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Player Movements

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Ian Prior

Ian Prior

Ian Prior of the Western Force received a Red Card for a tip-tackle on Tim Nanai-Williams during a Super Rugby match against the Chiefs on Friday.

Prior dumped Nanai-Williams in a tackle that saw the Chiefs wing land on his neck and head, in an incident that occurred in the 28th minute of the match at Waikato Stadium in Hamilton.

He is alleged to have contravened Law 10.4 (j) Lifting a player from the ground and dropping or driving that player into the ground whilst that player’s feet are still off the ground such that the player’s head and / or upper body come into contact with the ground.

The case is to be ruled by SANZAR Duty Judicial Officer Nigel Hampton.

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Derick MinnieEmirates Lions head coach Johan Ackermann has announced his team for Saturday’s clash against the Toyota Cheetahs at Emirates Airline Park in Johannesburg.

Ackermann has made just 3 changes to the starting side which beat the Cell C Sharks a fortnight ago.

In the forwards, Armand “Akker” van der Merwe will start at hooker while Ruan Dreyer has been drafted in at tighthead prop.

The backline sees just 1 change, with Courtnall Skosan starting at left wing, having recovered from injury.

On the bench, MB Lusaseni also moves into the match day 23, having recovered from his long-term injury. This is his 1st inclusion in the 2015 competition.

Unfortunately Derick Minnie drops out of the match day 23 as a result of an injury he sustained during Tuesday’s training session. Minnie has undergone surgery on his knee and will unfortunately be out of action for the remainder of the season.

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Sam Carter

Sam Carter

Brumbies lock Sam Carter will miss this weekend’s clash with the Highlanders following the death of a close family friend who tragically passed away last weekend playing for the Quirindi Lions.

The Wallaby lock’s family are still based in Quirindi and he will be allowed to return home for the funeral and for as long as he needs.

“At a time like this, rugby takes a back seat. From our point of view family is extremely important,” said Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham told the Canberra Times.

“Player welfare is extremely important and it’s right for Sam and his family to be up there with the current situation.”

Blake Enever will replace Carter in the second row in Canberra.

2 South African brothers start for the Brumbies on the weekend, JP & Ruan Smith.

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Lee Byrne

Lee Byrne

Newport Gwent Dragons’ former Wales fullback Lee Byrne has been forced to retire due to a shoulder injury, the 34-year-old announced on Thursday.

The former British and Irish Lion, who also played for Scarlets, Ospreys and Clermont, made his international debut in 2005 and went on to make 46 appearances for Wales, with whom he won the Six Nations Grand Slam in 2008.

He joined the Dragons last year and was subsequently appointed captain, but after undergoing shoulder surgery in November, he has been obliged to call time on his career.

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Brad Barritt

Brad Barritt

Saracens and England centre Brad Barritt has committed his future to the club signing a long-term deal at Allianz Park.

The 28-year old is the latest Saracen to commit his future to the north Londoners, following the likes of Marcelo Bosch, Owen Farrell, Maro Itoje and George Kruis in signing contract extensions.

On signing his new deal, Barritt said: “I’m absolutely delighted to stay a part of the Saracens family. I consider this place home and I’m really looking forward to the years ahead with this fantastic club.

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Marty McKenzie

Marty McKenzie

Marty McKenzie has got the nod to replace Aaron Cruden at flyhalf for the Chiefs, beating out younger brother Damian for a starting berth against the Western Force.

Cruden was ruled out for the rest of the season with a torn ACL earlier this week, dealing a major blow to the Chiefs’ Super Rugby hopes as well as ending his own World Cup dream.

The elder McKenzie will get the 1st chance to replace him as the Chiefs look to pile more misery on the Force.

There are 4 other changes, with Bryce Heem replacing James Lowe on the wing, while up front Siate Tokolahi and Johan Bardoul all to start.

Liam Messam is rested as part of the agreement with New Zealand Rugby, so Matt Symons will take over the captaincy for the Chiefs, who are currently just a point behind Super Rugby leaders the Hurricanes.

