They’re 10,966 kilometres from home and massive outsiders for Saturday night’s Super Rugby semi-final, but Sharks coach Jake White thinks conditions could play into his side’s hands.
The Durban-based team know if they want any chance of stunning the Crusaders for the second time this season, they need to stick to their strengths.
On a cold Christchurch night, the Sharks will be aiming to retain possession, build up pressure and utilise their dominant scrum and rolling maul.
The long kicking games of fullback SP Marais and backline general Francois Steyn will also be integral as they seek to play the game in the right areas of the field.
He endured the pain of a broken bone in his foot during the 2011 World Cup but Richie McCaw said that was a doddle compared to playing with a fractured rib.
All Blacks captain McCaw hurt his rib in the second test against England on May June 14 and, thinking it was just bruising, he ignored the discomfort to play the third test a week later.
During that match, however, McCaw knew something was seriously wrong.
“By the end of that third test I was pretty sore. With an injured foot it doesn’t hurt when you go into contact – it is only when you are running.”
The Sharks’ advancement to the Super Rugby semi-finals has meant the Springbok squad announcement for the upcoming Rugby Championship will be slightly delayed.
The SA Rugby Union on Wednesday announced that there are lingering injury concerns over certain players which will see the 30-man Springbok squad only be announced on Saturday 2 August.
Flank Deon Stegmann has been made captain of the Blue Bulls for this year’s Currie Cup competition.
Bulls coach Frans Ludeke confirmed the news on Wednesday.
Stegmann, 28, will take over from Jono Ross who captained the team in last year’s Currie Cup when they failed to make the semi-finals.
Juan Smith has moved closer to a possible recall for the Springboks after his French club Toulon released him along side Bryan Habana and Bakkies Botha for the Rugby Championship.
This comes as SARU announced that a 30-man Springbok squad for the forthcoming Rugby Championship will only be announced on Saturday 2 August.
This is due to the Sharks still being involved in Super Rugby and lingering injury concerns over certain players.
In April 2012, Smith announced that he would be taking an indefinite break from rugby due to the ongoing battle with his Achilles injury.
Welsh club Cardiff Blues have announced the signing of Gareth Anscombe from Super Rugby side, the Chiefs.
Anscombe, who can play flyhalf or fullback, will make the move to Cardiff Arms Park later this year and join the exciting new-look squad under the guidance of new Director of Rugby Mark Hammett, Cardiff wrote on their official website.
The Bulls continued on their wave of signings as they have snapped up Blitzbok star Jamba Ulengo to join them alongside the likes of Bok Trevor Nyakane and loose forward Lappies Labuschagne next year.
Ulengo, who was a regular both in Paul Treu and Neil Powell’s Springbok Sevens sides, is a big fast skilful runner on the wing who loves to score tries and other than his exploits on the HSBC World Sevens Series has also played for Shimlas in the Varsity Cup and for the Toyota Cheetahs at Absa Currie Cup level.
The announcement of the trio – plus the loss of hooker Bongi Mbonambi to the Stormers – will be made in the next day or so by the Bulls after they have completed dotting all the I’s and crossing the T’s on the various contracts and may also include an announcement of Springbok hooker Adriaan Strauss as well.
Strauss has been given until Wednesday to make a decision on his future by the Bulls, who are looking to lure him to Loftus as well, but pressure from Bloemfontein, where he owns two businesses and a renewed big money offer from the Cheetahs has given him second thoughts.
Glasgow Warriors have signed South African prop Rossouw de Klerk from the Cheetahs, subject to a visa and medical.
The 24-year-old has put pen to paper on a two-year deal at Scotstoun and will join up with Gregor Townsend’s squad for pre-season training at the end of the month.
The 1.85m tighthead began his senior career in Pretoria, making his debut for the Blue Bulls in 2009. He went on to make 41 appearances for them, 14 of which were in Super Rugby.
In 2013 de Klerk joined the Cheetahs and has made 14 appearances in the Vodacom Cup and Currie Cup and has played seven times in Super Rugby this season.
Rugby-Talk’s SuperBru competition for the 2014 Super Rugby tournament is drawing to a close with only three matches remaining.
In last week’s Qualifying rounds JohnR earned the yellow cap with a solid 5 pointer moving him up 12 places to 31st. Carol still leads the pack of hungry wolves chasing at her heels, but refuses to relinquish her coveted 1st spot. Sharks_Lover is still a close second, with less than a point separating the two.
