Ruan Pienaar and Dan Tuohy are poised to return for Ulster in Saturday’s European Champions Cup tie against Scarlets at Kingspan Stadium.
Pienaar has not played for Ulster this season having suffered a knee injury playing for South Africa in September.
Tuohy broke his arm during a Pro12 match against Cardiff 10 weeks ago.
“Dan and Ruan both trained the last two days and if there is no reaction, they might potentially be involved at the weekend,” said Ulster coach Neil Doak.
While delighted at the prospect of the pair being involved in the back-to-back fixtures against Scarlets, which Ulster must win to keep alive slim hopes of qualification from Pool 3, Doak is not expecting too much from his returning internationals.
“It’s good to have them back on the paddock but let’s see how they react and come through. We just have to see how Ruan’s knee reacts.”
“It is a different kettle of fish when you are training on your own, but when you get in a team environment and it is twisting and turning, it is live stuff now.
“Hopefully both of them can get in the mix this weekend. To have those experienced players coming back in, it is good to have.”
The Blue Bulls Company (Pty) Ltd on Wednesday confirmed the retirement from rugby by Vodacom Bulls prop Frik Kirsten. The former Junior Springbok player suffered a neck injury in March whilst playing his 34th match for the Vodacom Bulls and underwent surgery after that. Although the surgery proved successful, medical advice was for the 26-year old player not to play rugby again.
Kirsten, who studied B.Comm (Accounting) at the University of Pretoria while playing professional rugby, graduated with an honours degree and will now pursue a career in accounting, hoping to become a chartered accountant.
Xander Janse van Rensburg, High Performance Manager at the Blue Bulls Company, said it was sad to lose a player of Kirsten’s ability, but applauded the fact that the player prepared for a career after rugby while still playing.
Springbok captain Jean de Villiers will require surgery on his injured left knee and will be in a race against time to be fit for the Rugby World Cup in England in 2015.
De Villiers left the field in the 58th minute of the Springboks’ final Test of the season, last Saturday against Wales in Cardiff, after twisting his left knee and dislocating his knee cap.
Scans shortly after the match revealed significant ligament damage to the knee. De Villiers returned to South Africa on Monday and was assessed by an orthopaedic surgeon in Cape Town, who advised that the Springbok captain requires surgical reconstruction of the knee.
South Africa suffered a big blow when Springbok captain Jean de Villiers was injured during their 12-6 defeat to Wales at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff on Saturday.
De Villiers was forced to leave the field in the 58th minute after twisting his left knee and dislocating his knee cap. The dislocation was reduced on the field and he was sent for scans shortly after the match.
“The scans revealed significant ligament damage to the inside of his knee and the supporting muscles,” said Springbok team doctor Craig Roberts.
“Jean will return to South Africa and see an orthopaedic specialist in Cape Town early in the week. He has had previous surgery on this knee and the further management of the injury is dependent upon the specialist’s recommendations.”
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer said losing De Villiers was a massive setback as the team were just beginning to build momentum in a tough encounter against Wales. The home team’s points came via four Leigh Halfpenny penalty goals, while Pat Lambie responded with two penalty goals for the visitors.
“It was a massively disappointing way to end the tour and our season, as we always strive to make our country proud,” said Meyer.
Edinburgh head coach Alan Solomons believes that his squad has got through the worst of an injury crisis which threatened to engulf the team just a few short weeks ago.
Edinburgh flew to Milan yesterday then took a 75-mile bus ride to Parma, ahead of facing Guinness Pro12 strugglers Zebre at the Stadio XXV Aprile tomorrow afternoon.
It may have been an arduous trip but Solomons was in good fettle – despite Edinburgh still being without several leading players, including Grant Gilchrist (broken arm), Hamish Watson (knee) and Cornell du Preez, who is set to miss the rest of the season with a leg injury.
