The Vodacom Bulls will be without Springbok hooker Bandise Maku for the Vodacom Super Rugby season after he tore his pectoral muscle in Saturday’s opening friendly match against the Toyota Cheetahs in Polokwane.
Maku will have surgery on 3 February and will be ruled out of action for between four and six months, Vodacom Bulls team doctor Org Strauss confirmed on Monday.
The Polokwane clash last year saw a season-ending injury to flanker Arno Botha, but the Springbok this time came through the match with only a tight hamstring. He will be able to train on Tuesday, but will not travel to London where the Bulls take on Saracens this weekend.
Akona Ndungane is another who will miss the London trip due to a calf strain. He will be out of action for two weeks. Dean Greyling suffered an ankle sprain and will be out for two weeks at least, Strauss said.
The Toyota Cheetahs have been dealt their first massive injury blow of the season when news filtered through that former SA Under 20 winger Sergeal Pietersen broke his jaw during Saturday’s pre-season friendly against the Vodacom Bulls in Polokwane.
Pietersen, who transferred to Bloemfontein from the EP Kings at the end of last season, went off the field early after a clash with a defender and was replaced by Clayton Blommetjies.
Cheetahs coach Naka Drotske confirmed that it would be a lengthy spell on the sidelines for Pietersen, who is a dynamite finisher.
“It looks like we’ve lost him for between 6 and 8 weeks,” Drotske said.
Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder will have to put his faith in some young and inexperienced scrumhalves for the start of the Super Rugby season with Andy Ellis involved in Japan and Willi Heinz out with a broken leg.
A season-ending leg injury to Willi Heinz has propelled former Hurricane Billy Guyton into the Super Rugby spotlight for the Canterbury team.
There was a collective groan around Timaru’s Alpine Energy Stadium as Heinz broke his left fibula attempting a tackle in the second quarter of the Crusaders pre-season hitout against the Highlanders on Saturday.
England flyhalf Owen Farrell will undergo tests after hobbling off with a knee injury during Saracens’ 6 / 18 European Champions Cup defeat at Clermont on Sunday.
Farrell was forced off in the 19th minute, after twisting his left knee in a collision with Clermont flank Julien Bardy.
Saracens Director of Rugby Mark McCall said the 23-year-old would now undergo further tests to see if he can compete in the Six Nations which gets underway on 6 February.
Wales and British and Irish Lions prop, Adam Jones, has retired from international rugby, he said.
The 33-year-old Cardiff Blues player featured 95 times for Wales and won 3 Grand Slams but was left out of their Six Nations squad having missed out on the 2014 autumn series.
“It’s obviously not the way I would want to finish, it’s not how I planned it in my head, and I hope no-one thinks I am simply quitting,” said Jones.
His last appearance for Wales was in the 38-16 defeat by South Africa in the first test of their June 2014 tour when he was substituted after half-an-hour.
Western Force coach Michael Foley has revealed that Wallabies wing Nick “Honey Badger” Cummins will miss the first couple of Super Rugby matches as he needs surgery.
According to the Rugby Week website, Cummins left Western Australia to play in Japan last year for personal reasons, but he has been made available to play for the Force this season.
“Nick is having a little bit of minor surgery on his ankle at the moment,” said Foley.
Reds flyhalf Quade Cooper will be sidelined for 10 to 12 weeks after suffering a fractured collar bone during a training session at Ballymore Stadium on Thursday.
The 26-year-old playmaker, who was out for 16 weeks in 2014 due to an AC joint injury, will have surgery on Tuesday to repair the fracture, which occurred around the previous operation site.
Cooper’s AC joint injury occurred against the Rebels in May last year when he fell awkwardly on his left shoulder in a tackle.
Kelly Brown is determined to work his way back into the Scotland squad after being overlooked for the Six Nations.
The 32-year-old former captain failed to make Vern Cotter’s 32-man pool but is convinced he can still add to his 64 caps.
“It’s clearly disappointing, but selection is a funny thing,” Brown said.
“I want to play for Scotland and I certainly feel I can play for Scotland. I don’t feel over the hill yet.”
Saracens flanker Brown began last season’s Six Nations campaign as captain, although he was dropped later in the tournament. Since then Cotter has replaced Scott Johnson as head coach and Brown believes he has plenty still to offer, with the World Cup later in the year.
Brown has played once under Cotter, in a 19-17 win over Canada in June, but was not selected for the Autumn internationals.
Scotland international Sean Maitland will join London Irish next season.
