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Super RugbyIt is Round 9 of Super Rugby 2015 this weekend.

There is only 1 game on Friday 10 April but we have 5 games on Saturday 11 April.

The Melbourne Rebels, Chiefs & Hurricanes have BYE weekends.

There is 1 South African derby on the weekend, between the Emirates Lions and Cell C Sharks, with 2 SA sides currently on tour and the Vodacom Bulls also playing inside South Africa on the weekend.

Only 1 undefeated team still remains prior to the start of the weekend, the Hurricanes, and they celebrate their 2nd BYE weekend this weekend.

On Friday, the lone game is the one between the Blues and Brumbies in Auckland, at 09:35 SA Time (19:35 NZ Time, 17:35 AEST, 07:35 GMT).

On Saturday morning the Ccrusaders host the Highlanders in Christchurch at 09:35 SA Time (19:35 NZ Time, 07:35 GMT), whereafter the Waratahs will host the DHL Stormers in Sydney at 11:40 SA Time (19:40 AEST, 09:40 GMT).

Slightly later and a couple of hours in time zones to the West – in Perth at 13:45 SA Time, the Western Force host the Toyota Cheetahs.

Next up, at 17:05 SA Time (15:05 GMT), the Emirayes Lions host the Cell C Sharks in Johannesburg, before the last game of the Round where the Vodacom Bulls host the Reds in Pretoria at 19:10 SA Time (17:10 GMT, Sunday 03:10 AEST).

The Brumbies should beat the Blues, even in the Blues backyard of Auckland on Friday.

On Saturday one would suspect that the high-flying Crusaders will beat the Highlanders in Christchurch (after they so thoroughly dismantled the Sharks last weekend in Durban).

Waratahs or DHL Stormers? Well, I suppose the advantage should go to the home team… the Waratahs.

In Perth another difficult game to pick a winner for… will it be the bottom-dwelling Western Force or the also-bottom-dwelling Toyota Cheetahs to appear victorious? Your guess is as good as mine.

The Emirates Lions vs Sharks game is probably shaping up to be the game of the weekend and once again the question is asked who will be victorious… the flying Lions or the back-paddling “Gold-fish” (Cell C Sharks)… surely the Sharks have always or almost always had the Lions’ measure… and why should 2015 be so different?

In Pretoria all logic would suggest that the Bulls should beat the Rubble Reds.. and convincingly so, but the Bulls are still resting key players and often flatter to deceive in recent years!

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Jannie du Plessis

Jannie du Plessis

Tendai 'Beast' Mtawarira

Tendai ‘Beast’ Mtawarira

Cell C Sharks boss Gary Gold said if he had the choice he would not be resting veteran Springboks Jannie du Plessis and Tendai Mtawarira against a formidable Lions scrum this weekend.

Gold has made a number of changes to the team that will travel up to Johannesburg to take on South Africa’s form team this weekend.

Some of these changes are enforced due to injury, some because of suspension and others the result of a selection rethink.

However, Gold seems least pleased about the fact that he needs to rest his key front row Springboks in accordance with SARU’s player management initiative.

“If I had an opportunity to play Jannie and Beast this weekend, I would,” Gold said ahead of the trip up to Ellis Park.

“These are decisions that were made at a higher level, and as bizarre as they are, they were made, and as much as I can stick to them, I am going to try and stick to them.”

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Super RugbyWith only 2 points separating 4 of the South African franchises on the Vodacom Super Rugby log after 8 weeks of play, Round 9 of the competition will again be crucial for local teams, with the derby in Johannesburg between the Emirates Lions and Cell C Sharks set to attract huge interest from spectators.

The remaining 3 South African sides play Australian opponents on Saturday, with the DHL Stormers taking on the Waratahs in Sydney, the Toyota Cheetahs playing the Western Force in Perth and the Vodacom Bulls closing out a big weekend of rugby in their Pretoria clash against the Reds.