Solomons said that the Autumn Tests came at just the right time for other leading players to recover and he is excited about his team’s chances of climbing into the top six of the Pro 12 table, which would qualify them for the Champions Cup next season.
Edinburgh returned to action in fine style last Sunday when they defeated Cardiff Blues at home, and they will fancy their chances against a Zebre side which was hammered 43-3 by Connacht on Friday night.
Xerox Golden Lions scrumhalf Ross Cronje has been called up to the Springbok tour squad in Cardiff as replacement for Rudy Paige.
Paige injured his medial knee ligaments in training earlier this week and will be out for approximately four weeks.
A request was made for Toulouse scrumhalf Jano Vermaak to rejoin the squad but it was rejected as he is playing for his club this weekend.
Bath’s cross-code signing Sam Burgess has been named on the bench for Friday’s Premiership game against Harlequins at The Rec. The 25-year-old arrived in the West Country a month ago but only recently resumed training after fracturing a cheekbone in his final rugby league game for South Sydney Rabbitohs. Coach Mike Ford has said Burgess is likely to come on at centre.
Quins, meanwhile, hand a start to Danny Care at scrum-half. Care, who was on the bench for the defeat by Sale last week, has been released from the England squad after again failing to make the cut for the final autumn international against Australia on Saturday.
Bath backs Semesa Rokoduguni and Kyle Eastmond will also start on Friday after falling out of Stuart Lancaster’s plans.
A win over Quins will see The Rec outfit move to the top of the Premiership table, but all the attention is likely to be on Burgess’s imminent union debut.
Ireland flank Chris Henry has had an operation to repair a defect on his heart wall after a temporary blockage was discovered in a small blood vessel in his brain.
The defect was found to be related to the blockage, which was discovered before Ireland’s victory over South Africa on 8 November.
Henry was withdrawn from the starting lineup on the morning of the South Africa match with a suspected viral illness that was initially diagnosed as a severe migraine.
Tevita Kuridrani has been ruled out of Saturday’s match against England at Twickenham with an ankle injury.
The in-form Wallabies centre picked up the injury early in the second half of their 26-23 defeat to Ireland. Tests on Monday revealed a low grade tear, meaning Kuridrani won’t be available for the match against England, although he should be clear by the time Super Rugby rolls around.
The Bulls were dealt a cruel blow just days into their pre-season, with confirmation that Springbok Flip van der Merwe is set to miss the start of the 2015 season.
Bulls coach Frans Ludeke, confirmed that Van der Merwe will undergo surgery next Tuesday after damaging his pectoral muscle.
“It was a freak accident,” Ludeke said, when asked about the burly lock that was ruled out for the latter half of 2014 after suffering a serious knee injury during the second Springbok Test against Wales in June.
Head coach Vern Cotter has made four injury-enforced changes to the starting Scotland team that will play Tonga in this Saturday’s historic viagogo Autumn Test match at Rugby Park, Kilmarnock (kick-off 14:30 BST & GMT, 16:30 SA Time).
The national team are continuing their trend of taking international rugby to pastures new in a globally ground-breaking fixture, as an international involving a Tier One country is held on an entirely artificial pitch for the first time.
The team’s alterations are split evenly between the forwards and backs, with tight-head prop Geoff Cross and number 8 Johnnie Beattie stepping into the pack for Euan Murray and Adam Ashe, who miss out through thigh and neck injuries respectively.
In the backs, 90-cap Glasgow Warrior Sean Lamont, who came on in the 13th minute against New Zealand as an injury replacement for club-mate Mark Bennett (hamstring), retains his place in midfield.
The final change sees Edinburgh Rugby’s free-scoring winger Tim Visser set to make his first appearance since the summer tour in place of injured Warrior Sean Maitland (hamstring).
Francois Louw says he had been carrying “for years” an underlying neck problem that forced him to have surgery in September.
A pinched nerve caused by a slipped disk resulted in the 34-cap Springbok having an operation on 22 September.
