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Corné Fourie

Corné Fourie

Faf de Klerk

Faf de Klerk

The Golden Lions Rugby Union have announced the signing for the 2016 season of 2 of their Emirates Lions franchise partners, the Steval Pumas’ players, Faf de Klerk and Corné Fourie.

The Media Release reads as follows:

Lions Rugby (Pty) Ltd is pleased to announce the contracting of Pumas duo Faf de Klerk and Corné Fourie for the 2016 season.

Both De Klerk and Fourie, who have played Vodacom Super Rugby for the Emirates Lions through loan agreements over the past 2 seasons, will return to Johannesburg under permanent contracts in November 2015.

The pair has signed 1-year contracts with Lions Rugby and will thus be involved in both the 2016 Vodacom Super Rugby and ABSA Currie Cup campaigns.

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David McDuling

David McDuling

The Cell C Sharks have announced the signing of Reds lock, David McDuling, ahead of the ABSA Currie Cup season.

The Sharks press release reads as follows:

We are pleased to announce the signing of Reds lock, David McDuling, who will join the Cell C Sharks until the end of 2016.

Known for his never-give-up attitude and athleticism around the park, McDuling made his Super Rugby debut in 2014 against the Crusaders and has since amassed a total of 12 Super Rugby caps for the Reds. He also won the inaugural season of the National Rugby Championship with Brisbane City and had the most carries and run metres of any 2nd rower in the competition.

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Super RugbyIt is the Final of Super Rugby 2015 this weekend.

The long awaited game to determine the champions of 2015 is finally upon us!

Of course, the South African and Australian Franchises are already done and dusted and only 2 New Zealand sides remain in the race, the all season Log leading Hurricanes and the New Zealand Cinderella side, the Highlanders.

The Final takes place in Wellington, New Zealand at 09:35 SA Time (19:35 NZ Time, 17:35 AEST, 07:35 GMT), at Westpac Stadium.

The Hurricanes are firm favourites for the game, having had by far the best overall performance of all 15 Super Rugby franchises in Super Rugby 2015, and running away with the Combined Log. They certainly played entertaining rugby and a lot of it has to be attributed to their forwards finally stepping up to the plate to match their tremendous backline.

Their defensive structures were much improved and their dangerous backline fired.. if one did not know any better one would swear that every last player was on some serious performance enhancing drugs.

I’ve always said that the Hurricanes were always underperforming in relation to the team they have on paper, but in 2015 all the elements finally came together to make them a fabulous side.

Whatever happens in the final, they deserve plaudits for the season of 2015!

The Highlanders on the other side, turned a lot of seemingly no-name forwards into a monster pack and their backline players turned into a dangerous unit with All Blacks written all over every member.

The Highlanders have lost twice to the Hurricanes already in 2015 but last weekend in the semi-final against the Waratahs they showed that they have progressed upwards a number of rungs in the 2015 season and specifically in the last few weekends.

The Highlanders, having almost always been considered New zealand’s step-child Super Rugby side, have had a real Cinderella season and deserve to be in the final and one is almost unwillingly tempted to urge them on for all the honours in the Final.

As a totally neutral observer, all I can say is that I enjoyed the rugby these two teams dished up for us all in 2015… and may the best team win!

Let the Final roll on… no guts, no glory!

Enjoy it with me, folks.

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Super Rugby finalists' NAME PLATES, which one will be engraved?

Super Rugby finalists’ NAME PLATES, which one will be engraved?

 

After 124 games spread across 18 Rounds and a fortnight of finals, we stand at the cusp of crowning a 1st-time Super Rugby champion.

We run the rule over both teams – examine their strengths, potntial weaknesses and try to decipher where the game will be won.

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HurricanesChris Boyd has announced his side to battle the Highlanders for the Super Rugby title but is still sweating on Ardie Savea who is yet to prove his fitness.

Meanwhile, Saturday night’s finale will quietly take on an extra meaning for a few of the men in black and yellow.

For long-serving Hurricanes Conrad Smith, Ma’a Nonu and Jeremy Thrush, and fellow teammates Chris Smylie, Rey Lee-Lo and Ben Franks, it will be the last time they run onto Westpac Stadium as Hurricanes.

With 468 caps between them, the 6 players will leave a sizeable hole at the Hurricanes when they depart at the end of the season, but not before they do their best to help lift a Super Rugby trophy for their club.

Boyd has named a similar line-up to help those 6 guys do the job, with the only change coming at reserve hooker where Motu Matu’u returns from a knee injury.