The DHL Stormers will be looking for a 1st tour win against the defending champion Waratahs, knowing that the home side has won 12 of their last 13 matches in Sydney, with a victory margin of 18 points per match.

The Toyota Cheetahs will still be chasing a 1st overseas win in 2015, when they close out their tour against the Western Force at the NIB Stadium in Perth. The Cheetahs have won at this venue in the past, but will have to defend like never before.

They average the most missed tackles in the competition, while the home side maintains the best tackling success rate (90%).

The Emirates Lions host the Cell C Sharks at Emirates Airline Park in the only South African derby of the weekend, which is expected to be a fiercely contested clash. The home team is well aware that a win could push them into 1st place in the South African conference, albeit that the Vodacom Bulls could again overhaul them later in the evening.

The Cell C Sharks will be desperate to put their recent misfortunes behind them and win away from home.

The Vodacom Bulls take on the Reds, who despite not having the greatest of seasons, have a good record against the Loftus Versfeld team, winning 10 of their 16 encounters. Continue reading

Vodacom CupThe intensity of the Vodacom Cup is expected to rise significantly this weekend as the pool stages reach the halfway stage and the reality sets in for the teams that only 4 Rounds remain for them to secure their places in the final stages.

The main match-up in the North Section will be in Nelspruit on Saturday where log-leaders the Xerox Golden Lions go up against the Steval Pumas in a table-topping clash, while in the South Section GWK Griquas will look to close in on DHL Western Province on the log table.

The unbeaten DHL Western Province will travel to Port Elizabeth to take on the EP Kings on Saturday, which could prove to be a tight encounter, but GWK Griquas, who have also won both of their matches, will be hoping to make the most of their clash against the Border Bulldogs, who have yet to secure a log point this season, in Kimberley.

In the other South Section clashes, the Boland Cavaliers host the SWD Eagles in Wellington on Friday and the Cell C Sharks XV go up against the Toyota Free State XV in Kokstad on Saturday in what could be a hard-fought battle.

In the North Section, the Down Touch Griffons host the Hino Valke in Welkom, and the FNB Welwitschias meet the Vodacom Blue Bulls in Windhoek on Friday, where the hosts will look to register their 1st victory.

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Marco Wentzel

Marco Wentzel

Cell C Sharks Director of Rugby Gary Gold has made a number of changes to his team to take on the Emirates Lions in Johannesburg this Saturday, welcoming back 2 players from injury to bolster his side.

Etienne Oosthuizen and Willem Alberts have both returned from injury lay-offs and the pair will start their return to rugby making an impact off the bench.

Odwa Ndungane has been named at fullback, replacing SP Marias who gets a rest after starting all 8 matches to date. This sees the return of S’bura Sithole on the wing, with Fred Zeilinga replacing the injured Pat Lambie at flyhalf in the final change to the backline.

Upfront, there is an overhaul with Lourens Adriaanse, Franco Marais and Dale Chadwick packing down in the front row, after Jannie du Plessis and Beast Mtawarira were rested, while Renaldo Bothma replaces Jean Deysel at blindside flank in the final change.

Marco Wentzel has been named Captain.

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Flip van der Merwe

Flip van der Merwe

Vodacom Bulls coach Frans Ludeke made 2 changes to his starting team that will take on the Reds in a Vodacom Super Rugby clash at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

Springbok hooker Adriaan Strauss is given a rest in compliance the Springbok rest agreement with the 5e franchises and Callie Visagie will start in the No 2 jersey. This will be Visagie’s 1st start of the season. His place on the bench will be taken by Jaco Visagie, who on 2 previous occasions this season did bench duty.

The other change from the side that came up short in Johannesburg against the Emirates Lions is at flank, where a fit-again Arno Botha will replace Hanro Liebenberg. Botha recovered from a hamstring strain, with Liebenberg replacing Roelof Smit on the bench.