Maitland, who signed for the Warriors in October 2012, has made 38 appearances for the club and has scored 11 tries during his spell in Glasgow.
The 26-year-old winger has 15 caps and 2 tries for Scotland.
Glasgow Warriors head coach Gregor Townsend said: “Sean has played a big role at the club over the last 3 years and we wish him all the best when he leaves at the end of the season.
“There is still a lot of rugby to be played between now and then and I’m sure he’ll want to leave the club on a high in the summer.”
Hurricanes prop John Schwalger, nephew of Mahonri Schwalger, has sustained further blood clots on his lungs and has been ruled out for a majority of the Super Rugby campaign.
The All Black first suffered the ailment, originally believed to be a chest infection, last year and played only 6 games for the Hurricanes.
He also skipped Wellington’s dismal NPC campaign.
All Black prop Charlie Faumuina has bucked the trend and re-committed to the Blues and New Zealand Rugby to the end of 2017.
One of the most mobile props in the game, 28-year-old Faumuina has established himself as a dominant and versatile tighthead, with the ability to play both sides of the scrum.
He has re-signed to play in New Zealand in 2016 and in 2017.
New Zealand Rugby Chief Executive Steve Tew welcomed Faumuina’s recommitment as a great result for the All Blacks and Blues.
South Africa lock Ben Venter revealed on Wednesday he is set to join Top 14 rugby union side Bordeaux-Begles.
Venter will fill in for Adam Jaulhac who is absent for 3 months after undergoing surgery on a herniated disc.
“I’m proud and happy to announce that I’m going to join Bordeaux-Begles,” the 27-year-old Venter wrote on his Twitter account.
Stormers flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis is the latest player linked to a move abroad, with French club Montpellier reportedly his destination. (Also see Update below)
Montpellier, currently coached by World Cup-winning former Springbok mentor Jake White, has been linked to a host of South African players – including the Du Plessis brothers Jannie and Bismarck.
Montpellier also secured the services of Wallaby scrumhalf Nic White, who will join them next season and be reunited with his former club coach White.
According to the French media the 24-year-old Brumbies No 9, White, has – along with Catrakilis – signed a 2-year contract with the option of extending it by a further year.
The first playing squad of the Stormers has been named already for the first Stormers warm-up match against SWD and it certainly looks like Scarra Ntubeni will have first pick at hooker, but Bongi bonambi, the imported hooker from the Bulls will not go away, he’ll battle for the starting spot all season and Scarra Ntubeni will have to be at his best… and stay injury free, to keep the pecking order in his favour.
Allister Coetzee is faced with a delicate balancing act, considering who he has available and who are carrying niggles and injuries.
The Brumbies will field 8 Wallabies, including David Pocock, this Friday – when they head to Perth to face the Force in the first Super Rugby hit-out of 2015.
In the backs the likes of Matt Toomua, Nic White, Christian Leali’ifano, Joe Tomane and Henry Speight will all feature, while 2014 top-try scorer Robbie Coleman will also travel west for the game.
The Players’ Player of the Year, Jarrad Butler, fronts a strong pack of Brumbies forwards – including Pocock, who has been named for the first time since February last year when he suffered a ruptured ACL.
Both Sekope Kepu (Waratahs) and Nic White (Brumbies), have added their names to the long list of Australian Players who will pack up and go play rugby in France after the Rugby World Cup of 2015.
Australian international prop Sekope Kepu has become the latest addition to the conveyor belt moving players from the Southern Hemisphere to France.
Kepu signed a three-year deal with ambitious Top 14 club Bordeaux-Begles.
The 28-year-old Wallaby – who will join after this year’s World Cup – is the second player from the Waratahs to join the club coached by former France captain Raphael Ibanez.
Former All Blacks captain and back-row forward Jerry Collins has joined second-flight French club Narbonne as a stop-gap for the injured Rocky Elsom, the club said on Monday.
Narbonne’s player-owner Elsom, a former Wallabies captain himself, has an injured shoulder that will sideline him for three months. The 34-year-old Collins has played in France before, at Toulon in the 2008-2009 season, after seven seasons at Wellington.
Versatile Chiefs back Tim Nanai-Williams, while pushing for qualification to play for Samoa, could be forced to choose club over country.
The 25-year-old is pursuing a loophole through the international Sevens circuit that will allow him to play for Samoa at the World Cup later this year because his parents were born in the islands.
If his Chiefs team make a deep run in the Super Rugby play-offs however, he will miss the historic test match between the All Blacks and Samoa in Apia this July.
