Players who failed to make the final 31-man Springbok Rugby World Cup squad have rejoined their respective provinces for ABSA Currie Cup duty.
Out of the original 49 players named prior to this year’s Rugby Championship, 18 will either be available for their South African provinces or jet off to rejoin their overseas clubs.
This means Warren Whiteley (Xerox Golden Lions), Vincent Koch (Steval Pumas), Lionel Mapoe (Xerox Golden Lions), Cornal Hendricks (Toyota Free State Cheetahs), Marcell Coetzee (Cell C Sharks), Cobus Reinach (Cell C Sharks), Scarra Ntubeni (DHL Western Province), Oupa Mohoje (Toyota Free State Cheetahs), Franco Mostert (Xerox Golden Lions), Marcel van der Merwe (Vodacom Blue Bulls), Jan Serfontein (Vodacom Blue Bulls), Steven Kitshoff (DHL Western Province) and Frans Steyn (Cell C Sharks) can be considered for Currie Cup duty from this weekend.
Players like Heinrich Brussow (Docomo Red Hurricanes, Japan), Elton Jantjies (NTT Shining Arcs, Japan), Jaque Fourie (Kobelco Steelers) and Heinke van der Merwe (Stade Francais, France) will head for their overseas clubs.
With the Springbok Rugby World Cup Squad having been announced on Friday at 18:00 SA Time, this weekend has slowly seen the emergence of the reaction to it.
The general reaction, mine included, is that some players should not be there and some should… but I think it’s fair to say that almost everybody agrees on 85% PLUS of the selected players… call them the “Non-Contestables”, if you will.
It is those final 7 or 8 players which the bickering has featured about as well as the undoubted support for or against the national coach, Heyneke Meyer.
From Government circles, the Minister of Sport & Recreation, Fikile Mbalula, has praised the team and announced that the South African Rugby Union (SARU) is on track with their transformation goals.
To counter this, some obscure little piddly widdly Political Party, the Agency for New Agenda Party…. yeah right, who the hell are they, you are also asking, like me.. have brought a High Court Application in the North Gauteng High Court, seeking an urgent order to compel SARU and the Sports Department officials to surrender their passports so they cannot travel.
Heyneke Meyer has had to fend off those who have questioned some of his selections too, mainly the selection of Rudy Paige at scrumhalf, the only uncapped Springbok in the squad and he has had to give reasons for the specific selection.
In recent weeks, the previous Springbok coach, Peter de Villiers, has also come out with some scathing critisism against Heyneke Meyer, and De Villiers has gone so far as to join forces with Labour Movement, Cosatu, to get his agenda and points accross as well as to form the backbone of a pressure group for the inclusion of more players of colour. Heyneke Meyer has retorted with a very simple yet eloquent reply, by praising Peter de Villiers.
Lastly, with fears regarding the fitness of a number of previously injured and rehabilitating players included in the squad, most notably Fourie du Preez, Jean de Villiers, Duane Vermeulen, Jannie du Plessis and Coenie Oosthuizen, coach Meyer now assures us that all 31 players will be ready to play when the tournament starts on 18 September.
So here goes, let’s look at all these aspects in more depth:
The Blue Bulls Company (Pty) Ltd on Monday confirmed that a number of high profile Springboks have extended their contracts with the Blue Bulls Company for the next couple of seasons.
The likes of Handré Pollard (Oct 2019), Adriaan Strauss (Oct 2019), Jesse Kriel (Oct 2019), Trevor Nyakane (Oct 2018) and Jan Serfontein (Oct 2017) all confirmed their futures with the Vodacom Bulls and Vodacom Blue Bulls, by signing extensions that will keep them in Pretoria for a considerable time.
“This is a clear indication that frontline players see the Vodacom Bulls and Vodacom Blue Bulls as the ideal place to continue and build their already impressive careers,” says High Performance Manager at the Blue Bulls Comapany, Xander Janse van Rensburg.
The Xerox Golden Lions swopped places with the Vodacom Blue Bulls at the Top of the ABSA Currie Cup standings after their comprehensive 41 / 11 win over the Steval Pumas on Friday in Nelspruit, with flyhalf Marnitz Boshoff contributing 21 points with the boot.