Another new face on the bench is that of Flip van der Merwe, who replaces Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg. Van der Merwe missed the 1st half of the season due to a pectoral muscle tear, but is keen to add to his 72 caps in the competition.

“It is great to have Flip back,” Ludeke said.

“He does not only provide a physical presence and some real grunt up front, he is also an important leader in the squad and with Victor Matfield out for a couple of weeks, Flip’s return could not come at a better time. “

The coach also opted to give Handré Pollard and Jan Serfontein another week off, with the latter also rested due to theSARU arrangement.

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BlitzbokkeThe Springbok Sevens have returned to South Africa following their participation in the latest rounds of the HSBC Sevens World Series in Hong Kong and Tokyo.

The squad underwent their usual medical assessment at their training camp on Wednesday, and apart from Philip Snyman and Stephan Dippenaar who both returned home with injuries last week from the Far East, no further injuries were reported.

Snyman sustained a knee ligament injury on the 2nd day in Hong Kong and he was replaced by Carel du Preez, who made his Springbok Sevens debut in Tokyo. The estimated recovery period for Snyman is 4 to 6 weeks.

His team-mate Stephan Dippenaar, meanwhile, picked up a mild hamstring injury on the last day of the Hong Kong event and was replaced by Ruhan Nel. He is expected to be back in action in 2 to 4 weeks.

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Juan de Jongh

Juan de Jongh

Centre Juan de Jongh has recovered from an ankle injury and will lead the DHL Stormers in their 3rd Vodacom Super Rugby tour match of 2015 – against the Waratahs in Sydney on Saturday.

De Jongh was an 11th hour withdrawal from the team last weekend, but he is fit to take his place in the No 13 shirt this week and assume the leadership responsibilities in the absence of Duane Vermeulen, who is back in South Africa as part of the rest agreement with SA Rugby.

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Emirates LionsEmirates Lions head coach Johan Ackermann has announced his team to face the Cell C Sharks at Emirates Airline Park this Saturday.

In the forwards, Julian Redelinghuys will start at tighthead for this match. Jaco Kriel also returns to the starting line-up at flank.

Additionally, Ackermann has made 2 changes to his starting backline with Faf de Klerk starting at scrumhalf. Mark Richards is also set to make his Vodacom Super Rugby debut at left wing.

Lohan Jacobs will also celebrate his Vodacom Super Rugby debut should he come off the bench.

The main game will kick-off at 17:05 SA Time. Pirates Rugby Club and Union Rugby Club will play against each other in a curtain-raiser fixture at 13:30 SA Time.

Tickets are still available via Lionsrugby.computicket.com from just R 40.00

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Tim Swiel

Tim Swiel

Former Stormers and Sharks flyhalf, Tim Swiel has signed a full-time contract with Premiership club Harlequins after a highly successful 4 month loan deal in October 2014.

The 21-year-old English-qualified pivot returned to the Sharks academy in February 2015 but will rejoin the English club for the 2015 / 2016 season.

During his short, but memorable time at The Stoop, Somerset-born Swiel made 10 senior appearances across the Cup, Premiership and European Rugby Champions Cup – which included impressive performances in the back-to-back fixtures against Leinster and Big Game 7 at Twickenham Stadium in December.

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Willem Alberts

Willem Alberts

The Cell C Sharks have been boosted by the news that Springbok loose forward Willem Alberts has returned to training and will be available for selection this weekend.

Alberts missed the 1st few matches of the Super Rugby season with injury and returned to action in the game against the DHL Stormers on 7 March. He then suffered another injury setback in the game at Newlands which saw him spend more time on the sidelines.

However, according to the Sharks’ official website, Alberts has now recovered sufficiently and will be available to face the Emirates Lions in Johannesburg this weekend.

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Sarel Pretorius

Sarel Pretorius

The Toyota Cheetahs have named live-wire scrumhalf Sarel Pretorius in the starting 15 for their match against the Western Force in Perth on Saturday.