Savea’s knee will continue to be monitored throughout the remainder of the week, with Callum Gibbins bracketed as cover should Savea not be deemed fit.

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HighlandersThe Highlanders will line up with an unchanged side for the Super Rugby Final against the Hurricanes in Wellington.

Head coach Jamie Joseph has chosen to stick with the same 15 that knocked off the defending champion Waratahs in Sydney a week ago.

On Saturday Elliot Dixon will make his 50th Super Rugby appearance for the Highlanders, while co-captains Ben Smith and Nasi Manu will once more lead the side.

The only change to the squad comes on the bench, where Marty Banks replaces Trent Renata, while Joseph has stuck with 6 forwards on the bench.

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Matthew Proudfoot

Matthew Proudfoot

DHL Stormers forwards coach Matt Proudfoot has opted not to renew his contract with Western Province Rugby, but he might not be lost to the union on a permanent basis.

Proudfoot will be linking up with outgoing DHL Stormers head coach Allister Coetzee at Kobe Steel Kobelco Steelers in Japan, but Director of Rugby Gert Smal remains hopeful of retaining his services on a consultancy basis, which would see him contribute to the ‘Tight Five Factory'; an innovative project which is aimed at identifying and developing tight 5 players from youth level and up within WP Rugby.

Proudfoot, 42, has served as forwards coach of both the DHL Stormers and DHL Western Province for the past 7 seasons, which has seen the Cape team’s pack become 1 of the most feared units at Super Rugby and Currie Cup level.

In that time, the likes of unheralded juniors Steven Kitshoff, Scarra Ntubeni, Frans Malherbe, Vincent Koch, Eben Etzebeth, Siya Kolisi and Nizaam Carr have progressed into the Springbok ranks (either as Test players or squad members), with the DHL Stormers’ scrummaging power a huge boon in their recently-completed 2015 Super Rugby campaign.

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Peter GrantEx-Springbok flyhalf Peter Grant is set to join the Western Force ahead of next year’s Super Rugby season.

Grant, who was released with a season to run on his contract at French club La Rochelle, looks a likely replacement for South African compatriot Sias Ebersohn, who has already been released.

According to The West Australian, Grant’s potential return to Super Rugby was opened due Wilhelm Steenkamp’s imminent signing for French club Brive for next season.

Steenkamp had limited game time last season and failed to impress the Force’s coaching staff at his time with the team.

The Force are allowed 3 overseas Test players and Grant would join former All Black scrumhalf Alby Mathewson and Tongan forward Steve Mafi.

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Willem Alberts

Willem Alberts

Stade Français have confirmed the signing of Springbok back row Willem Alberts who will join the club after the Rugby World Cup.

The Top 14 champions have not brought in many players this off-season, generally prioritising quality over quantity, as Alberts joins Will Genia in the French capital.

Alberts arrives from the Cell C Sharks on a 3-year deal and will join a back row which already features Sergio Parisse, Raphaël Lakafia and Antoine Burban, while promising youngster Sekou Macalou also arrived over the off-season from Massy.

The 31-year-old made his Springbok debut back in 2010 and has scored 7 tries in 32 tests.

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Armand "Akker" van der Merwe

Armand “Akker” van der Merwe

The Emirates Lions have lost another key player ahead of their Currie Cup campaign.

Hooker Armand “Akker”van der Merwe or “The Angry Warthog” as he is sometimes referred to, has signed a deal with Racing Metro, which will see him play in France for the remainder of the 2015 season.

Lions Rugby (Pty) Ltd revealed that they agreed to release 4 players to clubs abroad for the duration of the Currie Cup tournament.

As was previously reported Elton Jantjies (Shining Arcs), Lionel Mapoe (Spears) and Warwick Tecklenburg (Kamaishi) have all signed agreements in Japan until February 2016.

Along with Van der Merwe, all the players will return ahead of the 2016 Super Rugby tournament and will represent the Lions in next year’s competition. The players have all committed to Lions Rugby until the end of 2016.

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Warwick Tecklenburg

Warwick Tecklenburg

Bjorn Basson

Bjorn Basson

Renaldo Bothma

Renaldo Bothma

Lionel Mapoe

Lionel Mapoe

Lionel Mapoe, Renaldo Bothma, Bjorn Basson and Warwick Tecklenburg have added their names to growing list of Super Rugby players heading to The Land of the Rising Sun.

Emirates Lions centre, Mapoe will join Vodacom Bulls lock Grant Hattingh at the Spears while his Lions team mate, flank Warwick Tecklenburg heads to the Kamaishi Seawaves.

