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Player Movements

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Emirates LionsThe Emirates Lions were dealt a setback when it was revealed that lock Martin Muller has been ruled out of Saturday’s Vodacom Super Rugby clash with the Vodacom Bulls at Emirates Airline Park in Johannesburg.

Muller sustained a calf tear during his team’s win over the Reds in Brisbane and will be out of the side for Saturday’s clash.

The news has been tempered with MB Lusaseni’s return to action, while Andries Ferreira is also available.

Also ruled out of the clash is winger Courtnall Skosan, with an ankle injury whilst flyhalf / fullback Jaco van der Walt has a fractured cheekbone.

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Jan Serfontein

Jan Serfontein

Victor Matfield

Victor Matfield

Vodacom Bulls Springboks Victor Matfield and Jan Serfontein will both be rested against the Emirates Lions this week, in accordance with the franchises’ agreement with SARU.

Matfield has started every match for the Bulls this season, bar 1 game where he came off the bench against the Western Force a fortnight ago. Matfield is however nursing a knee injury and might be out for longer than 1 week, maybe even up to a month. Team doctor, Org Strauss confirmed that Victor Matfield is stuggling with the knee, but also said no decision has been made about Matfield’s fitness.

“He has a stiff knee, nothing too serious but we will make a decision later on in the week,” Dr Strauss replied to queries about Matfield’s fitness.

Meanwhile, Serfontein, who was named to play against the Crusaders last week even though he did not train due to a stiff hip flexor, will also earn a ‘rest’.

The Springbok centre failed to pass a late fitness test before the match and was replaced by Burger Odendaal at the 11th hour.

Odendaal was initially set to start his 1st game only for the Vodacom Blue Bulls in the Vodacom Cup after a lengthy injury lay-off for a knee ligament injury, but was thrust straight into Super Rugby in stead.

Odendaal had an impressive return to competitive rugby and it should be expected that he will again take up the No 12 spot, with Serfontein rested.

Meanwhile, another 11th-hour replacement that stepped up to make an indelible impression, Hanro Liebenberg, could again find himself in the starting 15.

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Carel Greeff

Carel Greeff

The Toyota Cheetahs have called up loose forward Carel Greeff as they prepare for their Super Rugby tour match against the Brumbies in Canberra on Saturday.

Greeff, who played for Griquas in the Vodacom Cup at the weekend, will replace Jean Cook.

Cook injured his groin in the warm-up prior to last weekend’s 37 / 27 loss to the Chiefs in Hamilton.

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Laurie Weeks

Laurie Weeks

Laurie Weeks has avoided surgery after injuring his knee in Friday’s loss to the Hurricanes, however the foundation Rebel will be sidelined for 6 to 8 weeks after scans confirmed a fracture of his left tibial plateau.

The news was bitter-sweet for the club, pleased he had avoided a season-ending injury but also disappointed to lose Laurie for an extended period.

“We call Laurie ‘Mr Rebel’,” Head of Athletic Performance Bryce Cavanagh explained. “He is a wonderful, positive influence on the group, and his experience is invaluable; we’ll miss that on the field.

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Jerome Kaino

Jerome Kaino

Inspirational loose forward Jerome Kaino has committed himself for the next 3 years to New Zealand Rugby, the Blues and Auckland Rugby.

Kaino today announced he has re-signed to play his rugby in New Zealand until 2018.

It’s a major announcement for New Zealand Rugby, with Kaino the 1st current All Black to commit through to 2018. The news is also a significant fillip for the Blues following the announcement earlier this year that fellow All Black Charlie Faumuina has re-signed through to the end of 2017.

Kaino, 31, has been a powerhouse loose forward on the international and Super Rugby stage for many years. He was New Zealand Rugby’s Player of the Year and nominee for World Rugby Player in 2011 and played in every game of the All Blacks’ Rugby World Cup victory that year. Kaino played 2 seasons in Japan before returning to play for the Blues last year and regained his place in the All Blacks.

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Schalk Burger receives a Highlanders No 7 jersey after his 100th Super Rugby game

Schalk Burger receives a Highlanders No 7 jersey after his 100th Super Rugby game

DHL Stormers flank Schalk Burger received a special gift from the Highlanders after playing his 100th Super Rugby game.