There are only 2 changes to the Cheetahs team, namely up front where BG Uys starts and Danie Mienie moving to the bench and at the back with Sarel Pretorius back in the starting line-up and Tian Meyer on the bench.

This will mark the 9th Super Rugby encounter between the 2 teams.

The Western Force is leading with 5 wins to the 3 wins of the Cheetahs.

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Heyneke Meyer

Heyneke Meyer

He has been keeping a low public profile during the 1st half of Super Rugby’s ordinary season … and it is probably just as well.

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer must be scratching his head worriedly already over how to construct his national side for the 1st assignment of the 2015 Test season, against Australia in Brisbane on 18 July as part of a condensed Rugby Championship.

Presently several Boks are either injured, suspended or undergoing rest periods (the sudden pulling of Duane Vermeulen from the Stormers’ overseas tour after only 1 match has tongues wagging despite official statements that it was “always planned”), whilst other staple characters have suffered form dips in line with the general struggles of their sides in the local conference and overall.

It is difficult to envisage any SA team actually winning Super Rugby at this point – not the ideal state of affairs in a World Cup year, even if it is not always proved to be relevant — just as it is hazardous to predict which franchise will eventually top the ho-hum domestic pile.

It is true that a few additional players like overseas-based Bryan Habana, Fourie du Preez and Francois Louw and a rehabilitating Pieter-Steph du Toit should brighten the Bok equation, fitness permitting, nearer the Test roster itself, and 1 or 2 outsiders like Stormers tighthead strongman Vincent Koch and some surprise-package Lions personnel have stuck up their hands.

Yet a look at the last Springbok line-up for a Test – the unpalatable 12 / 6 loss to Wales in Cardiff on 29 November9 last year – gives you an idea of Meyer’s quandary; things look considerably more unsettled than he would like.

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Victor Matfield

Victor Matfield

The Vodacom Bulls medical staff on Tuesday confirmed that lock Victor Matfield will undergo surgery on his injured knee (right) and will be out of action for 3 to 4 weeks.

According to Vodacom Bulls doctor Org Strauss, Matfield is going into surgery tomorrow (Wednesday) for an arthroscopy on the knee to fix up damaged cartilage.

Matfield could have played the season without undergoing the procedure, but the decision was made as a precautionary measure building towards the World Cup.

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WhistleSANZAR has announced the names of the Match Officials for Round 9 of the 2015 Super Rugby season.

The Chiefs, Hurricanes & Melbourne Rebels each have a BYE weekend this weekend.

There will only be 6 Super Rugby games on the weekend, 1 game on Friday and 5 games on Saturday.

Andrew Lees kicks of the weekend’s action when he blows the game between the Blues and Brumbies in Auckland on Friday. Due to Daylight Savings time changes, the game is at 09:35 SA Time (not 08:35 as in the first number of Rounds).

On Saturday morning at 09:35 SA Time it is the Crusaders vs Highlanders in Christchurch, where Glen Jackson will be in charge. Then it is the turn of the Waratahs vs DHL Stormers at 11:40 SA Time, where Mike Fraser will blow the whistle.

At 13:45 SA Time it will be the Western Force vs Toyota Cheetahs in Perth, where Rohan Hoffmann will be in charge of proceedings.

The South African based games for the weekend are the games between the Emirates Lions vs Cell C Sharks in Johannesburg at 17:05 SA Time, controlled by Stuart Berry, as well as the Vodacom Bulls vs Reds game in Pretoria at 19:10 SA Time, where Jaco Peyper will be in charge.

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Patrick Lambie

Patrick Lambie

Cell C Sharks and Springbok flyhalf Patrick Lambie has been ruled out for 6 weeks, following a neck injury sustained against the Crusaders in their humiliating defeat by the Crusaders in Durban during Round 8 of Super Rugby.

Lambie has suffered a neck vertebrae injury, which saw him leave the field and replaced by Fred Zeilinga during the game on the weekend.