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Kobus van Wyk

Kobus van Wyk

Hard-running Stormers wing Kobus van Wyk has been ruled out of action for 6 weeks, after picking up a patella injury against the Force last weekend.

Van Wyk limped off the field in the 29th minute of Saturday’s hard-fought clash in Perth and he will be unavailable until June.

Fellow wing Dillyn Leyds sat out training on Tuesday, but squad captain Duane Vermeulen – fresh off his 2-week rest period – rejoined squad training at the Stormers’ High Performance Centre in Bellville.

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Dave Dennis

Dave Dennis

Waratahs captain Dave Dennis has signed a new contract with the ARU keeping him in Australia for at least 2 more years.

The 31-year-old who can play in both the 2nd row and the back row, has signed up through to 2017 as he looks to help the Waratahs retain their Super Rugby title.

Injury kept him out of the knockout stages of last year’s win, but Dennis has been in good form so far this season.

The fact he is staying will be a welcome boost for Daryl Gibson, who will replace Michael Cheika as Waratahs boss at the end of the season.

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Quade Cooper

Quade Cooper

Toulon have quashed rumours that they have signed Irish captain Paul O’Connell, but it is believed that the Reds & Wallaby flyhalf Quade Cooper has made the move.

It was reported that the French giants were chasing another Galácticos signing for the second row, with current legends Bakkies Botha and Ali WIlliams set to retire at the end of the season.

O’Connell’s contract with the IRFU expires in June of 2016, but it was speculated that Toulon were eager for him to be released from his contract to join them after the World Cup.

Since then, a strong statement has been released insisting ‘any alleged contacts between the player and the french club are pure speculation’.
Meanwhile, French paper L’Equipe has said that Toulon have captured the signature of the mercurial Cooper on a 2-year deal.

Cooper, if reports are to be believed, would join a burgeoning Australian contingent at Toulon with Matt Giteau and Drew Mitchell already there.

Toulon have already brought in All Black Ma’a Nonu ahead of next season with Samu Manoa, Salesi Ma’afu and Napolioni Nalaga also joining the reigning European champions.

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Mike Fitzgerald

Mike Fitzgerald

Leicester Tigers have agreed a move for lock forward Mike Fitzgerald, who will join them from Super Rugby outfit the Chiefs in New Zealand.

Auckland-born second row Fitzgerald, 28, has won 2 Super Rugby titles with the Chiefs as well as playing ITM Cup rugby with the Manawatu Turbos.

At six-foot-five and 18 stone, he is noted for his hard work as well as a strong set-piece.

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Willie le Roux

Willie le Roux

The Cheetahs have been dealt another blow with the news that Willie le Roux could face an extended period on the sidelines.

The Springbok fullback is suffering from an ankle injury, and it is reported that he could be out for up to 5 weeks.

Le Roux didn’t feature against the Reds last weekend as he was being rested, so it’s unclear when he suffered the injury.

His absence would be a major blow for the Bloemfontein outfit, which has already lost Heinrich Brüssow for the season to a broken arm.

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Jason Woodward

Jason Woodward

After suffering their 1st defeat of the campaign, the Hurricanes have taken a 2nd blow as Jason Woodward’s season was prematurely ended by a broken ankle.

The outside back suffered the injury playing club rugby for Upper Hutt against Oriental Rongotai in Wellington over the weekend.

While the former Rebel has just 3 Super Rugby appearances to his name this year, his loss will be a blow to the depth of the Hurricanes’ formidable backline that has set the competition alight in the 1st half of the season.

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Jerome Kaino

Jerome Kaino

Blues coach John Kirwan is set to give his most prolific player, captain Jerome Kaino, a break when they head to Christchurch this week.

The Blues, with just 1 win from 9 starts, are 2nd from last on the Combined Log.

However, they have build some great momentum in recent weeks – their maiden season win (16 / 14) over the Brumbies was followed by a close loss (24 / 30) against Highlanders in Dunedin at the weekend.

It was the Blues’ 5th losing bonus point – for finishing within 7 points or less of the opposition – and indication that they are much better than their lowly position on the table suggest.