Burger reached the milestone during the Stormers’ clash with the Highlanders at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin last Saturday.

Despite the Stormers going down 39 / 21, Burger will have fond memories of the occasion.

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Carel du Preez

Carel du Preez

The Springbok Sevens have called up uncapped Carel du Preez to replace injured forward Philip Snyman for the Tokyo Sevens tournament which take place this coming weekend.

The versatile Snyman sustained a knee ligament injury while playing for the Springbok Sevens on Saturday in Hong Kong.

Du Preez is currently contracted to the SA Sevens Academy and he has already played a couple of times for the Academy at tournaments in George, Dubai and Harare.

The tall loose forward represented DHL Western Province in the Under 21 ABSA Currie Cup competition last year and he has impressed the SA Sevens coaching staff since his fulltime switch to the shorter code at the end of last year.

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George EarleSouth African lock, George Earle, has extended his contract with the Scarlets after joining the region from the Cheetahs in 2012.

An experienced player, Earle played previously with the Golden Lions, Western Province, Boland and the Griquas in the Currie Cup.

The lock will become Welsh-qualified in June after being with the Scarlets for 3 years.

Earle was attracted to playing rugby in Wales because of the Welsh style of play, making his Scarlets debut in a pre-season friendly against Narbonne in August 2012.

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Jean Cook

Jean Cook

The Toyota Cheetahs received another injury setback as they look for some redemption on their Vodacom Super Rugby tour of Australasia, with flanker Jean Cook heading home as another casualty of the tough 2 weeks in New Zealand.

The Cheetahs face the Brumbies on Saturday in their 3rd tour game – traditionally the toughest week on tour – and will need to choose a new loose trio again if they are to make any headway and return home with some points.

Cook has a groin injury and has already left for home. He will see a specialist back in Bloemfontein to ascertain the extent of the injury.

But he is the 2nd loose forward in as many weeks to suffer the same injury, after Teboho “Oupa” Mohoje returned home and is out for up to 12 weeks with a similar injury. Mohoje underwent an operation last week to put him back on the road to recovery.

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Nicolás Sánchez

Nicolás Sánchez

Argentina flyhalf Nicolas Sanchez has left European champions Toulon to get ready for his wedding in May and to prepare for the World Cup.

Sanchez joined the French and European champions in October as an injury replacement for Frederic Michalak.

But after the latter returned to action on Saturday in the 34 / 24 defeat at home to Toulouse, Sanchez was no longer available for Top 14 action.

He could have continued to turn out for Toulon in the European Cup – the champions hosts Wasps in the quarterfinals next weekend – but he said he preferred to return home.

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Manu Tuilagi

Manu Tuilagi

England centre Manu Tuilagi is set to miss the rest of the Aviva Premiership season because of a groin injury but should be fit for the World Cup, his Leicester Tigers coach Richard Cockerill said.

The 23-year-old, who has won 25 caps and scored 11 tries for England, is still recovering from the injury he sustained in October.

England’s World Cup campaign begins against Fiji on 18 September, but they play France at home and away in August before hosting Ireland at Twickenham on 5 September.

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TJ Perenara

TJ Perenara

All Blacks scrumhalf TJ Perenara will play his 50th match for the Hurricanes when they face the Rebels in Wellington on Friday.

Perenara made his debut for the ‘Canes against the Stormers in 2012, and has since racked up 105 points for the franchise by way of 21 tries.

The 23-year-old will pair with James Marshall this weekend in what will be the 1st start for the halfback combination, with coach Chris Boyd opting to rest Beauden Barrett.

Also taking a break this week is prop Ben Franks, along with wing Julian Savea, which has allowed Boyd to shuffle his back 3.

Matt Proctor comes in for Savea, while Jason Woodward has been given another start at fullback. Manawatu flyhalf Otere Black will also get his 1st chance for the Hurricanes, should he come off the bench.

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RedsReds coach Richard Graham wasted no time in rushing back a number of Wallaby stars, when he named his side to take on the Emirates Lions in Brisbane on Friday.

There are 6 players returning from injury for the clash.

Quade Cooper, James O’Connor, Samu Kerevi and Lachie Turner will make their return from injury in the starting backline – while props Greg Holmes and Ben Daley have been named on the reserves bench.