The Vodacom Blue Bulls proved too strong for ORC Griquas in their Premier Division clash on Saturday in Kimberley and although they won their match comfortably by 46 / 32, they slipped to 2nd spot on the Log after the completion of Round 4, on points difference.
Elsewhere on Saturday, the Cell C Sharks scored a close-fought 24 / 20 win over the Eastern Province Kings after they overturned a 7 / 13 halftime deficit in the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
DHL Western Province, the defending champions, suffered their 2nd successive away loss when the Toyota Free State Cheetahs pipped them by 28 / 21 in Bloemfontein on Friday evening despite a spirited rally in the 2nd half.
After 4 Rounds it is the Golden Lions now leading the Log thanks to their 30-point win in Nelspruit, closely followed by the Blue Bulls. The neighbours both have the maximum 20 points from 4 matches. Western Province and Free State Cheetahs (both 10 points) are 3rd and 4th, with the Sharks 5th and now just 1 point behind them. The Pumas (8 points), EP Kings (3 points) and Griquas (1 point) complete the standings.
Wales coach Warren Gatland named prop Samson Lee in his 31-man squad for this year’s Rugby World Cup.
Lee has not played since rupturing his Achilles tendon in March.
Flyhalf Gareth Anscombe was left out in favour of Matthew Morgan.
Wales are in Pool A with hosts England, Australia, Fiji and Uruguay.
Japan’s national coach, Eddie Jones, on Monday named former Australian rugby league star Craig Wing among a 31-strong Japan Rugby World Cup squad.
The squad is packed with imported talent for the tournament beginning next month.
Jones handed a place to former Kangaroo and New South Wales State of Origin Craig Wing, named Chiefs flank Michael Leitch – who is of Fijian origin – as captain and also included former Reds loose forward Hendrik Tui.
Australian Jones also turned to 2nd row forward Michael Broadhurst, who is the brother of 1-cap All Black lock James Broadhurst, and picked veteran New Zealand-born big man Luke Thompson, 34, who can play either in the 2nd row or at loose forward.
SANZAR has written to the Japan Rugby Football Union seeking clarity about the players signed to the new Super Rugby franchise amid concerns about the team’s participation in the southern hemisphere provincial competition.
Japan beat off a bid from Singapore to enter a team into the expanded 18-side tournament next year but local media have cast doubts on the side’s ability to compete.
JRFU general secretary Noriyuki Sakamoto shot down reports over the weekend that only a handful of players had been signed, saying the team had already met the quota given to them by SANZAR.
But Brendan Morris, acting chief executive of SANZAR, the tournament’s governing body, said he had asked for more details.
Auckland ITM Cup head coach Paul Feeney has been named an assistant for the Blues, commencing at the end of this year’s provincial championship.
Feeney completes the new coaching group for the Blues under head coach Tana Umaga, taking specific responsibility for the backs attack and skills. He joins new defence coach Alastair Rogers and current forwards coach Glenn Moore.
Feeney, a former North Harbour representative, has been a professional coach for 14 seasons including 2 as assistant coach for Fiji and including winning the Rugby World Cup Sevens title and also coached for 2 years in Japan.
He has been involved in the ITM Cup with North Harbour, Bay of Plenty and Auckland, taking over as head coach last year.
Feeney won 3 Heartland Championship titles in succession with East Coast from 2006 – 2008, and was assistant coach with the Blues Development side for the last 3 years.
The Scotland team and the 2 Scottish PRO12 teams, Edinburgh and Glasgow Warriors, were in action this weekend playing warm-up matches.
Scotland faced Italy for the 2nd weekend in a row in the 3rd of their 4 Rugby World Cup warm-up matches. The game was played at Murrayfield in front of what was said to be a record crowd for a summer Test match. The team that ran out must have been close to Vern Cotter’s 1st choice 15 and they did not disappoint running in 6 tries and only conceding 1 in a very impressive performance.
WP Nel put in a solid performance which saw Italy’s scrum in trouble from the word go. The pressure Nel put on Italy’s loosehead prop earned Scotland a few penalties with the loosehead resorting to scrumming in on various occasions.
The next game of the day also took place in Edinburgh where the hosts took on Ulster in a preseason warm-up match, 1 week ahead of the start of the PRO12 for 2015 / 2016. The game was played at Heriot FC’s ground Goldenacre due to the Test match which was played earlier in the day at Murrayfield.
