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Player Movements

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Francois Louw

Six weeks out: Francois Louw

Springbok flanker Francois Louw underwent surgery on Monday after he injured his neck in the Rugby Championship Test against New Zealand in Wellington.

Team doctor Craig Roberts told reporters in Cape Town on Monday that Louw had suffered a pinched nerve in his neck, and would be sidelined for about six weeks.

“Francois initially took a knock to his head, and the scans showed damage to a nerve in his neck. He has had surgery today on the (affected) disc and that should relieve the pressure (on the nerve),” said Roberts.

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Tom Taylor

CALLED UP: Tom Taylor gets another shot with the All Blacks after Aaron Cruden was left out of the team following a boozy incident.

Canterbury’s Tom Taylor has been called into the All Blacks after Aaron Cruden was dropped following his boozy night out in Auckland.

Taylor made a composed starting test debut against the Wallabies in Wellington at first five-eighth last year, kicking four penalties and a conversion in the 27-16 win.

He will provide back-up to Beauden Barrett and Colin Slade in the pivotal role over the next two weeks as the All Blacks attempt to secure their third straight Rugby Championship title in La Plata and Johannesburg.

Taylor last played for the All Blacks in November in the 54-6 rout of Japan in Tokyo and has since struggled for form this season, being used in almost every position in the backline by the Crusaders.

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Quade Cooper

Quade Cooper

Injured Queensland Reds and Wallabies fly half Quade Cooper sat down with Chris Garry last week to discuss a dramatic year for his code and club.

Cooper reveals how he helped lure the brightest talent in world rugby, Taniela “Tongan Thor” Tupou, from the clutches of the All Blacks to the Reds, why Queensland should have hit the player market hard following their Super Rugby triumph in 2011, when he will return from injury … and predicts Karmichael Hunt will make the Wallabies’ World Cup squad.

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Rory Kockott

Rory Kockott

France head coach Philippe Saint-André has named five uncapped players in his squad for November’s Tests, with Rory Kockott included.

Props Uini Atonio and Xavier Chiocci, back-row Charles Ollivon and wing Teddy Thomas are the new players joining Kockott in the Les Bleus mix.

Kockott is one of just two scrum-halves in the group, joining Sébastien Tillous-Borde while Camille Lopez, Remi Tales and François Trinh-Duc are the 10 options available to Saint-André.

Saint-André has dispensed with the services of loosehead Thomas Domingo and back-row forwards Antonie Claassen and Fulgence Ouedraogo while Maxime Machenaud, Dimitri Szarzewski and Morgan Parra also miss out.

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Bryan Habana

Bryan Habana

Currently away with the Springboks, Bryan Habana hasn’t been distracted by the outlandish statements of Mourad Boudjellal at Toulon.

Habana will be in line for his 102nd cap against the Wallabies in Cape Town next weekend, but the Toulon owner earlier this week demanded that Habana along with Bakkies Botha and Argentina’s Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe return to play for their club.

Perhaps Habana wasn’t distracted because those kind of outbursts from Boudjellal aren’t new. In the same week he also raised the possibility of cancelling Leigh Halfpenny’s contract.

“It’s not up to me to decide on going back. We have the right lines of communication. SA Rugby have been working hard behind the scenes to address the rumours that have been going around this week,” Habana exclusively told Planet Rugby.

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Nick Cummins

Baabaa boy … Nick Cummins will play against the Wallabies.

The Wallabies are set to face one of their own at Twickenham after Nick Cummins agreed to wear the black and white of the Barbarians against Australia in November.

Little more than two months after he left Australia for Japan’s Top League, Cummins has agreed to play for the invitational side in the November 1 fixture that kicks off the Wallabies five-week spring tour of Europe, his manager said.

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Deon Stegmann

Deon Stegmann has received a 1 week ban for foul play.

Blue Bulls captain and flank Deon Stegmann was suspended for 1 week on Wednesday for striking a player with his elbow in their Currie Cup Premier Division clash against the EP Kings last Friday.

His Blue Bulls team mate, hooker Bongi Mbonambi, meanwhile, was cleared of further sanction after receiving a Yellow Card in the match for charging into a ruck without using his arms.

Stegmann and Mbonambi both appeared before a SARU judicial committee in Pretoria on Tuesday after being sent to the sin-bin in their clash in Port Elizabeth.

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Schalk Burger

Schalk Burger

Experienced and versatile loose forward Schalk Burger has been called up to the Springbok squad for the final two Tests in the Rugby Championship for the injured Francois Louw.

Burger, capped 71 times for the Springboks, will play for his Japanese club, Suntory, on Friday and join the squad in Cape Town as soon as possible thereafter.