Graham commended the players for their efforts since returning from the BYE and said he was pleased to have a selection headache for this week’s match.

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Teboho Mohoje

Teboho Mohoje

The Toyota Cheetahs were given a massive setback Wednesday when their worst fears about the injury to Teboho “Oupa” Mohoje filtered through.

Mohoje tore his groin muscle in the big loss in Christchurch against the Crusaders on Saturday and will need surgery as soon as possible.

The big Springbok flanker has already left the side en route back to Bloemfontein to see a specialist and prepare for the surgery, but the initial diagnosis is that he will be out for at least 8 to 12 weeks.

The Cheetahs have called up Shimlas flanker Tienie Burger to join the side but it is clear Mohoje’s injury has hit them hard.

The Bok is unlikely to play again in this year’s Vodacom Super Rugby competition, although depending on his rehabilitation there is a slight chance he could return to the field for the last 2 games of their campaign… all of which creates another headache for Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer.

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Burger Odendaal

Burger Odendaal

Vodacom Bulls midfielder Burger Odendaal will return to training today after a successful rehabilitation phase on a meniscal knee injury which saw him miss the opening part of the Vodacom Super Rugby season.

Odendaal will find a number of team mates missing on Monday though, as Jan Serfontein (stiff hip flexor), Marcel van der Merwe (contusion)and Dean Greyling (neck) will only return to the training field on Tuesday and Roelof Smit (ankle) and Lappies Labuschagne (nasal fracture) only on Thursday.

Amongst the longer term injuries, Jacques-Louis Potgieter (1 week, hamstring), Flip van der Merwe (pectoral, 2 weeks) and Akona Ndungane (hand, 3 weeks) are a week closer to returning to the fold.

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Tevita Kuridrani

Tevita Kuridrani

The Brumbies have been left with a gap in the midfield following news that destructive outside centre Tevita Kuridrani will be sidelined for 2 months with a shoulder injury.

It is just the second major blow to the Brumbies’ injury list this season.

Scans suggested Kuridrani damaged his AC joint in the 13 / 28 loss to the Waratahs at the weekend.

The skilful Wallaby centre will luckily avoid surgery and that could mark an earlier return to the field if his rehabilitation goes well.

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Dom Shipperley

Dom Shipperley

The Melbourne Rebels will be without winger Dom Shipperley until at least Round 11 in Super Rugby after he fractured his hand playing against the Emirates Lions.

Rebeles winger Shipperley suffered the injury in the Rebels 20 / 16 loss to the Lions at AAMI Park on Friday and will be sidelined for an estimated 4 – 6 weeks.

Shipperley, who was making his 50th Super Rugby appearance, has started all 5 games for the Rebels this season since moving to Melbourne, however he will now be ruled out until at least Round 11 after undergoing surgery.

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Bees RouxFormer Bulls prop Bees Roux has signed for Oyonnax as medical cover for Antoine Guillamon, the Top 14 side announced on Monday.

The 33-year-old Roux played this season with the Lions, having previously lined out for the Leopards (2002 – 2006), the Griquas (2007 – 2008) and Cheetahs (2007).

He also played for French clubs Clermont (2008 – 2009) and Begles-Bordeaux (2011 – 2012) and Italian club Benetton (2012 – 2013).

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Nasi Manu

Nasi Manu

Highlanders co-captain Nasi Manu has signed for Scottish club Edinburgh and will leave at the end of the current Super Rugby season.

Manu has played 53 games for the Highlanders and has been co-captain with Ben Smith for the last 2 seasons.

“Believe me it was a very hard decision to leave the Highlanders, my team mates, my friends and family. This place, this team, it gets under your skin, becomes part of you and I will always treasure my time here” said Manu.

“Obviously I want to go out on a good note and I am keen to finish off my time here really successfully and that’s my focus at the moment.

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Dean Mumm

Dean Mumm

The Waratahs have confirmed the signing of lock Dean Mumm, who will return to the club after 3 years with English Premiership side the Exeter Chiefs.

Mumm, who earned 95 New South Wales caps (including 83 at Super Rugby level), during his time with the Waratahs from 2004 – 2012, has signed a 1-year contract and will return to play in the 2016 Super Rugby season.