The injury has forced the flank to miss the year-end internationals and Louw is still unable to put a firm date on his return for club side Bath, although he says a December “would be fantastic”.
The Warriors have confirmed that Mark Bennett will be out for in the region of 12 weeks with a hamstring injury.
The centre, who was injured during Scotland’s defeat to New Zealand on Saturday, was assessed at Ross Hall Hospital in Glasgow.
He does not require surgery and will now undergo a period of rehabiitation.
The Springboks on Monday received welcome news with fullback Willie le Roux cleared of any fractures after undergoing a scan.
Le Roux picked up a cheekbone injury in last Saturday’s 31-28 win over England at Twickenham.
His participation for this Saturday’s Test against Italy in Padova was still in doubt when he went for a scan on Monday.
Ireland’s Chris Henry missed the recent win over South Africa with a brain injury, rather than a migraine, the Irish Rugby Football Union announced Monday.
Team medical staff initially diagnosed a virus on the morning of the 8 November match, against the Springboks, before suspecting a severe migraine.
However, specialists have since determined that “a temporary blockage of a small blood vessel in his brain” forced 30-year-old Ulster flank Henry to miss Ireland’s surprise 29-15 victory over the Springboks.
“Chris Henry suffered some weakness on the morning of the South Africa game and a viral illness was suspected, he recovered quickly and the initial diagnosis was of severe migraine,” read the IRFU statement.
The Springboks have two main injury concerns following their bruising 31-28 victory over England at Twickenham on Saturday.
Prop Jannie Du Plessis hobbled off in the 64th minute of the game after he went down awkwardly at the breakdown, which team doctor Craig Roberts is currently investigating.
“Jannie hyper-extended his knee in a ruck and was caught quite awkwardly. His foot got stuck in the ground and couldn’t bend his knee which ended up overstretching his hamstring and hyper-extending his knee.
New Zealand will be without forward Victor Vito for the final match of their Northern Hemisphere tour after he returned home through injury.
The loose forwatd suffered a calf problem before half-time against Scotland at Murrayfield on Saturday, and was forced to watch the second period from the sidelines as the All Blacks ran out 24-16 winners.
Vito had started the match well, crossing in the ninth minute to register his third international try.
Prop forwards Quintin Esterhuyzen and Shaun de Preez have been called up as replacements to join the Namibian team in Carcavelos, Portugal, ahead of Namibia’s final match of their Northern Hemisphere tour.
The pair will join the team later this week as cover after loosehead Jaco Engels injured a hamstring in the match against the French Barbarians.
Engels is undergoing medical treatment and his recovery will be monitored, while the other regular Namibian props Johnnie Redelinghuys and Andrè Schlechter returned home due to personal commitments.
Golden Lions prop Ruan Dreyer has been called up to the Springbok squad as injury cover for Jannie du Plessis.
Dreyer will join the squad in Italy as soon as his travel arrangements have been made.
Du Plessis left the field during the Springboks’ 31-28 victory over England at Twickenham on Saturday.
Semesa Rokoduguni is out of England’s international against South Africa at Twickenham on Saturday, with Marland Yarde replacing the Bath wing in the squad, head coach Stuart Lancaster announced on Tuesday.
Rokoduguni, who made his debut in last week’s 24-21 defeat by New Zealand, injured his thigh and Lancaster believes there is not enough time for him to recover to face the Springboks.
That is the only change to the 23 players selected to face the All Blacks, although James Haskell is added to the squad as cover for Tom Wood, who was unable to take a full part in Tuesday’s training.
Argentina will be without their captain Agustín Creevy for the clash with Italy after the hooker sustained a thigh injury.
After leaving the field after just 20 minutes in the Pumas 31-41 loss to Scotland on the weekend, it now looks set that the hooker will not recover in time.
Creevy, who took over the Argentinean captaincy this year, underwent medical tests where it was revealed that he had suffered a grade one tear of his thigh.