However, Kirwan won’t be tempted to push the All Black loose forward, Kaino, in another game – despite the desperate need or another win.

He knows they are faced with a massive hurdle in the form of an equally desperate Crusaders team in Christchurch on Saturday.

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Peter Betham

Peter Betham

Australia and Waratahs wing Peter Betham has agreed a move to join Leicester Tigers at the end of the Super Rugby Season.

The 26-year-old is currently playing Super Rugby with defending champions the Waratahs and on Saturday he scored 2 tries in Wellington as they became the 1st team to defeat the Hurricanes this season.

Born in Wellington, New Zealand, Betham was brought up in Sydney and had spells with the Brumbies and Melbourne Rebels as well as with the Waratahs.

He made his Wallabies debut in a Bledisloe Cup fixture against the All Blacks in 2013.

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Aaron Cruden, injured on the weekend and out for the season

Aaron Cruden, injured on the weekend and out for the season

The Chiefs and All Blacks were delivered devastating news in the context of their 2015 campaigns on Monday when it was confirmed Aaron Cruden had ruptured his left anterior cruciate ligament.

The star playmaker will visit a surgeon on Wednesday to arrange a knee re-construction which is expected to keep him sidelined for 6 months.

In a brief statement issued on Monday afternoon, the Chiefs confirmed that Cruden would undergo traditional surgery “given Aaron’s young age and long-term career prospects.”

Cruden’s Super Rugby season is definitely over and his Rugby World Cup has been thrown into doubt as even a best-case recovery within that 6 month window would only see him fit in the final fortnight of the tournament.

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James Broadhurst

James Broadhurst

James Broadhurst has decided he likes what’s going on at the Hurricanes and is keen to stay put.

The 27-year-old Taranaki lock has re-signed with the club for another 2 seasons and said there was no team he’d rather be with until the end of 2017.

“I love this team, I love being a Hurricane, and in a way I see the next couple of years as a real opportunity to step up.

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Matt Hodgson

Matt Hodgson

Captain Matt Hodgson is set to make his return to Super Rugby after being named in the Force’s 25-man travelling squad for its 2-match New Zealand tour.

Hodgson sustained a hamstring injury in the Force’s final pre-season fixture against the Asia Pacific Dragons, and has been unavailable through the 1st half of the competition.

The 33-year-old will resume the captaincy of the squad, coinciding with the news that interim captain Sam Wykes will be unable to travel with the team after succumbing to a foot injury suffered in Saturday night’s match against the Stormers.

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Nicolás Sánchez

Nicolás Sánchez

Pumas flyhalf Nicolás Sánchez is the latest player to sign with the Argentina Rugby Union ahead of their entry into Super Rugby next year.

The 26-year-old former Bordeaux Begles and Toulon playmaker has signed a 3-year contract starting on 1 January and making him available until at least the end of 2018.

The deal was sealed at Sánchez’s current club, Tucuman Lawn Tennis Club, which is celebrating it’s centenary year.

Sánchez joins fellow Pumas Joaquín Tuculet and Agustín Creevy in committing to their national union despite having enjoyed successful and lucrative stints in Europe.

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Jason Emery

Jason Emery

Tom Franklin

Tom Franklin

Highlanders’ lock, Tom Franklin, and midfielder, Jason Emery, have re-signed with the franchise for a further 2 years, signalling their commitment to the team.

Franklin, who made his debut in 2014, has played 15 games for the Highlanders and has been a regular starter this season.

He has formed a very effective locking partnership with Joe Wheeler and has the physical attributes to do the hard work while possessing the natural ball skills to contribute significantly on attack.

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Varsity CupCoach Franco Smith has been forced to make changes to his Varsity Cup Dream Team which will tackle the Baby Boks in Stellenbosch next Tuesday evening.

UP-Tuks players Dan Kriel and Jaco Visagie are not available for selection and had to be replaced.

Kriel’s spot at inside centre has been taken by Johan Deysel who will now link up with his NWU-Pukke team-mate Rowayne Beukman in midfield.

Visagie was due to start as a replacement and experienced UFS-Shimlas hooker Elandre Hugget will now take his spot on the bench.