Head coach Alan Solomons would have been pleased to see his team get their 2nd win in their 2nd preseason friendly match against what was a fairly strong starting Ulster line-up.
The final game of the day, which was billed as the ‘Battle of New Scotland’, saw Canada host Glasgow Warriors in Halifax Nova Scotia.
Josh Strauss played the whole game for the Warriors ahead of possible inclusion in the Scotland World Cup squad. Former Glasgow Warriors winger DTH vd Merwe scored a try for Canada late in the game to ensure victory for them. The game was played in quite high temperatures and there were a few water breaks during the game.
The South African Springboks squad, to take on the world’s best in England, at the 2015 Rugby World Cup was officially announced at 18:00 SA Time (16:00 GMT), live on SuperSport 1 on TV in South Africa.
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer is on a hiding to nothing, no matter which squad he would have selected, whether it be from lobbyists saying that there are not enough players of colour in the side OR whether he is accused of player bias OR choosing old favourites… OR not choosing players on merit.
I urge everybody to accept his selection prerogatives, even though you or me would have done it differently, and to get behind this Springbok side for the Rugby World Cup, where they will be representing their country to the best of their abilities.
The “Ghost Squad” has already been discussed ad-nauseam, the announced squad is exactly the same and feature the inclusion of fringe players like Zane Kirchner, Rudy Paige, Siya Kolisi and Morné Steyn.
Injured or previously injured players like Fourie du Preez, Jean de Villiers, Duane Vermeulen, Coenie Oosthuizen, Jannie du Plessis is also be included in the squad.
A number of players are hugely unlucky not to be selected, they include Heinrich Brüssow, Steven Kitshoff, Marcel van der Merwe, Vincent Koch, Marcell Coetzee, Jan Serfontein, Frans Steyn, Cornal Hendricks, Cobus Reinach and Francois Hougaard.
Here is the Springbok Rugby World Cup squad for 2015, which is now official:
Nehe Milner-Skudder and Waisake Naholo were rewarded for their fine form after they were included in New Zealand’s Rugby World Cup squad.
The inclusion of the 2 pacemean means that there is no place for veterans Israel Dagg and Cory Jane in the squad. Charles Piutau, who has featured regularly for the All Blacks in the last 2 seasons, also misses out on selection.
The squad, captained by Richie McCaw, features 17 forwards and 14 backs. It will be a particularly exciting time for 17 of the All Blacks squad, who will be going to their 1st Rugby World Cup tournament.
All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen said said the squad was a reflection of the depth the country has at the moment.
The Brumbies are celebrating the re-signing of 1 of world rugby’s most respected players, after David Pocock committed to a new 1-year deal with the club.
Pocock was a standout for the Brumbies in 2015 and was rewarded with 3 of the club’s highest on-field honours, the Brett Robinson Player’s Player, the fan-voted Stallion of the Year and the Best Forward awards.
Capping off a remarkable season, he was also named the Australian Super Rugby Player of the Year at the annual John Eales Medal ceremony in Sydney.
His achievements this season were made even more remarkable by the fact he had played just 5 games in 2013 and 2014 due to 2 serious knee injuries.
The Waratahs and Australian Rugby Union (ARU) have announced the re-signing of Kurtley Beale on a contract that will see him in Australia for at least a further 2 years, until the end of 2017.
Waratahs Head Coach Daryl Gibson said Beale’s commitment to the side for 2 more seasons would continue his significant contribution to the legacy of the club.
“Kurtley has played some of his best football for the Waratahs, and I am confident we will see his game continue to progress in the seasons to come,” Gibson said.
EP Kings (13) 20 / 24 (7) Sharks (Final Score)
The Eastern Province Kings and Cell C Sharks did battle in the ABSA Currie Cup at
Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth at 17:05 SA Time (15:05 GMT).
This was the live match discussion Article.
The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1 & M-Net on TV in SA.
Griquas (11) 32 / 46 (31) Blue Bulls (Final Score)
The ORC Griquas and Vodacom Blue Bulls did battle in the ABSA Currie Cup at
GWK Park, Kimberley at 15:00 SA Time (13:00 GMT).
This was the live match discussion Article.
The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1 & M-Net on TV in SA.