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Lwazi Mvovo

Lwazi Mvovo

Following an agreement between the South African Rugby Union (SARU) and the provincial unions, wing Lwazi Mvovo has been released to play in the Currie Cup for the Cell C Sharks this weekend.

Mvovo will train with the Sharks this week and join the Springbok squad in Cape Town on Sunday evening.

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Leigh Halfpenny

Leigh Halfpenny

Cardiff Blues and Ospreys are interested in signing Leigh Halfpenny if his Toulon contract is terminated.

Toulon president Mourad Boudjellal says Halfpenny’s ongoing injuries could lead to his departure without playing a game since arriving for 2014-15.

Blues director and Wales legend Gareth Edwards said: “We’d welcome him with open arms.”

Ospreys coach Steve Tandy said: “We’d always be interested in the quality of Halfpenny, but it’s paper talk.”

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Jimmy Cowan

SOUTHERN MAN: He may be from Southland, but Jimmy Cowan will ply his trade from Auckland next year in Super Rugby.

The Blues have confirmed the signing of former All Blacks halfback Jimmy Cowan for next season.

Cowan played 51 tests for the All Blacks and 108 games for the Highlanders before a two-year stint with English club Gloucester.

The 32-year-old, who was playing for Tasman in the NPC, would fill the void left by Piri Weepu’s departure and compete with incumbent Bryn Hall.

“Jimmy brings competitiveness, plenty of experience and great game awareness which is something we were really looking for,” Blues coach Sir John Kirwan said.

“We’ve got some good young guys coming through in Bryn Hall, Ihaia West and Simon Hickey coupled with Dan Bowden coming back but we still felt we were lacking a bit of experience through that combination.

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Francois Louw

Francois Louw injury: massive loss for the Springboks

Springbok flank Francois Louw has been ruled out of the remainder of the Rugby Championship with a pinched nerve in his neck.

He picked up the injury during last Saturday’s Test against New Zealand in Wellington and the extent of the injury was confirmed after Louw went for scans and saw a specialist in Durban on Tuesday.

According to Springbok team doctor Craig Roberts, Louw will be out of action for approximately eight weeks and may be fit for South Africa’s November tour to Europe.

A decision on a replacement for Louw in the 30-man Springbok squad will be made in the coming day or two.

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Henry Speight

The Australian government has granted Henry Speight’s family visitor visas to watch him play rugby.

Brumbies cult hero Henry Speight has vowed to “give everything I’ve got” to help the Wallabies become an international powerhouse after the Australian government ended years of heartache by granting his family visitor visas.

Fijian-born Speight’s five siblings were reunited for the first time in seven years on the weekend, with Davila and Jerry allowed into the country just days after Speight became eligible to play for Australia.

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OlympicsAny 120kg prop hoping to disguise himself as a rugby sevens speedster in a bid to secure a switch of nationalities for the 15-man game should think again after the sport’s governing body said on Monday it will be alert to such underhand dealings.

The International Rugby Board (IRB) says it is confident it will sniff out any dubious attempts to use Olympic sevens qualification matches to secure a shift in nationalities for the 15-man game – and that their system has the full backing of the IOC.

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Siya Kolisi

Siya Kolisi

Springbok flank Siya Kolisi will be out for at least four weeks after hurting both of his knees in Western Province’s 35-33 Currie Cup loss to the Golden Lions in Johannesburg at the weekend.

The defeat, which included a losing bonus point, was WP’s first loss of the 2014 Currie Cup season, but it has come at a cost for the 2012 champions.

According to WP’s official website, Kolisi suffered a torn Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) in both of his knees and is now in a race against the clock to be back for the Currie Cup playoffs.

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Deon Stegmann

Deon Stegmann is to appear in front of a judiciary.

Vodacom Blue Bulls captain and flank, Deon Stegmann, and hooker Bongi Mbonambi will face SARU disciplinary hearings on Tuesday after being cited following the team’s Currie Cup Premier Division clash against the EP Kings in Port Elizabeth on Friday.

Stegmann, received a Red Card for striking a player with his elbow at a ruck in the 69th minute, which was in breach of Law 10.4 (a), while Mbonambi received a Yellow Card in the 12th minute for charging into a ruck dangerously, which contravened Law 10.4 (h).

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Ma'a Nonu

TOUGH BREAK: All Blacks inside centre Ma’a Nonu won’t be sighted on a rugby field again until next year after breaking his arm against the Springboks on Saturday night.

Ma’a Nonu didn’t win the respect and admiration of his South African opposite Jean de Villiers with a big tackle or a crunching run.

