 57 / 19 to the Vodacom Blue Bulls in Bloemfontein last weekend.

Fred Zeilinga, who was recently recruited from the Cell C Sharks, will start at flyhalf in place of Niel Marais, while AJ Coertzen replaces Coenie van Wyk at fullback.

Up front, Neil Jordaan will start at No 8, sending Gerhard Olivier to the bench.

Armandt Koster also replaces Willem Serfontein at lock, while Jacques du Toit comes in for Niel Raubenheimer at hooker.

Meanwhile, Elandre Hugget, Tertius Kruger and Sias Ebersohn are newcomers on the bench.

Ebersohn is back in Bloemfontein having spent the last few years at Australian franchise, the Western Force.

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Vodacom Blue BullsVodacom Blue Bulls coach Nollis Marais on Wednesday named the same run-on side that played in Bloemfontein last weekend for Friday’s Absa Currie Cup clash against ORC Griquas at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria.

Marais only made one change on the bench, where a fit-again Dayan van der Westhuizen will replace Nqoba Mxoli, who will return to the Under-21 side.

Even though the side will have the benefit of a solid performance against the Toyota Free State Cheetahs behind them, Marais will be keen to see more improvement in their first home match of the competition.

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Steval PumasSteval Pumas coach MJ Mentz has named an unchanged side to face the Xerox Golden Lions on Saturday in Round 2 of the Currie Cup at Emirates Airline Park.

Mentz has stuck with his troops that pulled off a 33 / 24 victory over the Cell C Sharks in Nelspruit last weekend.

In last year’s fixture between the 2 sides the Golden Lions defeated the Pumas 29 / 15 in Johannesburg.

Lock Rudi Mathee was a late withdrawal ahead of last week’s match against the Sharks after suffering a shoulder injury, which will keep him sidelined for 3 weeks.

Jaco Bouwer slots onto the bench as cover in the loose forward and lock area.

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EP KingsEastern Province Kings coach Brent Janse van Rensburg has kept the changes to a minimum as his team prepare for their second Currie Cup game against the Cell C Sharks in Durban on Saturday.

The EP Kings went down 51 / 14 to the Lions in Port Elizabeth on Saturday but Janse van Rensburg said on Tuesday he did not think it would be appropriate to make wholesale changes at this stage.

The only change in the team sees Siyanda Grey, who was on the bench last week, replacing Sylvian Mahuza. Janse van Rensburg has also included prop Lizo Gqoboka on the bench in going for a five-two split.

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Springboks

We desperately try to stay clear of political content here on Rugby-Talk.com, however this week, after the loss by the Springboks to Los Pumas in Durban, it appears that another mini-storm has been brewing regarding the inclusion or non-inclusion of non-white players (such an ugly term in a new and supposedly democratic South Africa) in the Springboks.

Firstly it was reported that 5 Black Springboks (yet another unfortunate term in the new South Africa) have apporached trade union Cosatu about being sidelined in Test matches for the Springboks.

Then of course Cosatu, as we have come to know their standard methodology, responded about the supposedly racist choices of SA Rugby, condemning it and shouting from the rooftops.

Then there was the logical retort from SARU… not that it cleared matters up at all.

The Minister of Sport & Recreation, Fikile Mbalula, also jumped on board this discussion and seemed to be “the voice of reason” in this rather unfortunate circumstance, saying that South Africans must be patient with the pace of transformation in rugby in South Africa. From my side a small thank you to the Minister – good on you!

These political shannanigans always build on the discourse in South African traditional politics and fuel the devide, in stead of bringing harmony to this nation with so many possibilities.

I guess what I am asking myself, through all of this, is which other logical first choice Black Springboks merited 1st choice selection above their not so black peers?

Do we want the best team out there or do we want transformation tokens in our Springbok side?

To me it’s simple… do the transformation thing, but for goodness sakes, allow the Springbok coach to select the best Springbok squad out there, based on merit and merit alone, whether that squad only consists of White Springboks or only of Black Springboks or of a smattering of one and the other… the rest is immaterial to me!

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Xerox Golden LionsXerox Golden Lions head coach Johan Ackermann has named his side to face the Steval Pumas this Friday at Emirates Airline Park.

Ackermann has made just 1 change to the match day side, which beat the EP Kings 51 / 14 last Saturday. The single change sees Sampie Mastriet bracketed with Anthony Volmink at left wing.

The match will get under way at 19:10 SA Time.

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