JJ Engelbrecht

Xander Janse van Rensburg

Xander Janse van Rensburg

Reports of a mass exodus from the Vodacom Bulls at the end of the season have been rubbished by the franchise.

According to weekend reports a host of Bulls – which include Pierre Spies, Francois Hougaard, Deon Stegmann, Akona Ndungane and JJ Engelbrecht – will head to Japan after the conclusion of the Super Rugby season.

It was billed as the “biggest exodus” since 2013 – when the Bulls lost 20-odd frontline players, including the likes of Juandré Kruger, Wynand Olivier, Morné Steyn, Jano Vermaak, Zane Kirchner, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Dewald Potgieter and Jacques­ Potgieter.

However, Xander Janse van Rensburg, the High Performance Manager at the Blue Bulls Company, said that the facts of the reports are far removed from the truth.

“JJ and Grant have Japan clauses in their contracts,” Janse van Rensburg said, adding that the duo will head to Japan after the Super Rugby season, missing the Currie Cup competition, and will then return for Super Rugby 2016.

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BullsThe Vodacom Bulls took quite a beating on the weekend against a DHL Stormers side who boasted far fewer Springboks and seasoned players than the Bulls.

Nick Mallett talks about how bad the Bulls really were.

JJ Engelbrecht, cited for a dangerous tackle received an off-field Yellow Card – a stern warning not to repeat the type of incident.

Frans Ludeke, Vodacom Bulls coach portrayed his usual diplomatic self… or is that his usual dim-witted self as some would have us believe, when questioned on the Bulls lacklustre performance on the weekend.

The Bulls also released a fitness report today, which reads like a war-veterans hospital checklist, with 3 more injuries, ahead of the Hurricanes clash on Friday evening. The injuries, specially amongst frontrowers are worrying, very worrying seeing as the Bulls scrums have been degenerating at a rate of knots in 2015… well actually for a number of seasons now… and the Bulls Brains Trust, if one could call it that, seems to have no answers to shore up the Bulls scrumming woes.

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BlitzbokkeThe Springbok Sevens’ preparation plans for the next two rounds of the HSBC Sevens World Series have received a boost with the news that Springbok centre JJ Engelbrecht and Junior Springbok fullback Cheslin Kolbe will join the training group from Monday in Stellenbosch.

Successful talks between SARU and several provincial unions have paved the way for a number of Absa Currie Cup players to be released for Springbok Sevens training duty.

Engelbrecht, a contracted Springbok with 12 Test caps, played for the Vodacom Blue Bulls during the recently concluded Absa Currie Cup while Kolbe starred for the DHL Western Province during their successful campaign.

Three more Vodacom Blue Bulls players, Jesse Kriel, Warrick Gelant and Duncan Matthews (all utility backs), will join the training on Monday.

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Marnitz Boshoff

Marnitz Boshoff

Xerox Golden Lions:

Golden Lions head coach Johan Ackermann has named his 22-man side to take on Griquas in a Currie Cup match in Kimberley on Saturday afternoon.

In the forwards, prop Jacques van Rooyen and flank Warwick Tecklenburg will both start the match after moving up from the bench.

Meanwhile, in the backline, Ross Cronje will start at scrumhalf and Howard Mnisi will come in at inside centre.

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South AfricaThe South African Rugby Union (SARU) confirmed on Friday that a group of 17 players had been contracted for the 2014 Springbok season – completing the process earlier than at any time for a number of seasons.

The signing of seven players to new Springbok contracts was completed in the past week to add to the ten players who agreed long-term contracts in 2013. Jurie Roux, CEO of SARU, confirmed that there was scope to contract additional players if the coach wished.

The seven newly-contracted players are Marcell Coetzee (loose forward), JJ Engelbrecht (centre / wing), Francois Hougaard (scrumhalf), Patrick Lambie (flyhalf / fullback), Willie le Roux (fullback / wing), Coenie Oosthuizen (prop) and Flip van der Merwe (lock).

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Vodacom Blue BullsVodacom Blue Bulls coach Pine Pienaar included Springboks JJ Engelbrecht and Jan Serfontein in his backline and promoted loose forward Jacques Engelbrecht to his starting pack for Saturday’s do-or-die Absa Currie Cup clash against the Toyota Free State Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.

The Bok midfield duo will play for the Vodacom Blue Bulls for the first time this season and will replace William Small-Smith and Francois Venter respectively. Small-Smith will move to the Under-21’s and Venter to the bench.

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JJ EngelbrechtCentre JJ Engelbrecht believes he wouldn’t have made the Springbok side had he continued playing his rugby in the Cape.

Engelbrecht will make his run-on debut for the Boks against Italy at Kings Park in Durban on Saturday after coming on as a replacement against Argentina at Newlands last year.

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Vodacom BullsVodacom Bulls coach Frans Ludeke made seven changes to his starting side to play the Blues in Auckland on Sunday in the first of their four match tour.

The starting team shows changes at wing, centre, scrumhalf, loose forward, prop and hooker from the one that had the bonus point win over the Western Force last weekend, with injuries and the return to fitness the main reasons for that.

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