Cell C Sharks and Namibia International loose forward, Renaldo Bothma will join Verblitz after the World Cup while Vodacom Bulls and Ex-Springbok wing Bjorn Basson will join Lomano Lemeki and Digby Ioane at the Heat.

Another high profile player who will be heading East is Wallaby fullback Israel Folau who will link up with Springboks Handré Pollard and Eben Etzebeth at the Docomo Red Hurricanes. Folau just put pen to paper on a new flexible contract with the Australian Rugby Union.

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Vincent Koch

Vincent Koch

Tighthead prop Vincent Koch has confirmed that he will return to the DHL Stormers for next year’s Super Rugby competition.

Koch, 25, was loaned from the Pumas for this year’s Super Rugby competition and was one of the Cape franchise’s standout performers.

His performances also earned him a call-up to Heyneke Meyer’s Springbok squad named at the weekend.

There was confusion regarding Koch’s availability for the Stormers because his province – the Steval Pumas – form part of the Emirates Lions franchise and the men from Johannesburg could have requested the player to feature for them.

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Allister Coetzee

Allister Coetzee

Outgoing DHL Stormers coach Allister Coetzee has given the franchise advice on where they can look to strengthen their squad for next season.

The 52-year-old is set to leave for Japan as he embarks on a new phase in his coaching career with Japanese club, Kobe Kobelco Steelers.

The Stormers won this year’s South African conference in Super Rugby, but were knocked out in the qualifiers against the Brumbies at Newlands.

Coetzee said they need add a few new recruits in order to be successful in 2016.

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Israel Folau

Israel Folau

Waratahs Rugby and the Australian Rugby Union have confirmed the re-signing of fullback Israel Folau on a 3-year flexible contract which will keep him in Australian rugby until at least 2018.

The 26 year-old joined the Waratahs for the 2013 season, making an immediate impact to the side with his impressive speed and agility.

In just his 2nd year in the code, he was named 2014 Australian Super Rugby Player of the Year after an outstanding season in which he scored 12 tries in 14 matches and was an integral member of the title-winning team.

A key member of the team’s leadership group, Folau was named as vice-captain for the 1st time in 2015, and held the role for 5 matches.

2016 Waratahs head coach Daryl Gibson said he was pleased that Folau had committed to stay in Australian rugby.

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Jaco Peyper

Jaco Peyper

Jaco Peyper of South Africa has been appointed to referee the Final of Super Rugby 2015. He will thus be heading for Wellington, New Zealand for this great match.

When he heard of the appointment on Sunday, Peyper was understandably excited, as was André Watson, South Africa’s refereeing boss.

Peyper, a Bloemfontein lawyer, is no stranger to finals. On his way up the refereeing ladder, when he was doing mainly Under 19 matches, he refereed the provincial Under 19 Final. When he was further up the ladder, he refereed the Under 21 Final. Then higher still, he refereed the Vodacom Cup Final. Then in 2012 he refereed the Currie Cup Final and now the Super Rugby Final.

It is the 23rd Super Rugby Final since the 1st one in 1993. Of the 22 finals already refereed South African referees have refereed 14 – André Watson (5), Jonathan Kaplan (3), Craig Joubert (3) and Freek Burger, Tappe Henning and Mark Lawrence (1 each). Peyper will be the 6th South African referee to referee a Final.

Peyper is now on the way to being a vastly experienced referee – after 22 Tests, 60 Super Rugby matches and 55 Currie Cup matches.

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Chris Boyd

Chris Boyd

Hurricanes head coach Chris Boyd said he is taking nothing from his team’s 2 wins over the Highlanders this season ahead of their Final with same opponents on Saturday.

The Hurricanes won their Round 6 encounter 20 / 13 in Dunedin and then in dominant fashion thrashed the Highlanders side 56 / 20 in the return fixture in Round 17 in Napier. However, the latter win was against a considerably weaker Highlanders outfit than the one that they will be facing this Saturday.

“If you remember the last game in Napier they rested their 3 All Blacks (Aaron Smith, Ben Smith and Malakai Fekitoa),” Boyd said.

“Patrick Osborne and Nasi Manu also did not play. It was 5 key players for them – so we will take absolutely no energy from that performance at all.”

Conditions for Saturday’s Final is expected to be wet, which might nullify the attacking threats of both teams who are the competition’s leading try scorers. Boyd, on the other hand, feels that there will be running rugby regardless of the conditions.