The Sharks have now lost no less than 4 leaders, with regular skipper Bismark Du Plessis still suspended, as is Frans Steyn.

Jean Deysel has received a hefty 7 week suspension for his deliberate knee to the head of Crusaders flank Matt Todd, and now the crucial blow of Lambie.

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Jean Deysel receives his marching orders

Jean Deysel receives his marching orders

The SANZAR Duty Judicial Officer Nicholas Davidson QC has accepted a guilty plea from Jean Deysel of the Sharks for contravening Law 10.4 (a) Punching or striking, after he was sent off following a Super Rugby match at the weekend.

Deysel has been suspended from all forms of the game for 7 weeks up to and including Saturday 23 May 2015.

The incident occurred in the 42nd minute of the match between the Sharks and Crusaders played at Growthpoint Kings Park in Durban on 4 April 2015.

SANZAR Duty Judicial Officer Nicholas Davidson QC assessed the case.

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Victor Matfield

Victor Matfield

The Vodacom Bulls will get a number of Springboks back this week, but there is growing concern over the knee injury of veteran lock Victor Matfield.

Matfield will only know on Tuesday when he will play again.

He was originally listed as being ‘rested’ for the encounter with the Lions last week, but it has since emerged that the knee injury was the real problem.

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Arno Botha

Arno Botha

Flip van der Merwe

Flip van der Merwe

Springboks Flip van der Merwe and Arno Botha have returned to full training following a pectoral and hamstring injury respectively and will be considered for Saturday’s Vodacom Super Rugby match against the Reds at Loftus Versfeld.

They will join the likes of Jan Serfontein and Handré Pollard, who missed last weekend’s clash against the Emirates Lions, but Victor Matfield will only know on Tuesday when he will play again. The lock, who has a meniscal knee strain, will see knee specialist Dr Daan du Plessis on Tuesday to determine how long he will be out of action.

Jesse Kriel (ribs), Burger Odendaal (arm), JJ Engelbrecht (pectoral), Trevor Nyakane (shoulder) and Jacques du Plessis (muscle spasm) all picked up light niggles on the weekend and sat out training on Monday, team doctor Org Strauss said.

All of them will be back in action on Tuesday, as well as Basil Short, who recovered from concussion.

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Super RugbyThe Emirates Lions scored a dramatic late try at Emirates Airlines Park to beat the Vodacom Bulls on a weekend where the Johannesburg-based side was the only South African team to register a win in Round 8 of the Vodacom Super Rugby competition.

The losing bonus point secured by the Vodacom Bulls did push them to the top of the South African Conference standings though as they moved past the Cell C Sharks who lost heavily to the Crusaders in Durban.

Both sides have 19 log points, but things are tight in the conference, with the DHL Stormers who were edged out by the Hurricanes in Wellington and the Emirates Lions both on 17 points. The Toyota Cheetahs, who lost to the Brumbies in Canberra, props up the local conference with only 9 Log points.

There was plenty of drama in Durban on Saturday, where a plethora of cards almost made a mockery of the 15’s code. The Crusaders at one stage had 3 players in the bin with Yellow Cards, before Jean Deysel was shown a Red for using his knee on an opponent’s head.

This was the 2nd biggest defeat suffered by the Cell C Sharks in the competition, as this 42 point deficit is 1 less than the 43 points difference they suffered against the Crusaders in 2005, when the home side won 77 / 34 in Christchurch.

The Toyota Cheetahs found little comfort in Canberra, a venue they have never won at.

2 Early tries in the beginning of each half helped the Brumbies to beat the Cheetahs, who failed to cross their opponent’s tryline, with a lone Joe Pietersen penalty the only reward to the central franchise team.

On Friday the DHL Stormers found the home side too slick in the 1st half and could not overhaul the 25 / 3 deficit in the 2nd 40 minutes of play. The Cape side dropped to a 5th consecutive defeat to a New Zealand opponent, the 1st time they have lost 5 in a row in New Zealand since 1998.