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Declan Fitzpatrick

Declan Fitzpatrick

Ulster and Ireland prop Declan Fitzpatrick, who played in the 2012 European Cup Final at Twickenham Stadium, has been forced to retire on medical grounds.

The 31-year-old, who counted 27 European Cup ties in the 98 games he played for Ulster, experienced a number of concussion episodes in recent seasons.

His symptoms were progressively slower to resolve and he was referred to a leading neurologist by the medical team at Ulster.

Following tests it was recommended that it would be in the best long-term interests of the player who won 7 international caps, and played 9 times for the Ireland Wolfhounds (B-Team), to stop playing altogether.

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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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Bernard Foley

Bernard Foley

Waratahs Super Rugby-winning flyhalf Bernard Foley has signed a 3-year contract extension with the Australian Rugby Union.

The new agreement locks away the 25-year-old incumbent Wallaby flyhalf until at least the end of 2018 and ensures he will be eligible for Wallabies and Waratahs selection in each year of the deal. As part of the flexible contract, Foley will also be entitled to spend 2 seasons playing rugby in the Japanese domestic competition.

Foley said he was thrilled to have finalised a long-term agreement with Australian Rugby.

“I have an incredibly strong desire to continue representing Australia and the Waratahs, and this deal allows me to do that for at least another 3 years,” Foley said.

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Joaquín Tuculet

Joaquín Tuculet

Cardiff Blues fullback, Joaquín Tuculet, has confirmed that he will return home to Argentina to represent his country’s Super Rugby team from 2016.

Tuculet joins his national captain, Agustin Creevy, as the 1st European-based players to commit to the new team and has signed through until at least the end of the 2018 Super Rugby season.

“It is with great pride that I have decided to commit to this project by the UAR and Daniel Hourcade,” he said.

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Reniel Hugo

Reniel Hugo

The Toyota Free State Cheetahs and Toyota Cheetahs have secured the services of FNB UP-Tuks lock, Reniel Hugo.

The 24-year-old lock has signed a deal which will keep him in Bloemfontein until the end of the 2016 season.

Hugo represented Tuks for the past 2 years after joining from Maties.

He was earlier this week also named as captain of the Varsity Cup Dream Team to play against the Junior Springboks in Stellenbosch, next week Tuesday.

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Sonny Bill Williams

Sonny Bill Williams

Chiefs head coach Dave Rennie has made 5 changes to his starting 15 for Friday’s clash with the Crusaders in Christchurch.

Brad Weber starts at scrumhalf and Sonny Bill Williams and Charlie Ngatai return from injury to take their place in the midfield.

Tim Nanai-Williams comes onto the right wing with Tom Marshall moving to fullback while Michael Fitzgerald, Augustine Pulu and Andrew Horrell all join the reserves.

The Chiefs won the corresponding fixture between these sides, 40 / 16 in Hamilton in Round 3. Despite that result, Rennie expects a tough battle against the 7-time champions.

“The Crusaders are a quality side,” he said.

“Our previous encounters with them have been of test match intensity and this is a must win game for both sides to remain in touch with the Hurricanes.”

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Kieran Read

Kieran Read

Kieran Read has changed his mind and declined the opportunity to play at the Rio Olympics in 2016.

All Black superstar Read initially had his mind set on joining the New Zealand Sevens team to play in the Brazil Olympic Games, but after lengthy talks with All Black coach Steve Hanson, he has opted to concentrate on the 15-man game.

Read’s decision not to chase an Olympic medal, would have also been a relief for Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder.

Super Rugby players who elect to play the shorter version of the game are expected to miss approximately 6 Rounds of the competition, meaning Blackadder would have been without his skillful skipper for a 3rd of the Super Rugby season if he had chosen to play Sevens.

“I was keen to go Rio but I won’t be,” Read said at the Crusaders training session on Wednesday.

“It would be a hell of an opportunity but I will probably focus on making the All Blacks team.”

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Willie le Roux

Willie le Roux

Springbok fullback Willie le Roux will sit out the Toyota Cheetahs clash with the Reds this weekend due to the rest agreement with SA Rugby.