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Kieran Keane

Kieran Keane

The Chiefs have confirmed their coaching staff for the next 2 seasons.

Current coaches Dave Rennie and Andrew Strawbridge will be joined by Tasman ITM Cup coach Kieran Keane and Canada’s national forwards coach Neil Barnes.

Chiefs CEO Andrew Flexman said, “We are well aware of the importance of having a world class coaching group to succeed in this competition.

“I have no doubt that our management team for the next few years are capable of continuing the Chiefs legacy of on-field success given the mix of coaching skill-sets and experience they possess.”

Chiefs head coach Dave Rennie is extremely happy with his new management team.

“I’m really looking forward to working with KK and Barnsey. They are bloody good men, experienced and innovative coaches who are prepared to challenge and work hard. They’ll fit in well here,” he said.

Current Chiefs assistant coach Andrew Strawbridge extended his contract for 2 years.

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Henry Speight

Henry Speight

A SANZAR Appeals Committee, chaired by Nigel Hampton QC (New Zealand) and comprising Lex Mpati (South Africa) and Terry Willis (Australia) unanimously dismissed an appeal brought by the Brumbies against the decision that found Henry Speight had contravened Law 10.4 (j) – Lifting Tackle.

The Committee dismissed the appeal on the basis that the appellant was unable to show that the Judicial Officer’s central factual findings, that the tackle involved both a lifting and driving, were in error.

The Committee also unanimously dismissed the appeal brought against the 5-week (4-match) suspension imposed on Speight, finding that the Judicial Officer had not erred in principle and that the sanction imposed was not manifestly excessive.

As such, the player remains suspended from all forms of the game for 5 weeks up to and including Saturday 25 July 2015.

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Late Brett Williams

Late Brett Williams

The lone remaining accused, Blayne Shepard, was found guilty of culpable homicide for the incident which took place after a Super Rugby match between the Sharks and the Melbourne Rebels, where Mr Brett Williams died after assault.

 

The Sharks Media Release Reads as follows:

The Sharks welcome the judgment delivered yesterday in the Brett Williams murder case, which tragically occurred on the outer-fields at Growthpoint Kings Park in 2013.

We thrive on creating a family environment at the stadium where all ages can enjoy a wonderful matchday experience in a safe and secure environment. We have a zero tolerance policy with regard to untoward behaviour at the stadium and we don’t condone this in the strictest terms.

In the last year, we have focussed extensively from moving away from a club culture within the stadium to a more family orientated focus with the implementation of an outer-field market, a supervised kids dugout area, the Mangwanani Spa offering on matchday as well as many other exciting initiatives, which is aimed at providing world-class entertainment for our patrons.

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Thomas Lavanini

Thomas Lavanini

Thomas Lavanini has committed to the new Argentinean Super Rugby team until at least the end of 2018.

The 22-year-old lock started his professional career at Hindú in the Argentinean capital before moving to Racing Metro at the beginning of this season.

He is capped 18 times for the Pumas and is currently in Sydney as the squad prepares for the forthcoming Rugby Championship.

“I am very happy with agreeing to terms,” he said.

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HurricanesThis week’s Super Rugby news is of course dominated by the only 2 sides left in the 2015 competition, who will meet in the Final on Saturday, namely the Highlanders and Hurricanes.

In this article we focus on various aspects in the final week for the Hurricanes. We look at how they will approach the final, Conrad Smith discusses his 12-year Hurricanes career and we look at the Hurricane sinjury situation ahead of Saturday’s final.

 

Game Approch – Keep attacking:

Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd says that his team will not change their attacking approach when they host their first Super Rugby Final.

The Wellington side will host the Highlanders on the weekend which means that Super Rugby will have a 1st-time titleholder, and for the 5th time it will be an all-New Zealand affair.

The table-topping Hurricanes sealed their home final with a 29 / 9 victory over the Brumbies, while the Highlanders travelled to Sydney and beat the defending champion Waratahs to secure their spot.

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HighlandersHighlanders co-captain Nasi Manu said that his side are happy to be written off ahead of the Super Rugby Final against the Hurricanes.

Despite having just 3 All Blacks in their side the Highlanders upset the defending champion Waratahs in their Sydney semi-final on Saturday, and Manu said they relish being underdogs.

“It just added fuel to the fire, coming over here and everyone writing us off,” Manu said. “No-one really expected anything from us. I guess we have always been the underdogs and I believe we thrive off that.”

The Highlanders will be up against the weight of history as well in Wellington, as since the conference system was implemented in 2011 no team that finished outside the Top-2 places on the competition ladder has won.