Waratahs Rugby CEO Greg Harris said he was extremely pleased to secure the signature of Mumm.

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Ardie Savea

Ardie Savea

Hurricanes flank Ardie Savea will be sidelined for up to 6 weeks after dislocating his finger in Friday’s 20 / 13 win over the Highlanders.

Hurricanes assistant coach Clark Laidlaw said 21-year-old Savea had an operation on Saturday, and would be out for between 3 to 6 weeks.

“He dislocated his finger and it popped out the side, so he had to get it pushed back in and tidied up,” Laidlaw said on Monday.

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Cell C SharksThe Sharks have made only 1 enforced change to their starting line-up that will face the Chiefs on Saturday, as Marco Wentzel comes into the second-row.

Wentzel replaces the injured Pieter-Steph du Toit in an otherwise unchanged 15, with Daniel du Preez and Waylon Murray named on the replacements bench.

“The Chiefs are a championship outfit with outstanding strength and depth and they will go into this match as favourites. They have a strong pack of forwards and one of the most exciting backlines in the competition and are well coached,” said head coach Gary Gold, whose side are looking to back up last weekend’s victory.

“We look forward to the challenge of measuring ourselves against one of the most dangerous sides. It’s going to be an exciting match-up.”

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Vodacom BullsMarcel van der Merwe and Dean Greyling will earn 1st starts in the 2015 Vodacom Super Rugby competition as Vodacom Bulls coach Frans Ludeke made 3 changes to his pack that will face the Western Force at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

Van der Merwe and Greyling, who both made late starts to the competition due to injury, will swop places with Trevor Nyakane and Morné Mellett respectively. In anther swop, Grant Hattingh will earn his 1st start of the season whilst Victor Matfield will move to the bench.

The bench also has 2 new faces this week, with Arno Botha returning and Jaco Visagie replacing the injured Callie Visagie as hooker replacement. Should he take to the field, Visagie will make his Vodacom Bulls and Vodacom Super Rugby debut.

Botha, who was injured in the season’s opener against the DHL Stormers, is fit again and replaces Hanro Liebenberg.

Ludeke left his backs unchanged.

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David Pocock

David Pocock

Wallabies flank David Pocock will return via the Brumbies bench this Sunday when the team travels to Sydney to take on the Waratahs.

Pocock hasn’t featured for the Brumbies since Round 1, but the former Wallabies and Brumbies captain has successfully rehabbed a syndesmosis injury and is the only change in a 23 man-squad named to tackle the reigning champs.

For the 3rd-straight week the Brumbies have named an unchanged starting side.

Head coach Stephen Larkham’s backline has remained consistent since Round 1 and Captain Stephen Moore is back in the driver’s seat for his 3rd straight game as skipper.

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Quade Cooper

Quade Cooper

Reds flyhalf Quade Cooper has revealed he will be available for the team’s next match against the Lions in Round 7 of Super Rugby.

The playmaker has been out with a fracture collarbone that forced him to miss the Reds’ first five games of the season.

Cooper hasn’t been alone on the sidelines for the Reds as a number of key players have been unavailable, with the 26-year-old joined by James O’Connor, Greg Holmes, Samu Kerevi and Beau Robinson among others. All are expected to be available for next weekend.

“For me, I’ve been preparing for this day for a long time,” Cooper said.

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Ricky Januarie

Ricky Januarie

South African scrumhalf Enrico “Ricky” Januarie will play for Top 14 side La Rochelle next season, after signing a 2-year contract.

The 33-year-old, capped 47 times and a member of the 2007 World Cup-winning squad, will join from rivals Lyon.

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FranceYoung Stade Francais flyhalf Jules Plisson has been called up for France’s final Six Nations clash with England on Saturday as coach Philippe Saint-Andre named a 16th different halfback pairing.

Plisson, 23, comes in for injured first-choice No 10 Camille Lopez, who misses the game at Twickenham due to a knee problem.

With Sebastien Tillous-Borde remaining at scrumhalf, it will be the 16th different halfback pairing Saint-Andre has picked in just over 3 years and now 37 matches at the France helm.