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Gary Gold

Gary Gold

Cell C Sharks coach Gary Gold has taken full accountability after his team’s dismal 10 / 52 loss against the Crusaders in Durban at the weekend.

In a game that saw the Durban team booed off the field, and a 3rd Red Card in 3 matches handed out to one of their team leaders, Gold could do little else but ask for mercy.

At the conclusion of the match, amidst the jeers and spectators streaming from the park, newest captain Pat Lambie apologised directly to the fans at the stadium.

This set the tone for Gold, who echoed similar sentiments.

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Gary Gold

Gary Gold

Cell C Sharks coach Gary Gold has said there is no ill-discipline rot in Durban and that the multiple Red Cards this season have been isolated incidents.

The Sharks were punished by a determined Crusaders side 52 / 10 on Saturday, and if 2 tries against them in the 1st 5 minutes did not spell out the end for the home team, Jean Deysel’s Red Card most certainly did.

The Sharks have now seen 3 Red Cards in 3 games, starting with captain Bismarck du Plessis being sent off for lashing out against the Chiefs, and Frans Steyn joining him on the sidelines for a tip tackle in the same game.

This week, another one of the Sharks’ senior players in Jean Deysel, was handed a Red Card for a deliberate knee to a Crusaders player’s head.

Du Plessis was banned for 4 weeks, with Steyn out for 5 on appeal, after initially getting off scot free.

It remains to be seen what sanction Deysel will receive, but Gold maintains there is no trend developing.

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Jean Deysel receives his marching orders

Jean Deysel receives his marching orders

Cell C Sharks flank Jean Deysel has been cited after receiving a Red Card against the Crusaders on Saturday, as the Sharks prepare to again tussle with SANZAR.

Deysel is alleged to have contravened Law 10.4 (a) Punching or striking, in an incident that occurred in the 42nd minute of the match between the Sharks and Crusaders at Kings Park in Durban.

The Crusaders ran out comfortable 52 / 10 winners.

The case is to be considered in the first instance by SANZAR judicial officer Nicholas Davidson QC.

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HSBC Sevens World SeriesThe Tokyo leg of the HSBC Sevens World Series took place this weekend in Tokyo, Japan.

It was Round 7 of 9 Rounds in the season.

After finishing 3rd at the previous 3 HSBC Sevens World Series tournaments, South Africa was determined to add another Cup title to their collection so far this season at the Japanese tournament this weekend. It was not to be, as they lost in the Final against England by 14 / 21.

Fiji finished in 3rd place and the surprise of the tournament, Canada finished 4th.

The Springbok Sevens (129 points) are currently enjoying a slightly increased but slender lead of 4 points over Fiji at the top of World Series standings after 6 Rounds. After winning the Cup in Dubai and Port Elizabeth, they have could not progress beyond the semi-final stages in Wellington, Las Vegas and Hong Kong but progressed to the Final in Tokyo.

New Zealand have fallen back to 9 Log Points behind South Africa on the HSBC Sevens World Series standings.

The 19 points the team collected this weekend in Tokyo allowed them to stay in 1st place above Fiji and New Zealand. With 2 tournaments to go in the season the slender South African lead simply means they still have to go fullout in the remaining tournaments, to be the winners overall for the season.

The Top 4 teams at the end of the HSBC Sevens World Series season in May will qualify automatically for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.

The HSBC Sevens World Series standings table is detailed below.

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Duane Vermeulen

Duane Vermeulen

Influential DHL Stormers captain Duane Vermeulen will return to Cape Town for a further 2-week rest period.

The hard-working No 8 has been in outstanding form for the DHL Stormers in 2015, but he will head home from Sydney on Sunday as part of the agreed SA Rugby rest period, which affects the top Springboks in this, a Rugby World Cup season.