The Brumbies, Sharks and Crusaders have all made it all the way to the final, only to stumble at the final hurdle.

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Sias Ebersohn

Sias Ebersohn

The Western Force has released flyhalf Sias Ebersohn from his contract, allowing him to return to his native South Africa.

The 26-year-old, who joined the Force from the Bloemfontein-based Toyota Cheetahs ahead of the 2013 Super Rugby season, has played 43 matches – scoring 212 points – across his 3 seasons for the Western Australian club.

Ebersohn has made a strong contribution to the club over the past 3 seasons, including playing a key role during the club’s most successful season in 2014.

However, leading into the 2016 season, the club identified the need to inject additional experience into its young backline, which coincided with an opportunity for Ebersohn to return to South Africa.

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Schalk Ferreira

Schalk Ferreira

The Southern Kings continued their recruitment drive ahead of their re-entry into Super Rugby next year.

Veteran prop Schalk Ferreira, who played Super Rugby for the Kings in 2013, is the latest recruit for the Port Elizabeth-based franchise.

He will be returning to PE on a 2-year contract and will join them ahead of the Eastern Province Kings’ Currie Cup campaign that gets underway in August.

The 31-year-old Ferreira – who also played for the DHL Stormers before moving to PE – has been playing for Toulouse in France since 2013.

The have recently also confirmed the signing of centre JP du Plessis and prop Basil Short.

This also follows the announcement of a loan agreement with the Blue Bulls for the services of Jacques “Vleis” Engelbrecht to join the squad for the Currie Cup season, as well as the signing until 2016 of young prop Nicolaas van Dyk.

Du Plessis and Short are already taking part in a training.

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Lima Sopoaga

Lima Sopoaga

The Highlanders have received a boost with the news that flyhalf Lima Sopoaga, who suffered a knee injury at a training camp, is set to take his place in their Super Rugby semi-final against the Waratahs.

“He’s fine. He just twisted his knee, it’s a wee bit of a one off,” coach Jamie Joseph said in Sydney on Friday. “It was a wee bit of a scare for everybody, but he’s fine and he’s going to train today.”

The 24-year-old, who has also been named in an extended All Blacks squad, had initially feared he might have to sit out Saturday’s match against the defending champions.

“I think his body feels fine today and, as Jamie said, it was just a bit of a scare at the time,” added Highlanders co-captain Ben Smith.

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HurricanesThe Hurricanes have not stumbled upon a magic formula this season and their success is built on hard work put in over the last few years by a maturing playing group, according to their coach and captain.

The Hurricanes host Australia’s Brumbies in the Super Rugby semi-final at Wellington Regional Stadium on Saturday after finishing top of the standings.

It is the 1st semi-final the Wellington-based side have hosted since 2006, creating an expected sell out, and their 1st appearance in the playoffs since 2009.

“I don’t think there’s a silver bullet and there’s not one answer,” coach Chris Boyd said about their success.

“There are a whole lot of bits and pieces that has got the chemistry right.”

The progression of players such as new All Black Nehe Milner-Skudder from the wider training group and the experience gained through seasons of Super Rugby had also played a part, Boyd said.

Captain Conrad Smith, who will play his last game for the Hurricanes on Saturday if his side lose, felt the team’s success had been down to the work done over the last few years.

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Coenie Oosthuizen

Coenie Oosthuizen

The Sharks took delight in announcing the signing of Springbok loosehead prop, Coenie Oosthuizen, on a 4-year deal.

Oosthuizen made his Springbok debut in 2012 and has since amassed 21 caps in the green and gold jersey. He is a versatile prop that is able to play on both sides of the scrum and is a welcome addition to the Cell C Sharks family.

Commenting on his signing, The Sharks Director of Rugby, Gary Gold said: “I am pleased that Coenie has taken up our offer to play his rugby in Durban. He is an exceptional player who boasts surprising pace and is known for his strong runs and work rate around the park.

“His experience will prove invaluable to our team ambitions going forward.”

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Barend van Graan

CEO Barend van Graan

The Vodacom Bulls are totally mum as to who could possibly succeed Frans Ludeke as their new Super Rugby head coach.

Media speculation has been rife about possible candidates for the new post in Pretoria.

Junior Springbok coach Dawie Theron is being mentioned as a possible successor to Ludeke, who was stood down despite having another year left on his contract.

Despite the Theron rumours, the Bulls insist no decision has been made yet.