Gloucester flyhalf James Hook was called into Wales’s squad for their remaining November internationals on Sunday after fellow No 10 Dan Biggar suffered a groin strain in the 33-28 defeat by Australia.
The 29-year-old Hook has won 76 caps but has rarely enjoyed the full confidence of Wales coach Warren Gatland, with the New Zealander seemingly mistrustful of the playmaker’s talent.
Meanwhile Hook’s versatility – he has also played Test rugby at fullback and centre – has proved as much a hindrance as a help in establishing himself as a first-choice plyer while Gatland has been in charge of Wales.
However, Biggar’s injury means Hook could be called upon for the Millennium Stadium clash with Fiji on Saturday.
“Hook will link up with the squad tomorrow (Monday) when they gather to prepare for Saturday’s clash against Fiji,” said a Welsh Rugby Union statement issued Sunday.
“No players have been released from the squad.”
All Blacks centre Conrad Smith will skip Saturday’s Test against Scotland so he can return home to deal with a family matter, reports said Monday.
Coach Steve Hansen said “the 33-year-old Smith, who played his 84th test on Saturday and became a father for the first time in August, would miss the Test in Edinburgh.
However, he will again return in time for the Test against Wales on 22 November.
“It’s not overly serious but it’s serious enough for him to have to go home,” Hansen told reporters.
Ireland coach Joe Schmidt woke up to headlines singing his praises after he masterminded a superb 29-15 victory over Southern Hemisphere heavyweights South Africa at the weekend.
The 49-year-old New Zealander – who in his maiden Six Nations campaign guided the Irish to the title earlier this year – has proved a master at preparing the team for different challenges, wrote former Ireland lock turned journalist Neil Francis in the Sunday Independent.
“He may have the air of a headmaster but with the conscience of a rattlesnake his team was a personification of their head coach’s mindset,” wrote the 50-year-old Francis, who was capped 36 times.
Western Province hooker Siyabonga “Scarra” Ntubeni has been called up to the South African touring squad in place of the injured Robbie Coetzee.
It will be Ntubeni’s second stint withy the natiobnal team, as he was a Springbok tourist in November last year – without getting a cap.
Ntubeni, who is currently in London with Province, will join the Bok squad in the English capital after their match against Saracens on Sunday.
Coetzee will return to South Africa in the coming days.
New Zealand’s build-up to their Test encounter with England on Saturday has not gone as smoothly as they would have hoped.
Flank Sam Cane has become the latest injury concern in a camp already scrambling to cover some setbacks.
Cane took a heavy knock in a body on body collision at training on Tuesday and received assistance on what looked to be his back or shoulder.
Cane started in last Saturday’s 74-6 win over the United States, but is unlikely to feature in the match against England this weekend.
Wyatt Crockett and Jerome Kaino, who are recovering from shin and foot injuries respectively, both came through training unscathed.
The latest setback comes after both wing Cory Jane and hooker Nathan Harris were ruled out of the tour after being injured against the US Eagles.
Ruan Pienaar has been ruled out of the year-end tour because of a knee ligament injury and he will be replaced by Jano Vermaak.
Pienaar picked up the injury in the Springboks’ Test against New Zealand in Wellington in September and has been out of action since then.
“Ruan was re-assessed on Tuesday following the on-field fitness tests from Monday, and unfortunately he has developed some swelling and puffiness around the knee, indicating that he is not yet ready to partake in full training and playing in a match,” said Springbok team doctor Craig Roberts.
“He needs a few more weeks of rehabilitation before he’ll be ready to return to play and hence we’ve taken the decision to rule him out of the tour.”
A bright sunshiny but chilly day greeted the Springboks when they arrived in Dublin on Sunday, where they kick off the Castle Lager Outgoing Tour against Ireland this weekend.
The South Africans left Johannesburg last night and travelled via London Heathrow to the Irish capital for their first visit to this part of the world in two years.