“It’s a big one for us… it was a big decision to make,” explained DHL Stormers coach Allister Coetzee.

“However, it is something we discussed and have been planning since the start of the season,” he added, “the intention was always for Duane to spend the 1st 2 weeks on tour and then to head home and be ready for the final part of our season.

“We will of course miss him against the Waratahs and the Force but when we get home his rest period will be over and we will have him back in tow for a crucial part of the season.”

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Dawie Theron

Dawie Theron

The SARU national selectors have named a squad of 37 players for the Junior Springbok training camp in preparation for the 2015 World Rugby Under 20 Championship to be played during June in Italy. The group will assemble in Stellenbosch on Easter Monday.

The revised training squad was confirmed after a 4-day trials camp last week in Stellenbosch.

The group includes several players who are currently busy with Vodacom Super Rugby, Vodacom Cup and Varsity Cup commitments.

These players, such as Thomas du Toit, Dan du Preez (both Cell C Sharks) and Hanro Liebenberg (Vodacom Blue Bulls) will join the training camp at a later stage.

Dawie Theron, the Junior Springbok coach, described last week’s trials camp as a very good exercise.

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BullsVodacom Bulls coach Frans Ludeke made 2 changes to his starting pack for Saturday’s Vodacom Super Rugby match against the Emirates Lions in Johannesburg and also had to replace pivot Handré Pollard, who did not recover in time from a knee contusion.

Jacques-Louis Potgieter will start at No 10 and is the only change to the backline that ran on against the Crusaders last week. Potgieter is returning to action following a hamstring strain that kept him out for 3 weeks.

Grant Hattingh (for Victor Matfield) and Dean Greyling (for Morné Mellett) will start in the pack.

Both played off the bench last weekend.

Hattingh’s spot on the bench will be taken by Roelof Smit and Greyling swops places with Mellett, who will play of the bench. Matfield is rested (as is Jan Serfontein).

Callie Visagie makes his return to the squad following a back injury.

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Cell C SharksSpringboks Marcell Coetzee, Cobus Reinach and Patrick Lambie will all start for the Sharks when they face the Crusaders in Durban on Saturday.

Lambie and Reinach are straight swaps for Frans Steyn and Conrad Hoffmann, with Lambie also taking over the captaincy.

Back-row forward Renaldo Bothma gets a deserved rest after starting all but one match so far this season.

He will take great comfort from his man of the match award against the Force last week and will provide ample firepower off the bench, with Coetzee taking his place after enjoying a week’s rest.

Kyle Cooper continues at hooker in the absence of the suspended Bismarck du Plessis.

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Jano Vermaak

Jano Vermaak

3-Times capped Springbok Jano Vermaak is returning home to South Africa with a World Cup dream.

The 30-year-old, who has been a shining star for the revitalised French giants Toulouse in the Top 14, spoke from the city in the southwest of France.

He was quite open about his goals, although there remains some uncertainty about which team he will use as – hopefully – as a springboard to a World Cup spot.

“I am coming back to South Africa with the goal of giving myself a chance of possibly getting into the World Cup squad,” the 30-year-old scrumhalf said.

“At this stage I do not yet know which team I will be playing for in South Africa,” Vermaak said, adding: “I have a few options, but we’ll make that call in the next month or so.”

He said he simply can’t wait to be back in SA and will arrive after the completion of the French Top 14 season in May, or June if Toulouse make the play-offs.

That will give him 3 or 4 weeks of Super Rugby to have a crack at a World Cup spot.

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Anzac DaySANZAR has amended the kick-off times of 2 matches in Round 11 of this year’s Super Rugby competition.

This was done to accommodate extended pre-game Anzac Centenary remembrance ceremonies.

The Brumbies vs Highlanders and Waratahs vs Melbourne Rebels clashes on 24 and 25 April respectively will now each kick off at 11:55 SA Time – 15 minutes later than the originally scheduled time.

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