The All Blacks second five-eighth saved his classiest moment for the quiet of the changing room where doctors surveyed his broken forearm at halftime during Saturday’s Rugby Championship match at Westpac Stadium.

Nonu’s test, and season, were over, a steel plate inserted in his arm yesterday morning, but as the ambulance doors swung open to take the 32-year-old across town to Wellington Hospital, Nonu thought not of his misfortune and considerable pain.

Instead, he pulled off his No 12 jersey and instructed his handlers to take it to the opposition changing room where it could be collected by de Villiers after he completed his 100th test for the Springboks.

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Ma'a Nonu

Out until next year: Ma’a Nonu

All Blacks center Ma’a Nonu will not play rugby again in 2014 after undergoing surgery on a broken arm sustained against South Africa on Saturday.

Nonu suffered the injury in the first half of the 14-10 win over the Springboks in Wellington and was replaced at halftime but only after having played for nine minutes after suffering the injury when tackling opposite number Jean de Villiers.

The injury means Nonu will miss New Zealand’s remaining Rugby Championship matches against Argentina in La Plata in a fortnight and South Africa in Johannesburg on October 5. He has also been ruled out of New Zealand’s November tour to the United States and Britain.

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Ruan Pienaar

Ruan Pienaar

Springbok scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar will miss the rest of the Rugby Championship after suffering a knee ligament injury in the 14-10 defeat to the All Blacks in Wellington.

Pienaar was carried from the field in the 36th minute after a swinging leg from team-mate Duane Vermeulen connected with his leg.

Team doctor Craig Roberts confirmed the 80-Test veteran is likely to face several months on the sidelines.

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Matt Giteau

Wanted man… Matt Giteau playing for Toulon.

Matt Giteau has long been lost to the Wallabies for next year’s World Cup, but the bidding in French rugby for his services speaks volumes about his value as a player.

Giteau, an established star in the Top 14 champion Toulon club in the south of France, has reportedly become the target of the Paris-based Racing Metro club with a €1 million ($1.4 million) a year offer reportedly on the table.

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Rory Kockott

France call-up near: Rory Kockott

Rory Kockott’s wait for a taste of international rugby appears to be over as he meets with Philippe Saint-André this week.

The South African-born scrum-half looks certain to be part of the French squad for the November Tests according to the Midi Olympique, with Saint-André preparing to announce an initial squad on September 21 for a training camp.

Kockott became eligible for Les Bleus in July, and having been overlooked by Heyneke Meyer for the Rugby Championship, despite a scrum-half crisis, the Castres star seems to have settled on playing for France.

He will meet Saint-André this week, with the French coach eager to increase the competition on current scrum-halves Maxime Machenaud and Morgan Parra.

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Akona Ndungane

Akona Ndungane

Blue Bulls coach Frans Ludeke recalled Springbok wings Akona Ndungane and Bjorn Basson to his team to face the EP Kings at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Friday (19:10 kick-off).

They replace Sampie Mastriet and Jamba Ulengo, who started against the Golden Lions last week. They are two of three changes to the backline for the clash in Port Elizabeth.

In another rotational move, Piet van Zyl will start at scrumhalf, with Rudy Paige moving to the bench.

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Josh Mann-Rea

Not quite Julia Roberts, but still a happy hooker – Josh Mann-Rea

Josh Mann-Rea has saved the number of the Wallabies coach in his mobile phone so he never again thinks he’s being pranked with a call-up every rugby journeyman dreams of.

Not getting on as a reserve against South Africa last weekend for the most unlikely Wallabies debut of the professional era has only slightly dented the fairytale that Mann-Rea calls “my wild ride”.

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Taniela Tupou

The “Tongan Thor”, Taniela Tupou

‘Tongan Thor’ Taniela Tupou has urged his “haters” to calm down after he confirmed his sensational defection from New Zealand to Australia.

The 18-year-old will join an Australian Super Rugby team next year after rejecting a landmark offer from the New Zealand Rugby Union, which for the first time in history bid top-up money to a sign a schoolboy.

Tupou, the hottest teenage prospect in world rugby, officially ended New Zealand’s hopes of retaining his services on Monday, telling the Daily Telegraph: “I will be coming to Australia, it is the best thing for my family”.

Watch the video of Tupou in action below

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De Kock Steenkamp

De Kock Steenkamp

Welsh club Ospreys have confirmed that they have signed Stormers lock De Kock Steenkamp on a three-year contract, despite the player having one more year on his contract in the Cape.

Steenkamp, 27, secured an early release from his Stormers contract and will join the PRO12 club after representing the Stormers on 49 occasions in Super Rugby and playing 59 games for the Western Province in the Currie Cup.