Both Winston Champ and Charo at 3 and 4 respectively have fallen slightly off the pace, with 3,5 and 5,2 points separating them from Carol.
Before making those SuperBru predictions, let’s have a look at some picks, tips and predictions first.
A couple of days ago, on the “Junior Rugby: SA School’s Training Squad Announced thread”, there was some banter and laughter regarding some funny names.
That got me thinking, what is the top 10 funniest names, courtesy of Home Affairs.
No rugby players involved, but there is a king of pop, some currency, a weekly newspaper and a popular brand of booze.
Is Jake White trying to get his excuses in early should his Shark team lose against the Crusaders on Saturday?
If his tactics against the last placed SA conference side, the Cheetahs, hadn’t backfire and the Sharks were victorious, they would have had the week off and played the semi final at home.
Would he have complained about the format then?
When his Bok team won the 2007 World Cup they did so without having to face either the All Blacks or the Wallabies. White never complained about the format being skewed did he? No, he benefitted and rightly so, the rules are the rules.
Another milestone reached… 11 Million Page Impressions!
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PUMA, the official technical and apparel sponsor of the Toyota Free State Cheetahs, has unveiled a new heritage-inspired Currie Cup rugby kit in the customary white and russet orange.
“As always the Toyota Free State Cheetahs are looking forward to the Currie Cup competition and this year even more so with our new Currie Cup jersey design from our partner PUMA,” said Kobus le Roux, the Marketing & Sales Executive at the Free State Cheetahs. “PUMA has yet again been able to design a new fresh look for the Toyota Free State Cheetahs without changing our unique traditions. Proudly white and orange! Proudly Cheetahs! Proudly PUMA.”
PUMA, the official technical and apparel sponsor of the Blue Bulls, has unveiled a new Currie Cup rugby kit inspired by heritage and tradition – with no pink colourways or camo designs in sight.
The jersey in the Blue Bulls’ customary blue is also embroidered with both the PUMA logo and the Blue Bulls’ Daisy on the shirt. Part of PUMA’s evoPOWER Rugby apparel design, the jersey uses a polyester tight fit material which is lightweight, comfortable and robust.
“The ABSA Currie Cup symbolises the long and proud heritage of South African Rugby, so it was important for us not to break away from the traditional look of our ABSA Currie Cup jersey for that very reason. We firmly believe that the simplicity, yet elegance of the design makes a bold statement,” said Barend van Graan, CEO of the Blue Bulls Company.
The Cell C Sharks team named by Director of Rugby Jake White shows a number of changes from last week’s line-up, albeit not in any major disruptive way as the team prepare for Saturday’s Vodacom semi-final showdown with the Crusaders, reports Sharks website editor Michael Marnewick.
With Anton Bresler falling foul to a knee injury against the Highlanders in last week’s quarter-final win at Kings Park and not making the journey to New Zealand, Willem Alberts shifts from flank to the second row, with his place on the side of the scrum taken by Jean Deysel.
It’S the biggest Down Under derby in 12 years — but is the Waratahs vs Brumbies rivalry the biggest in Australian rugby full stop?
NSW vs Queensland has long been the marquee match-up for Aussie outfits, and with 140 years of tradition to back it up it’s little wonder.
But the battle between the Tahs and their “little brother” from down the road in the ACT might have trumped it in recent times.
Wallaby hooker Stephen Moore has the unique experience of playing the Waratahs both as a Reds player (from 2003-08) and now with the Brumbies.
Way back in 2009, when he had just arrived in Canberra, Moore observed of the Tahs-Brumbies enmity that: “it’s equally as big as the Queensland-NSW rivalry.”
And Wallabies great Stephen Larkham, a Brumbies legend as a player and well on his way to becoming one as a coach, reckons it’s gone even beyond equal status.
It’s a very fine line between hero and zero. No one is more acutely aware of that than Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder.
There was a time at this stage of the season when the Crusaders were unstoppable. Not any more.
Making it to this point has been something of a meritorious specialty for the last 13 years. However, for all the criticism that is directed his way, Blackadder is the first to admit that he has won nothing.
Ewen McKenzie says an Australian side winning the Super Rugby crown would be ”as good as it gets” for the Wallabies’ Bledisloe Cup prospects.