Eben Etzebeth stayed behind in South Africa and will join the squad on Tuesday following a family bereavement, while there will be more clarity on Ruan Pienaar’s fitness situation in the week.
As England’s injuries continue to stack up ahead of Saturday’s game with world champions New Zealand, coach Stuart Lancaster says his side have been the victims of “bad luck” after the loss of several forwards.
With regular forwards Alex Corbisiero, Mako Vunipola, Tom Youngs, Dan Cole and Geoff Parling already out of this month’s Test matches, second row Joe Launchbury has become the latest to withdraw due to a neck problem.
Northampton backs Luther Burrell and Stephen Myler have also been ruled out of the Twickenham match against the All Blacks.
Irish flyhalf Johnny Sexton looks set to make a full recovery in time to face the Springboks in Dublin on Saturday, after suffering a thigh injury in Racing Metro’s match against Oyonnax last weekend.
Sexton was forced from the field in the Top 14 game, with Metro’s coach Laurent Labit describing his injury as a ‘tweak’.
However, Ireland team manager Mick Kearney dismissed concerns and said the playmaker would be available on Saturday.
“It was intended that Johnny Sexton would only play a portion of the game for Racing on Saturday so he played 40 minutes and he came off,” said Kearney.
Western Province hooker Tiaan Liebenberg has been forced to retire after being plagued by back injuries for some time now.
The 32-year-old will be returning to Bloemfontein to join up with his family and to get involved with the business.
The hooker was a mere spectator during Western Province’s 19-16 Currie Cup victory over the Lions on Saturday and although the veteran has reached some lofty heights in rugby, he was still sad not to be a part of it.
Edinburgh Rugby secured their second successive victory in the European Rugby Challenge Cup, beating Lyon 25-17 at BT Murrayfield, after numerous injury setbacks and losing five players in the opening quarter.
Coach Alan Solomons afterwards praised the character of his Edinburgh side, who came through adversity to record a morale-boosting victory.
“This actually tops it [last week’s win at Bordeaux]. To lose five players like that – in 37 years, I’ve never seen anything like it – speaks volumes for the strength of character of this side.”
DHL Western Province’s injury concerns have improved ahead of their Currie Cup Final against the Xerox Golden Lions at Newlands in Cape Town on Saturday.
Eighthman Nizaam Carr, who cried off with a hip injury midway through the first half of the Semi-Final clash against the Vodacom Blue Bulls last Saturday was walking comfortably on Monday afternoon.
Centre / fullback Jaco Taute was running without discomfort after he was forced to miss the Semi-Final because of a rib injury and was tested in a contact session on Tuesday.
Western Province coach Allister Coetzee said it was pleasing to read the team’s latest medical report because the wider training squad had been given a clean bill of health.
“Nemo (Carr) is feeling much better and is walking with ease,” Coetzee said.
The Springboks were dealt a double blow on Monday, when first Saracens hooker Schalk Brits and then Blue Bulls tighthead prop Marcel van der Merwe was ruled out of the End Of Year Tour (November Internationals) with a knee injury.
Van der Merwe was supposed to join up with the Bok training camp this week but hurt himself in the dying minutes of the Vodacom Blue Bulls loss in the ABSA Currie Cup semifinal against DHL Western Province on Saturday, and will miss the next four to six weeks of rugby with a medial knee ligament injury.
“He fell awkwardly in the last few minutes of the game,” Blue Bulls doctor Org Strauss said, “He has a grade 2 medial ligament tear, luckily not the same knee that has given him problems in the past, I expect him to be out for anywhere between four and six weeks.”
The Vodacom Bulls are likely to lose the services of hooker Callie Visagie for the first few weeks of the 2015 season as he underwent shoulder surgery Tuesday in Pretoria.
With the 2014 season having come to an end, Visagie and lock Grant Hattingh are the two medical headaches for the Bulls. The surgery, in both cases is to rectify injuries that have plagued them the entire season.