“The Blue Bulls Company (BBC) will not comment about rumours about possible coaches mentioned in the media,” CEO Barend van Graan said.

Springbok lock Victor Matfield has also been touted as a possible head coach, as well as current Springbok assistant coach Johann van Graan.

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Eben Etzebeth

Eben Etzebeth

Damian de Allende

Damian de Allende

The Japanese Yen’s pulling power continues to lure Springboks to Japan for brief off-season stints.

Springbok lock Eben Etzebeth is reported to have signed for the Red Hurricanes and is set to join Springbok teammate Handré Pollard for a stint in Japan.

As is the case with Pollard, Etzebeth’s contract with the Japanese club will only be for 3 months and commence after the World Cup.

That would see him return to play for the DHL Stormers in next year’s Super Rugby competition.

Etzebeth’s contract with Western Province expires at the end of the 2016 season.

The 2nd Springbok that will travel to Asia, is Super Rugby sensation Damien de Allende who has, according to japanrugby.net, signed with the Liners.

De Allende will depart for Japan after the World Cup and return in time for the Super Rugby season in 2016.

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Johan Goosen

Johan Goosen

Johan Goosen’s kicking coach has confirmed Western Province’s interest in the Springbok pivot and says the player is ‘considering’ all possible options.

Media reports earlier this month indicated that the Capetonians were interested in signing Goosen as a replacement for Demetri Catrakilis, who will join Montpellier in France after this year’s Currie Cup.

Bertus Pretorius, who is Goosen’s kicking coach in Bloemfontein, confirmed the interest in his player.

Goosen though still has 2 seasons left on his contract with Racing Metro in France and WP would have to fork out a lot of money to sign him.

“Any player will always consider possibilities (to move) and it’s not necessarily only WP. But Goose has a 3-year contract with Racing (should WP fail in their quest to lure him) and he’ll honour it, like he did with the Cheetahs,” Pretorius said.

Goosen though appears not to be a happy camper in France, with Racing coach Laurent Labit recently accusing the Springbok pivot of not attending French classes as well as not taking things serious enough at practice.

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Chris Malone

Chris Malone

Former Bath, Harlequins and London Irish flyhalf Chris Malone will join the Waratahs next season as attack and kicking coach.

The Waratahs confirmed the appointment of Malone as assistant coach to Daryl Gibson on a 3-year contract, to commence with the 2016 season.

Malone, who will be a specialist attack and kicking coach, was recruited from the Sydney University club where he has been coach of the 1st grade Shute Shield side since 2013.

Gibson, who will move from assistant to head coach when Michael Cheika leaves at the end of the season, said the appointment of Malone would bring a fresh perspective to the coaching team.

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Super RugbyIt is the Semi-Final Round of Super Rugby 2015 this weekend.

There are only 2 matches in the Round, 1 in New Zealand and 1 in Australia.

1St Place on the Combined Log, the Hurricanes hosts the lowest Qualifier, the Brumbies. In the other match 2nd on the Log, the Waratahs hosts the other qualifier from last weekend, the Highlanders.

The 2 Franchises who finished in the No 1 and No 2 spots on the Combined Log, the Hurricanes and Waratahs respectively, have had wonderful rest weekends, as they sat out during the Top 6 Qualification Round last weekend.

The action is kicked off by the Hurricanes vs Brumbies who do battle in Wellington at 09:35 SA Time (19:35 NZ Time, 17:35 AEST, 07:35 GMT) on Saturday 27 June.

A little later, over in Sydney, Australia, the Waratahs plays the Highlanders at 11:55 SA Time (19:55 AEST, 21:55 NZ Time, 09:55 GMT).

After this Round only 2 Teams remain to contest the Final next weekend.

The Hurricanes vs Brumbies game should be an absolute cracker after the Brumbies’ massive win over the DHL Stormers last weekend, but one would have to give a nod to the most consistent team of this year’s series, the Hurricanes, who have stood out head and shoulders above all comers in 2015.

Both teams sport great backlines but I am of the opinion that the Hurricanes are punching at the weight they should always punch at in 2015, and I give the win to them, but not by a large margin.

As far as the other match is concerned, do we give home ground advantage enough weight to speculate that the Waratahs will overcome the staunch Highlanders in Sydney… even though their regular league season was not as brilliant as last season, OR do we say that the Highlander’s faerie tale will continue in 2015?

It is a difficult call to make and I’m leaning towards the Waratahs making it at home in Sydney!

Meanwhile 11Teams are already lounging around, no longer part of the race to the finish line.

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