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Beast Mtawarira

Tendai 'Beast' Mtawarira

Tendai ‘Beast’ Mtawarira

The Cell C Sharks will end their 4 match tour of New Zealand and Australia on Friday when they take on the Reds at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane with singular purpose in mind.

Both sides have not enjoyed the kinds of seasons their players, coaches and supporters expected at the start of the season, but for some bad luck and a host of injuries in key positions, perhaps their respective campaigns might have been different.

“You look at the players in their team – Slipper, Horwell, Genia, Turner, O’Connor – these are really good rugby players, highly experienced internationals and this is a team going through a similar season to us,” explains Cell C Sharks Director of Rugby Gary Gold.

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Gary Gold

Gary Gold

Cell C Sharks boss Gary Gold admitted the pressure is mounting for his team, currently on a record 6-match losing streak.

The Durban-based franchise, who take on the Reds in Brisbane on Saturday, have only once before lost 6 straight matches – in 2000.

Director of Rugby, Gold, is adamant his charges can avoid the ignominy of a 7th straight defeat.

He said it is “critically important” that they finish off their Australasian tour with a win.

“We had a shocking 1st week against the Highlanders, then 2 good performances against the Hurricanes and Waratahs, where we weren’t on the right side of the scoreboard,” Gold said from the team’s base in Brisbane.

The Reds, who are 4 places (14th) and 5 points (16 to 21) below the Sharks, bounced back from their own horror run with a 46 / 29 win over the Melbourne Rebels last week.

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Cell C SharksThe Cell C Sharks team named to play the Vodacom Bulls on Saturday shows nominal changes to the side that was picked last weekend, with 2 Springbok additions.

The only changes to the starting 15 are in a front row that this week features the Springbok prop duo of Jannie du Plessis and Beast Mtawarira, who return after an enforced rest last week as part of the agreement with the Springboks to provide regular breaks to the players.

Marco Wentzel retains the captaincy of a side that will look to build from the positives they took out of their clash with the Lions last weekend. The backline remains unchanged.

With the prospect of facing the Highlanders and Hurricanes in New Zealand and the Waratahs and Reds in Australia before returning to Durban for 2 final home games, Saturday’s derby against the Bulls comes at a vital time.

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Tendai 'Beast' Mtawarira

Tendai ‘Beast’ Mtawarira

Jannie du Plessis

Jannie du Plessis

The return of the 2 experienced Springbok props, Beast Mtawarira and Jannie du Plessis, are the only things that the Vodacom Bulls should take for granted about the Cell C Sharks team they will clash with in their Super Rugby derby in Durban at the weekend.

The Sharks did not train on Monday, as was the case the previous week, and at Tuesday’s training session those who watched it struggled to make out what director of rugby Gary Gold is planning for Saturday – except that the 2 Bok props will definitely be back.

No 8 Ryan Kankowski missed last week’s clash with the Emirates Lions in Johannesburg after pulling out following the captain’s practice. He is fit to face the Bulls but apparently he and Renaldo Bothma, who played at No 8 against the Lions and did well there, rotated during the training session. It is also not clear if JP Pietersen, the other fit Bok to miss the Lions clash, will be back in the starting team.

What does appear clear is that hooker Kyle Cooper and fullback SP Marais, 2 stalwart foot soldiers at the Sharks over the past few seasons, have fallen out of favour. Even though Bismarck du Plessis is out suspended and will be for another week, Cooper did not feature in the match day 23 last week – and it looks like he will miss out again for the Bulls.

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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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Cell C SharksGood news appears to suddenly be coming in clusters for the Cell C Sharks, who have followed on from their opening Vodacom Super Rugby win against the Emirates Lions with what for director of rugby Gary Gold will be a pleasing wave of important players returning to the mix.

On Sunday morning, the day after his team scored what he called a “relieving” win over the Lions, Gold received the news that the 2 Japanese clubs that backline kingpins JP Pietersen and Frans Steyn play for were both knocked out of their competition this past weekend. That means they will be back sooner rather than later, and will probably be available for the crucial game against the Stormers in Cape Town the week after next.

“I suppose it’s not nice for those players to lose but it is good news for us,” grinned Gold.

Then on Monday a man that Gold would really like to see in action as soon as possible as he is such an important cog in the forward machine, Willem Alberts, took part in full training for the first time. He could also be ready for the Stormers game.

Also at the 2-hour middle of the day training session on a Kings Park outerfield was Ryan Kankowski. The former Springbok No 8 is now into his 2nd week back from Japan and will be available for Saturday’s clash with the Vodacom Bulls at Loftus.

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Tendai 'Beast' Mtawarira

Tendai ‘Beast’ Mtawarira

The Sharks suffered a major injury scare on Saturday when Tendai Mtawarira left the field in pain, with the early diagnosis indicating a severe injury.

However, after undergoing scans on Monday, a calf tear was downgraded to a calf strain and although he will not be considered for selection for a few weeks, this does not constitute a long term injury.

“Losing an international is a big loss to any team, obviously we aren’t happy about losing Tendai, but there’s nothing we can do, we have to move on,” said assistant coach Sean Everitt.

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Tendai 'Beast Mtawarira

Tendai ‘Beast Mtawarira

Lodewyk De Jager

Lodewyk de Jager

Bismarck du Plessis

Bismarck du Plessis

We are just 1 week into the Super Rugby season and there is already a lengthy list of Springboks sidelined by injury.

With captain Jean de Villiers a non-starter thanks to a knee injury which has put a question mark over his availability for the World Cup, he has been joined by Eben Etzebeth, Bismarck du Plessis, Tendai Mtawarira, Lodewyk de Jager amd Julian Redelinghuys.

Etzebeth hurt his chest in a warm-up game against the Cheetahs at Newlands, and is only expected back in the 3rd round – the 3rd consecutive year he has missed the start of the competition.

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Cell C SharksIn the first week of discussion of Super Rugby squad contenders for 2015 (17 to 24 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 2015 Super Rugby group, and whether they could force their way into Bok contention.

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Jannie du Plessis & Tendai Mtawarira

Jannie du Plessis & Tendai ‘Beast’ Mtawarira

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.

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Craig Roberts

Dr Craig Roberts

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.

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Tendai Mtawarira

Beast Mtawarira: Feels privileged to play with the Du Plessis brothers

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.

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Anton Bresler

The Sharks travelled to New Zealand without Anton Bresler, who suffered broken ribs against the Highlanders

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.”

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Francois Steyn - Cell C Sharks

Francois Steyn back at No 10 for the Cell C Sharks

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.

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Tendai 'Beast'Mtawarira

Tendai ‘Beast’Mtawarira

Patrick Lambie

Patrick Lambie

Paul Jordaan

Paul Jordaan

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.

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Jake White

Jake White

Cell C SharksJake 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.

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Lourens Adriaanse

Lourens Adriaanse

Stephan Lewies

Stephan Lewies

Flip van der Merwe

Flip van der Merwe

Tendai 'Beast' Mtawarira

Tendai ‘Beast’ Mtawarira

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.

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Jannie du PlessisTendai MtawariraCell C SharksShould 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.

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SharksIn 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.

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A Maori leader has backed Springbok coach Peter de Villiers’ comments on the haka being overused, saying it has been “hijacked by rugby people” for commercial purposes.

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.

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