The Waratahs and Brumbies go head to head in a blockbuster semi-final at Allianz Stadium on Saturday night, with the winners likely to take on New Zealand superpowers, the Crusaders, in the August 2 championship decider.
The Wallabies tackle the All Blacks two weeks later in the Bledisloe Cup and Rugby Championship opener in Sydney.
“Form and confidence, they’re good attributes to have,” McKenzie said after announcing his 32-man Rugby Championship squad yesterday.
“If you’re out there beating your opponents and winning consistently – and that’s what these teams have been doing – and the Wallabies have been doing the same thing.”
Captain Luke Braid headlines a quartet of Blues players who have recommitted to the franchise for the next Super Rugby season.
Braid, fellow flanker Brendon O’Connor and wing Frank Halai have all signed one-year deals with the Blues while halfback Bryn Hall has re-signed until the end of 2016.
The 25-year-old Braid was a consistently high performer this season, despite carrying a shoulder injury for most of the year, and still has high ambitions in New Zealand. “I’m still incredibly motivated to win something with the Blues and continue to try and make the All Blacks,” Braid said.
Richie McCaw has been named at blindside flanker and Corey Flynn will start his 150th Super Rugby match when the Crusaders meet the Sharks in Saturday night’s semifinal in Christchurch.
All Blacks captain McCaw, who hasn’t played since carrying a fractured rib into the third test against England on 21 June, has predictably been named at blindside flanker to allow the in-form Matt Todd to start in his specialist openside flanker role.
Flynn has been elevated ahead of Ben Funnell, who started the previous two matches against the Highlanders and Blues, in the only other change to the run-on side that thumped the Highlanders 34-8 at AMI Stadium on 12 July.
The Brumbies have named an unchanged side for Saturday’s blockbuster Super Rugby semifinal against the NSW Waratahs.
It’s a huge boost for the underdog ACT side, who managed to survive last weekend’s bruising 32-30 knockout victory over the Chiefs in Canberra unscathed.
The past fortnight has seen a massive turnaround for the Brumbies, who only one month ago had their season put on life support when the red-hot Waratahs trounced their under-strength outfit 39-8.
Nothing beats a grudge game and the whiff of verbal cordite is swirling ahead of the Super rugby semifinal between the Waratahs and Brumbies.
The hostility is connected to the Wallabies test in Dublin last year when 15 players were disciplined for drinking and breaking curfew amid suspicions they were dobbed in by several of the Brumbies.
A number of the Tahs were intent on reprisal but bypassed any physical mischief when they easily won their round-robin contest last month 39-8. The Tahs are keen to imprint a physical message behind their determination to reach next week’s final.
Former All Blacks fullback Greg Cooper can’t believe Nemani Nadolo is yet to unwrap one of his deadliest tricks.
Cooper, who coaches Nadolo at his Japanese club NEC Green Rockets, hasn’t been surprised the Fijian wing has been a sensation at the Crusaders this season but reckons he can offer even more.
While everyone knows how effective Nadolo can be with the ball in hand, Cooper says one of the best ways to expose defences is to sling cross-kicks to his left wing and reckons there is an 80 per cent chance of scoring if it is executed correctly.
“He is the best winger I have ever seen when taking the ball from cross-kicks,” Cooper, speaking from Japan, emphasised.
Former Sharks assistant coach Chris Boyd doesn’t expect to see the South African side resorting to cynical behaviour or niggle to unsettle the Crusaders.
The Sharks caused a 30-25 boilover when the teams last met in Christchurch in May but they had to do it the hard way, playing 64 minutes with 14 men.
Poor discipline plagued the Sharks with loose forward Jean Deysel sent off after stamping on the face of Crusaders opposite Jordan Taufua. Fellow flanker Willem Alberts was sinbinned in the second half for a professional foul.
Boyd, who will coach the Hurricanes next season, was an assistant at the Sharks in 2009 and 2010 under John Plumtree.
Prior to our 1995 World Cup-winning campaign, the late Kitch Christie told us during one particular team meeting that we could either take the high road or the low road to reach the knockout phase writes Brendan Venter.
While we followed the former path having defeated Australia in our opening match, the Sharks’ class of 2014 have taken the latter route. Although more arduous, nothing is impossible in the oval game.