FS Cheetahs (25) 28 / 21 (15) WP (Final Score)
The Toyota Free State Cheetahs and DHL Western Province did battle in the ABSA Currie Cup at
Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein at 19:10 SA Time (17:10 GMT).
This was the live match discussion Article.
The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1 & CSN on TV in SA.
ABSA Currie Cup Log leaders, the Vodacom Blue Bulls, travel to Kimberley this weekend where they face a potentially difficult away fixture against the ORC Griquas side, while 2nd placed Xerox Golden Lions make the trip to Nelspruit in Mpumalanga to face the Steval Pumas.
The ORC Griquas are still searching for their 1st win in this year’s tournament, but the Blue Bulls travel to the Diamond City with the full knowledge that a visit to Kimberley is always a testing, bruising affair for any visiting team.
After suffering their 1st loss in 3 matches against the Blue Bulls last Saturday in Pretoria, DHL Western Province on Friday face a stern challenge in Bloemfontein against the Toyota Free State Cheetahs.
In the remaining fixture the Eastern Province Kings will be hoping to continue with their recent improvement when they host the Cell C Sharks at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth. The EP Kings lost by 2 points against the Steval Pumas in Round 3, after giving a good account of themselves specially during a spirited 2nd half display.
Xerox Golden Lions head coach, Johan Ackermann, has made several changes to his team for the Steval Pumas clash. There is however major concern regarding the fitness of their captain, Jaco Kriel, who sustained a quadriceps injury in the captain’s run on Thursday morning.
Wing Kobus van Wyk is back in the DHL Western Province starting line-up for Friday’s ABSA Currie Cup clash against the Toyota Free State Cheetahs at the Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein. Kick-off is at 19:10 SA Time. The defending champions will be looking to bounce back from last weekend’s defeat to the Blue Bulls and Van Wyk’s inclusion is 1 of 3 changes to the starting line-up.
The Toyota Free State Cheetahs, who lost to WP by 6 points in the rain 2 weeks ago, bounced back to form last weekend with a bonus point victory over the ORC Griquas, sending a clear warning to WP that a tough challenge awaits them in Bloemfontein.
The return of lock Giant Mtyanda to the Steval Pumas run-on side is the only change for their clash against the Xerox Golden Lions in Nelspruit on Friday. The Mpumalanga side face a difficult examination against the in-form visitors in this battle which also starts at 19:10 SA Time.
The Cell C Sharks will be looking for back-to-back victories when they meet the EP Kings in their 2nd encounter of ABSA Currie Cup matches in Port Elizabeth following their 33 / 25 1st Round win at Growthpoint Kings Park.
They are aware it’s not going to be easy after the EP Kings showed a much-improved performance against the Steval Pumas last weekend and they’re playing at home with its added advantages.
The backline that did duty against the Xerox Golden Lions last weekend has remained in tact following no injury concerns and they have a desire to develop the cohesion further, while amongst the forwards Gerhard Engelbrecht trades places with Thomas du Toit and will gain his 1st start of the campaign after 2 games played off the bench in the only change to the entire starting XV.
On the bench, JC Astle returns from injury while exciting young prospect Garth April is handed his 1st senior jersey in Cell C Sharks colours.
The Vodacom Blue Bulls will be without Francois Hougaard and Hanro Liebenberg this weekend. Livewire Hougaard will miss Saturday’s ABSA Currie Cup clash against ORC Griquas in Kimberley due to personal commitments, as his sister is getting married and he was given permission to miss the clash while Liebenberg is out injured.
Ivan van Zyl will start at scrumhalf in his run-on debut for the Vodacom Blue Bulls, whilst the return of Springbok Arno Botha at No 8 will offset the loss of Liebenberg, who will be out for at least a month.
Botha has just returned from injury and will be part of a new loose trio that will also feature regular captain, Lappies Labuschagne, and new starter, Jannes Kirsten, who debuted for the team last weekend from the bench. Kirsten replaces the injured Roelof Smit in the last of 3 changes to the starting team from last weekend.
WP Nel is due to start a test match for Scotland for the 1st time when they face Italy at BT Murrayfield on Saturday. The burly tighthead prop from Loeriesfontein qualifies to play for Scotland on residency grounds, having played for Edinburgh for the last 3 years. Nel who earned his 1st Scotland cap against Italy in Turin last weekend when he came on as a substitute in the 47th minunte is 1 of 14 changes that has been made to the starting team.
