The Springboks missed an ideal opportunity to put the pressure on New Zealand and Australia after the latter two sides drew 12-all in the first game of this year’s Rugby Championship at the Olympic Stadium in Sydney on Saturday.
To say the unseasonal Loftus monsoon made constructive rugby extremely difficult is an understatement, but one would like to believe that the Boks should have played the situation much better than Saturday’s 13-6 victory in their opener against Argentina in Pretoria.
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer has been given a massive boost with the news that he should be able to pick as close to his strongest side for this weekend’s Castle Lager Rugby Championship opener against Argentina at Loftus Versfeld.
Team doctor Craig Roberts cleared props Frans Malherbe, Tendai “Beast” Mtawarira and lock Eben Etzebeth for action and crucially also gave captain Jean de Villiers the all-clear to play this weekend after spending the last few months on the sidelines with injury.
Sharks prop Tendai “Beast” Mtawarira has revealed that he will leave the Durban-based franchise at the end of 2015.
Mtawarira confirmed that he will further his career outside of South Africa after next year’s World Cup in England.
The veteran of 55 Tests with the Springboks, who has played for the Sharks since 2007, said he hopes to get a fresh challenge in Europe.
“My goals for 2015 is to help the Sharks do well in Super Rugby and to help the Springboks win the World Cup,” he told the MyPlayers website.
That would be a dream come true.
Jake White believes the Sharks can win in Christchurch for the second time this season.
The Sharks beat the Highlanders 31-27 at Kings Park on Saturday to set up a semi-final showdown with the Crusaders. While the long plane trip will count against White’s side, he believes they can win in Christchurch on Saturday, having done so earlier in the season when they played most of the match with 14 men.
“It’s an 80-minute run and if we play well we can win, and I have to believe that,” said White.
“The Highlanders flew in from the other side of the world and came within four points of beating us. They came sixth on the log and we came third.”
Frans Steyn has moved into the flyhalf position with Paul Jordaan recovering from injury to take his No 12 jersey in a strong Sharks team.
Director of Rugby Jake White has named a strong side for this derby game, opting to start with a formidable side that has been the hallmark of this team throughout the competition.
Of the injured trio of Paul Jordaan, Pat Lambie and Beast Mtawarira all receiving scans this week to confirm or deny a return to rugby, it was only Jordaan who was passed fit.
He has been included alongside JP Pietersen in the midfield. Steyn takes over from Tim Swiel at flyhalf and Fred Zeilinga has been named as back-up off the bench.
Ryan Kankowski is back at No 8 after withdrawing from last week’s game with a groin strain, and White has bolstered the starting line-up with three Boks who played off the bench last week, Willem Alberts, Jannie du Plessis and brother and captain Bismarck du Plessis.
Cell C Sharks director of rugby Jake White will know later on Tuesday whether he will have the services of the injured trio of Tendai Mtawarira, Patrick Lambie and Paul Jordaan for Saturday’s all important final Vodacom Super Rugby league match against the DHL Stormers at Newlands.
All three players are heading back from injury and are said to now be recovered and rehabilitated, White just has to find out whether they are ready yet to take the field in a big match like the clash with the Stormers is shaping up to be. The status of flyhalf Lambie in particular will be eagerly awaited by not only White but also fans of the Durban franchise, for pivot has been problematic for the Sharks since the Springbok was injured playing against the Bulls in Pretoria in March.
As it is, Lambie has made an excellent recovery, as the initial prognosis was that his torn bicep would keep him out of the rest of the Super Rugby season. However, regardless of whether he is ready for the Newlands clash, it appears he may be ready to play a part in the knock-out games that follow.
Jake White has hinted at a bold strategy to rest his returning Springboks with the Sharks having sewn up the South African conference and guaranteed some play-off rugby already.
The Sharks have an unassailable hold on the South African Conference and cannot finish the tournament any lower than third.
However, the plan is to finish in the top two and earn a direct route to a home semifinal without having to play a qualifying knock-out match.
White has indicated that if they are to really be competitive when it matters, it may require some tactical selection policies.
Lourens Adriaanse (prop) and Stephan Lewies (lock) of the Cell C Sharks have been called up to the Springbok squad in Port Elizabeth, where they face Scotland in the final Test of the Castle Lager Incoming Series on Saturday.
Adriaanse replaces his provincial team-mate Tendai Mtawarira, who sustained an injury to his neck in last Saturday’s 31-30 victory over Wales in Nelspruit.
Lewies comes into the squad for Flip van der Merwe, who injured knee ligaments late in the Welsh Test.
Both Mtawarira and Van der Merwe underwent scans in Port Elizabeth on Monday.
Should they both play on Saturday against the Crusaders, Jannie du Plessis and Tendai Mtawarira will both reach 100 Super Rugby caps for the Sharks.
With hooker Bismarck du Plessis having already achieved the feat, the Sharks front row is one of the most experienced of all time in the competition.
For Jannie du Plessis, it is a dream come true, having grown up supporting the Sharks.
In the first week of discussion of Super Rugby squad contenders for 2014 (23 to 29 December), we will discuss 2 positions in seperate Articles (Props & Hookers) and also seperate the Articles of the 5 SA Super Rugby participating franchises.
That means 10 Super Rugby Articles every week from now on.
The basic idea is to discuss the players IN the Super Rugby Group, and not all the options beyond that.
In this Article we look at the contenders for PROPS in the Cell C Sharks 2014 Super Rugby group, and whether they could force their way into Bok contention.
Springbok forwards Tendai Mtawarira and Eben Etzebeth will feature for the Barbarians against Fiji at Twickenham on 30 November 2013.
Sharks’ coach John Plumtree has revealed that their 6-12 loss to the Cheetahs has come with the added cost of losing prop Tendai (the Beast) Mtawarira for a month amongst others.
Sharks and Springbok prop Tendai ‘Beast’ Mtawarira has been ruled out for up to three months after suffering a shin fracture during a Sharks training session on Friday morning.
The Sharks have confirmed the extension of several prominent players’ contracts ahead of the upcoming Super Rugby season.
PETER LOVE: “The haka in our culture is something which is regarded as special and should not be bastardised by sport.”
De Villiers’ comments attracted over 270 responses on Stuff.co.nz yesterday, with opinion split on whether the haka was overused.