Le Roux will be replaced by Coenie van Wyk in the starting line-up as the only change to the team that beat the Western Force last Saturday in Perth.

This will mark the 9th Super Rugby encounter between the Cheetahs and the Reds, since their 1st match in March 2006.

The Reds are leading the way with 5 wins to 3.

It will also be the 5th time the teams meet at the Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein, since the 1st encounter.

The Cheetahs has won 3 previous matches in Bloemfontein to the Reds 1.

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Taqele Naiyaravoro

Taqele Naiyaravoro

The Waratahs are likely to be without in-form winger Taqele Naiyaravoro for their Super Rugby crunch match against the Hurricanes in New Zealand, due to a visa issue.

Fijian Naiyaravoro was also omitted from the team for the match against the Otago Highlanders in Dunedin last month and is unable to leave Australia for the time being.

“Taqele’s visa application is an ongoing process and as such he is not able to travel overseas at this point in time,” a spokeswoman for the Waratahs said on Tuesday.

The Waratahs declined to comment on whether the explosive 23-year-old, who leads the team with 3 tries, would be available for subsequent games in South Africa later in the year which could prove season-defining.

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Ryan Crotty

Ryan Crotty

Ryan Crotty has been ruled out of the Crusaders’ clash with the Chiefs as a precautionary measure, after he suffered a head knock against the Highlanders last weekend.

It is not all bad news for the Crusaders though, as star flyhalf Dan Carter could well fill the vacant No 12 spot after appearing off the bench against the Highlanders.

Injuries have played their part in marring the All Black playmaker’s season thus far, but he should be fit enough to start on the weekend.

Crotty’s absence is also offset by the return of loosehead prop Wyatt Crockett and lock Luke Romano, who were rested for the Highlanders’ game.

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Colin Slade

Colin Slade

All Black and Crusaders back Colin Slade has signed with the Section Paloise Rugby Club (Pau), departing following the World Cup.

Slade said he had not found it easy to come to the decision to play overseas but he was now excited about the opportunity.

“This is certainly not a decision taken lightly. I have given it a lot of thought and considered all my options, but I am now satisfied that moving to Pau after this year is the right decision for me at this point in my life,” Slade said.

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Matt Hodgson

Matt Hodgson

The Western Force have been given a boost as captain Matt Hodgson has signed a contract to play Super Rugby for the Perth side again in 2016, with the option of a further season in 2017.

The evergreen back-rower, who is currently sidelined as he returns from a hamstring injury, remains the most-capped player in the club’s history (113 matches) having made his Super Rugby debut for the Force against the Brumbies in the club’s inaugural match in 2006.

Hodgson, who along with Pek Cowan remain the only current foundation players, claimed his 3rd Nathan Sharpe Medal for the Force’s player of the year in 2014, and returned to the Wallabies squad where he captained the national side in their 40 / 36 win over the Barbarians in London.

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Pat Howard

Pat Howard

Western Province back Pat Howard has reportedly signed a deal with English Premiership club Northampton Saints.

While the news is yet to be officially announced, it is reported that Howard will leave the Cape union later this year.

The 23-year-old Howard, who can play wing and centre, is contracted with WP until 31 October.

This means he will in all likelihood be asked to stay until the end of this year’s Currie Cup.

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Michael Rhodes

Michael Rhodes

Utility forward Michael Rhodes will return home from the DHL Stormers’ Vodacom Super Rugby tour of Australasia after suffering a hamstring tear in his team’s 32 / 18 bonus point win over the Waratahs at the weekend.

The tough-tackling forward was forced to leave the field in the 33rd minute on Saturday and he now faces a 6 to 8 week lay-off – Rhodes’s 2nd injury blow of the season after picking up a knee injury against the Lions in late February.

Rhodes will be replaced in the DHL Stormers tour party by DHL Western Province Vodacom Cup star Sikhumbuzo Notshe, who left for Perth late on Sunday evening.

DHL Stormers boss Allister Coetzee told the www.iamastormer.com website: “Michael has a Grade 2 or 3 hamstring tear and will be out of action for at least 6 weeks.

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