Sean Lamont is the only player who retains his place in the starting line-up from last week with several players in the match day squad making their 1st appearance in this series of warm-up matches.
Head coach Vern Cotter announced his team today and the starting line-up appears to be close to what could be considered his 1st choice 15. The halfbacks and fullback look to be Cotter’s favoured choices while there may still be 1 or 2 changes on the wings and 1 at centre. Up front we are likely to be seeing the 1st choice tight 5 in action while there will possibly still be a change or 2 to the loose forward trio.
Xerox Golden Lions head coach Johan Ackermann has selected his team for Friday evening’s clash against the Steval Pumas in Nelspruit.
Ackermann has made 4 personnel changes to the starting forward group, which downed the Cell C Sharks 31 / 16 last weekend. In the front row, Jacques van Rooyen will start at loosehead prop, with Ruan Dreyer shifting to tighthead.
Additionally, Martin Muller will start at lock while Fabian Booysen returns to the No 8 berth as a result of the injury to Ruaan Lerm.
As a result of a late quadriceps injury that captain Jaco Kriel sustained during this morning’s captain’s run, Stephan de Wit has also been included in the side at flank. The extent of Kriel’s injury is not known at this stage.
A change in the Xerox Golden Lions backline sees Sampie Mastriet start at wing, shifting Ruan Combrinck out to fullback.
Sam Burgess was included in England’s final 31-man squad for the Rugby World Cup announced on Thursday just 10 months after changing codes from rugby league.
Burgess, the man-of-the-match in South Sydney Rabbitohs’ win in the Australian National Rugby League Grand Final, was included after playing just 70 minutes of Test rugby union – his debut in a 19 / 14 win over France at Twickenham a fortnight ago seeing him sin-binned for 10 minutes.
The 26-year-old edged out the more experienced Luther Burrell for a place among England coach Stuart Lancaster’s centres even though Burgess spent much of last season playing as a back-row forward for Bath.
Henry Slade, who also impressed on his debut against France at Twickenham, was also included in midfield alongside Burgess – although Jonathan Joseph and Brad Barritt appear to be England’s 1st-choice centres.
Ben Morgan, only recently returned from a broken leg, was included among the back-row forwards with Harlequins veteran Nick Easter missing out while Sale flyhalf Danny Cipriani, as was widely forecast, also failed to make it to the final squad.
Israel Folau becomes the 1st Australian player to win consecutive John Eales Medals.
The Wallabies and Waratahs fullback Israel Folau has claimed the 2015 John Eales Medal, winning the award for a 2nd consecutive year.
In just his 3rd year in Rugby Union’s top flight, Folau’s meteoric rise has continued as he becomes just the 3rd player in the 14-year history of the John Eales Medal to collect the major award for a 2nd time, joining George Smith (2002, 2008) and Nathan Sharpe (2007, 2012).
At a packed gala dinner at Royal Randwick Racecourse in Sydney, the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) celebrated and acknowledged the players, coaches, fans, match officials and administrators for their dedication, committment and outstanding performance.
Folau picked up 138 votes in total to edge out resurgent flanker David Pocock (113), Wallabies Vice-Captains Michael Hooper (108), Adam Ashley-Cooper (98), and Ben McCalman (95) to become the 1st ever back-to-back winner.
World Rugby has demanded from Japan to supply a list of confirmed venues for the 2019 Rugby World Cup after Tokyo’s decision to scrap the proposed stadium that would host the final.
The decision to remove the future New National Stadium from the line-up was to amid huge cost overruns.
World Rugby said it was giving the tournament’s Japanese hosts until the end of September to come up with a “revised detailed host venue proposal that delivers exceptional team and fan experience, maximising opportunities for fans to be a part of rugby’s showcase event”.
The governing body has also requested a fresh tournament budget that supplies “appropriate financial security”.
The demands come after Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe shocked World Rugby last month when he scrapped plans for the New National Stadium for the 2020 Olympics.
The stadium was scheduled to host Rugby World Cup matches in 2019, including the showpiece final.
Former Springbok wing Chester Williams has been appointed as the new head coach of the University of the Western Cape’s rugby team.