“Joining the Ospreys is a great opportunity for me and a challenge that I can’t wait to get stuck into,” said Steenkamp in a statement on Ospreys’ official website.

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Tatafu Polota-Nau

Tatafu Polota-Nau

Injury-plagued hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau is set for a shock Wallabies starting return to quell an improved Argentinian outfit closing in on a maiden Rugby Championship victory.

Polota-Nau, without a game for six weeks, will Tuesday be named as one of three changes to Australia’s line-up for Saturday night’s clash on the Gold Coast.

While coach Ewen McKenzie is poised to promote winger Peter Betham and back-rower Ben McCalman, to replace injured stalwarts Adam Ashley-Cooper and Wycliff Palu, he could have easily eased Polota-Nau back on the bench.

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James O'Connor

James O’Connor: The worst of the three Amigos.

Drew Mitchell doesn’t mind admitting he didn’t jump for joy when told James O’Connor would be joining him in the south of France.

When O’Connor signed on for Toulon in February, the former Wallaby wing thought only of the brash youngster he’d known in Australian rugby, and the poor form and controversy behind his exit.

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Dane Coles

EXPECTING FATHER: All Blacks hooker Dane Coles admits he was nervous informing management he needed leave during a crucial stage of The Rugby Championship.

Hooker Dane Coles nervously told All Blacks Management he needed leave at a crucial time in play.

This was one ruckus Dane Coles wanted to avoid.

Although chuffed partner Sarah was pregnant with their first child, Coles couldn’t help worrying about how All Blacks coach Steve Hansen would react to his hooker swapping scrums for a birthing unit at such a crucial point of the Rugby Championship.

From a rugby perspective Coles concedes the timing is hardly ideal; the baby is due in the first week of October, coinciding with the blockbuster test against the Springboks in Johannesburg and at a time when the All Blacks are short of experienced hookers.

Yet there is only one place he wants to be on October 5 and it isn’t on a rugby field surrounded by 62,000 screaming South African rugby fans at Ellis Park.

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Jamba Ulengo

Jamba Ulengo

Springbok Sevens player Jamba Ulengo will make his Currie Cup debut for the Blue Bulls when they tackle the Golden Lions at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

Ulengo’s inclusion on the left wing is one of five changes to the backline that did duty in the home loss to Western Province last week.

The Bulls will also field a new halfback combination, as Rudy Paige is promoted from the bench, while Jacques-Louis Potgieter has recovered from a rib injury to take his place at flyhalf.

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Jake White

Jake White

The loss of some stalwarts to overseas clubs since the end of the Super Rugby season is making life tough for the young coaches who are going it alone for the first time at the helm of the Cell C Sharks in this Absa Currie Cup season.

Director of rugby Jake White has opted to take a back seat and not have any involvement with the Sharks senior team in the domestic season so that he can focus on the development of the players in the age-group teams as well as give head coach Brad MacLeod-Henderson and his assistants Sean Everitt and Paul Anthony the chance to experience the pressure that comes with being in charge

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Marvin Orie

Marvin Orie

Blue Bulls Under 21 lock Marvin Orie has received a one-week suspension on Wednesday for a dangerous tackle in the team’s Absa Under 21 Competition match against Western Province.

Orie was cited on Sunday for tackling Western Province lock JD Schickerling around the neck in the third minute of the clash and pulling him backwards until both players fell to the ground.

Schickerling suffered a fractured cervical spine at the C5/C6 level during the match.

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JD Schickerling

JD Schickerling

Based on the video evidence below, Tank Lanning believes it impossible to argue against at least further investigation into Irne Herbst’s tackle on JD Schickerling in Saturday’s Under-21 game at Loftus Versfeld.

Schickerling was injured after catching a ball from a kick-off when Bulls lock Herbst’s shoulder collided with Schickerling’s head. Afterwards, the Bulls’ other lock, Marvin Orie, grabbed Schickerling in a headclamp, before hurling him to the ground.

Orie has been asked to attend an official SARU disciplinary committee, while Herbst was issued an off-field yellow card after the WPRU asked for the incident to be reviewed.

Watch the video below:

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Johan Goosen

Johan Goosen

Flyhalf Johan Goosen said he has come to France to adapt his game and hopes it will help him earn a Rugby World Cup spot with the Springboks next year.

Former Cheetah, Goosen, 22, has played five times for South Africa, but made the radical decision to up sticks and move to Racing-Metro to help improve his kicking game.

He went with the blessings of Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer after an injury-ravaged start to his career that has seen him spend more time on the treatment table – he has undergone three knee operations and one each on his shoulder and arm – than the pitch.

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