Clermont’s Lopez, who has been Saint-Andre’s first-choice playmaker for France’s last 7 internationals dating back to the November Tests, was on Wednesday ruled out for 4 to 6 weeks.

Saint-Andre defended his rotation, saying he had no choice in changing his halfback partnership.

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Vodacom CupVenues as far afield as Secunda, Lichtenburg and Caledon will play host this weekend as the Vodacom Cup picks up speed with action in the South Section getting underway.

The first match in the South Section is on Friday evening is in George, where the SWD Eagles host the Toyota Free State XV.

Three more matches in this section follow on Saturday, one of which will see the defending champions in action when GWK Griquas travel to Port Elizabeth to take on the EP Kings. The other 2 South Section matches are scheduled for Durban (Cell C Sharks XV vs Border Bulldogs) and Caledon (Boland Cavaliers vs DHL Western Province).

The biggest match in the North Section is on Friday afternoon when 2 of the 3 unbeaten sides, the Xerox Golden Lions and the Vodacom Blue Bulls, square off in Johannesburg.

On Saturday, the action in the North Section moves to the platteland, more specifically Lichtenburg (Leopards XV vs Hino Valke) and Secunda (Steval Pumas vs Assupol Limpopo Blue Bulls).

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HurricanesThe Hurricanes will be without hooker Dane Coles for Friday’s Super Rugby clash against the Highlanders but 2 other All Blacks return to the starting 15.

Coles was originally named in the starting for 15 for the game in Dunedin but was withdrawn as a precaution, following Wednesday’s training session with a hyper-extended elbow.

He has been replaced in the run-on side by Motu Matu’u, with Brayden Mitchell coming onto the bench.

There are 3 other changes to the team that beat the Blues last week.

Jeremy Thrush comes back into the starting line-up and will pair with Blade Thomson in what will be his 1st start at lock for 2015, while Cory Jane replaces Matt Proctor on the right wing.

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Duane Vermeulen

Duane Vermeulen

If there was ever a good time for Stormers coach Allister Coetzee to rest captain Duane Vermeulen it is now.

The SA Player of the Year was always going to have to miss the 1st game of the Stormers tour against the Highlanders, having played 5 straight games at the start of the season, but having 4 wins under the belt and plenty of loose forward depth at his disposal does make it easier for Coetzee to give him the time off.

The plan was always to give Vermeulen an extended break with the BYE this week followed by a week off in Dunedin, as part of SARU’s request that top Springboks be given regular games off to manage their workload this season ahead of the World Cup.

Coetzee admitted that it may be tougher to rest Vermeulen when there is more pressure on later in the season, but for now he is happy to stick to the plan.

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Pieter-Steph du Toit

Pieter-Steph du Toit

After emerging from surgery on Tuesday, Pieter-Steph du Toit has suggested that his knee injury may not be season-ending.

It was previously feared that the 22-year-old Sharks flanker would miss the remainder of the Super Rugby season and South Africa’s Rugby World Cup campaign, however the initial prognosis is positive.

“A miracle just happened,” tweeted Du Toit.

“Just got home after surgery, everything went well. Doc said I will be able to play in three months if rehab goes well.”

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Sonny Bill Williams

Sonny Bill Williams

Sonny Bill Williams’ delayed concussion symptoms are giving Chiefs coach Dave Rennie headaches of his own.

Rennie said he will wait until Friday, to give his star centre a shot at playing against the Sharks in Durban on Saturday.

The All Black superstar suffered a head-clash with Stormers prop Vincent Koch last weekend in Cape Town, forcing him to leave the field for a concussion test.

Williams returned to the playing field to complete most of the game, but has been suffering from headaches and showing symptoms of concussion.

For the Chiefs coach, Rennie, there is now a nervous wait to see if Williams can complete the mandatory protocols – in order to be declared fit to face the Sharks in this Super Rugby Round 6 crunch clash.

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Eben Etzebeth

Eben Etzebeth

Jean Kleyn

Jean Kleyn

Springbok lock Eben Etzebeth will not head abroad after this year’s Rugby World Cup, the Western Province Rugby Union has assured.

Reports in French media stated late last year that Etzebeth could join Toulon after the conclusion of this year’s World Cup.

However, Etzebeth is contracted to WP until 2016, which would see him stay in Cape Town until then.

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