He replaces former Springbok coach Peter de Villiers, whose contract with the university has expired.
De Villiers had coached UWC in the 2nd-tier Varsity Shield competition since 2012.
Bakkies Botha will captain the Barbarians in the 1st rugby match staged at the Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
The 2007 Rugby World Cup winner leads the invitation side against Samoa on Saturday as rugby arrives at the iconic London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic venue. His team contains international stars from Australia, South Africa and New Zealand as well as a Samoa representative in Paul Williams.
Botha made 85 appearances for the Springboks and is the most experienced player in a group with a total of 455 Test caps between them.
The starting line-up also includes Benn Alexander (72 caps), Pierre Spies (53), Carl Hayman (45), Wynand Olivier (38), Luke Burgess (37), and Saia Fainga’a (36).
Equally exciting are the trio of uncapped players who include Glasgow Warriors’ giant wing Taqele Naiyaravoro, the Japan-based New Zealander Dwayne Sweeney and athletic Melbourne Rebels lock Luke Jones.
Former All Blacks Jamie Joseph and Carlos Spencer are coaching the Barbarians, who celebrate their 125th anniversary this year.
Saracens loose forward Jacques Burger will captain Namibia in the upcoming Rugby World Cup in England after the squad was named on Thursday.
The veteran flank will lead a squad where 14 of the 31 players selected have previous Rugby World Cup experience.
Burger is amongst 4 members of the squad that will be appearing in their 3rd World Cup, with prop Johnnie Redelinghuys, loose forward Tinus du Plessis and scrumhalf Eugene Jantjies also part of the Namibian teams that participated in France 2007 and New Zealand 2011.
Redelinghuys is Namibia highest capped player of all time with 46 Test matches to his credit.
9 Players, Raoul Larson, Rohan Kitshoff, PJ van Lill, Theuns Kotzé, Darryl de La Harpe, Danie van Wyk, Conrad Marais, David Philander and Chrysander Botha also did duty in New Zealand in 2011.
Toyota Free State Free State Cheetahs’ coach Franco Smith has made just 1 change to his team to take on DHL Western Province in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
Smith has opted for consistency, sticking with his troops that defeated Griquas 31 / 9 in Kimberly last weekend barring 1 change in the front row.
The change sees BG ‘Burrie’ Uys start at loosehead prop, while Caylib Oosthuizen moves to the bench in place of Maks van Dyk, who has been released to play for the Barbarians against Samoa in London.
Tertius Kruger also slots into the replacements, with the injured Tienie Burger missing out.
Ex Springbok centre and fullback, Ian Robertson, a skilled and determined player from what was then Rhodesia, died on Monday 24 August 2015.
He was only 65 but had been ill for a long time in a battle against leukaemia, ironic for such a fit man who helped so many others to fitness.
He played in 5 Tests for South Africa – not many but then there were not many in the 70’s and it was that much harder for a Rhodesian to be selected.
He 1st became a Springbok in 1974 as part of the rebuilding of the team after the trashing by the 1974 British Lions. He was chosen as a centre and played his 1st Test against France in Toulouse and then his 2nd at Parc des Princes in Paris. The Springboks won both, the 1st one 13 / 4, the 2nd 10 / 8.
In each case his centre partner was Johan Oosthuizen. In 1976 the All Blacks came and Robertson played fullback against them in 2 Tests and centre in 1. The Springboks won the series 3 / 1. He also played for a World XV against Cardiff that year.
Robertson was Rhodesia’s Sportsman of the Year in 1976.
Wing Kobus van Wyk is back in the DHL Western Province line-up for Friday evening’s ABSA Currie Cup clash against the Toyota Free State Cheetahs at the Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein.
DHL WP, the defending ABSA Currie Cup champions, will be looking to bounce back from last weekend’s defeat to the Vodacom Blue Bulls in Pretoria and Van Wyk’s inclusion is 1 of 3 changes to the starting line-up this time around.
The hard-running Van Wyk comes in for Dillyn Leyds on the right-wing, scrumhalf Godlen Masimla replaces Nic Groom, who is on Barbarians duty in London, and Alistair Vermaak starts at loosehead prop in place of the injured Oli Kebble.
Kebble’s hamstring has not recovered sufficiently from the weekend, whilst exciting talent Masimla will make his 1st ABSA Currie Cup start for DHL Western Province in the absence of both Groom and Jano Vermaak, who injured his finger against the Vodacom Blue Bulls.
Fit-again halfback Louis Schreuder is the new scrumhalf replacement and he will be joined on the bench by ABSA Currie Cup debutant JP Smith – the new prop replacement – and lock Jan de Klerk, who comes in for the injured Chris van Zyl (knee).
Steval Pumas coach MJ Mentz announced an unchanged 22-man line-up for the 4th Currie Cup match of the season.
The men from Nelspruit will host the high-flying Xerox Golden Lions on Friday – the 2nd time the 2 sides will meet this season in the Currie Cup.
The Golden Lions beat the Pumas 44 / 27 in Johannesburg a fortnight ago.
The sides have not met in Nelspruit since the Pumas’ return to the Currie Cup competition in 2014.
However, Pumas coach MJ Mentz is confident about his team’s chances.
Springbok stars Frans Malherbe, Eben Etzebeth, Siya Kolisi and Damian de Allende have all committed their long-term rugby futures to DHL Western Province and the DHL Stormers.
Prop Malherbe, lock Etzebeth, flanker Kolisi and centre De Allende are in contention to represent South Africa at the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England, having all been part of the Springbok squad this season after stellar Vodacom Super Rugby campaigns for the DHL Stormers.
Between them, the quartet have featured in 61 Tests, Etzebeth leading the way with 37 Test appearances since his debut against England in 2012, with Malherbe (6 Tests) and Kolisi (11 Tests) making their debuts in 2013 and De Allende (7 Tests) playing his 1st international in 2014.
“Frans Malherbe, Eben Etzebeth, Siya Kolisi and Damian de Allende have all been developed here at Western Province, coming through our youth structures and going on to play Test rugby for South Africa as standout DHL Stormers and DHL Western Province players,” said WP Director of Rugby Gert Smal.
Vodacom Blue Bulls No 8, Hanro Liebenberg, will miss at least the next 6 weeks of the ABSA Currie Cup due to surgery, but Arno Botha has been cleared to play in the competition this weekend.
Liebenberg left the field late in the 1st half after a heavy tackle that saw him limp off, and there were no signs of the rupture in the scan that the Blue Bulls medical personnel did after the game on Saturday night.
But on Sunday Liebenberg didn’t feel well and headed back to the medical personnel, who rushed him to hospital where he was admitted in a serious condition and diagnosed with a ruptured small intestine and bruised colon from the tackle.
There was widespread fear on Monday that the injury could be career-ending as Liebenberg underwent emergency surgery in Pretoria, but the operation was a success, with a 2nd operation scheduled for Wednesday.
The SA Under 20 captain is set to miss most of the rest of the Currie Cup season because of the injury, and will face a slow road to recovery after the rupture released gas into his body that deteriorated his condition fast.
Following their narrow 15 / 13 Currie Cup loss to the Steval Pumas in Port Elizabeth at the weekend, the EP Kings have a few more injury concerns.
Centre Tim Whitehead suffered concussion in the game against the Pumas and his availability for this weekend’s home game against the Sharks is in doubt.
He was cleared of symptoms, but will follow a gradual return to play protocol until Thursday. If he comes through that, then he will be cleared to face his former team.
Flyhalf George Whitehead picked up a knee injury and saw a specialist on Monday to determine the severity of the injury.
Flank Jacques Engelbrecht has a left hip pointer injury and is likely to be sidelined for the next 2 weeks, while prop Basil Short has recovered from a foot injury, but a spider bite has kept him sidelined this week.
Referee Craig Joubert has made the cut with 3 fellow South Africans for the team of 12 match officials selected for the 2015 / 2016 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, World Rugby announced on Monday.
Joubert will link up with Ben Crouse, Rasta Rasivhenge and Marius van der Westhuizen and 8 new colleagues following the completion of Rugby World Cup 2015 and before the opening Round in Dubai. He will remain available for 15-a-side duty throughout the season.
Rasivhenge is also among the 10 officials who have been selected for the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series, which will also kick off in the United Arab Emirates.
The desire from the world’s top 15s referees to be a part of the match officials’ team, heightens the already tough competition for places as excitement builds in anticipation of the 2016 Rio Olympics.