Chiefs coach Dave Rennie has made it clear that Nanai-Williams will be putting his franchise first in the event of a clash as they will still be in the Super Rugby window.
Lions centre Rohan Janse van Rensburg is enjoying life at his new team after making the move to Johannesburg from the Bulls.
Janse van Rensburg is considered to be one of the top talents coming through the South African rugby ranks. He was recognised as one of the top young centres after showing great pedigree as a schoolboy at Waterkloof, while he also enjoyed a successful run as a junior at the Bulls between 2010 and 2014.
He impressed for the Junior Springboks during last year’s Junior World Championship before injury prematurely ended his tournament.
The 20-year-old now enters a new and exciting chapter in his career has he completed a move from the Bulls to the Lions after the Currie Cup. He hopes to achieve more senior accolades at his new team.
Injured Springbok captain Jean de Villiers is holding on tight to his dream of recovering in time for the World Cup tournament.
The Bok medical team and their counterparts from Western Province said on Monday they will work together in the coming months to ensure De Villiers is afforded every opportunity to make a successful comeback to the playing field in time for the global showpiece in September and October.
The Bok captain will continue with his rehabilitation following the serious knee injury he suffered against Wales last November.
Springbok team doctor Craig Roberts is in charge of the rehabilitation process.
Blues wing and one-Test All Black Frank Halai is set to join the exodus to Britain with a deal at London Wasps.
According to The Telegraph, the giant try-scoring machine is set to join the Aviva Premiership club at the end of the Rugby World Cup in late October on a long-term deal.
Sharks flyhalf Tim Swiel says he has settled in nicely at English club Harlequins, who he joined on loan last year.
Swiel, 21, will stay with the London club until the end of February before returning to Durban.
In an interview, Swiel said he’s learnt a lot in the few months at Harlequins.
Prop Morne Mellett has been cleared of a rib contusion and will be considered for the Vodacom Bulls team to play a season-opening friendly against the Toyota Cheetahs in Polokwane on Saturday.
The match starts at 17:00.
Mellett’s return will be good news to coach Frans Ludeke, as the Bulls have a number of front rankers out of action.
Montpellier president Mohed Altrad on Monday “categorically denied” reports of a deal to sign South African forwards Bismarck and Jannie du Plessis.
The brothers, various domestic media suggested, were due to join the Top 14 side after the conclusion of the 2015 Rugby World Cup in November on a two-year deal.
But Altrad said: “I categorically deny these reports.”
Jano Vermaak, one of South Africa’s most experienced scrumhalves, is believed to be on the Stormers’ shopping list for their 2015 Super Rugby campaign.
Vermaak currently plies his trade for French Top 14 club Toulouse. He is a former SA Under 21 representative who has also played for the SA Sevens side as well as the Emerging Springboks.
The 30-year old was a member of the Springbok squad for most of the 2012 season, with Ruan Pienaar and Francois Hougaard as the two first choice scrumhalves in the squad.
The native of Graaff-Reinet made his Test debut for the Springboks on 8 June 2013 against Italy at Kings Park in Durban. He suffered a hamstring injury in the 62nd minute of that Test and had to be replaced. Since then he has played three Tests for the Boks.
Bismarck and Jannie du Plessis as well as Duane Vermeulen will further their careers in France after this year’s Rugby World Cup, respected French rugby newspaper Midi Olympique has revealed.
According to the newspaper, the official announcement regarding Vermeulen will only be made in July.
Unlike other New Zealand franchises the Hurricanes will not rest their All Blacks back for the opening Rounds of Super Rugby.
New Zealand Rugby Union have given them dispensation over the other 4 New Zealand sides due to their demanding opening schedule, in which they play two matches in South Africa and one in Australia.
Coach Chris Boyd said it just means they will give their All Blacks an opportunity to rest later in the competition.
Courtney Lawes, one of England’s key forwards, will miss the start of the SIX Nations Championship after he undergoes surgery on an injured ankle on Monday.
Northampton rugby director Jim Mallinder said the 25-year-old Saints lock was set to miss the “first few weeks” of the tournament, which could mean Lawes being sidelined not just for England’s opening game with Wales on 6 February but also the Italy match on 14 February.
It is a blow for England to lose their 36-times capped powerhouse, as they are already without Wasps lock Joe Launchbury for the whole tournament as he continues his rehabilitation from neck surgery.
The DHL Stormers have finished their training camp in Hermanus and have also appointed their leadership for the season.
We also bring news on Nizaam Carr, who did not take part in the training camp but in stead was hospitalised due to a viral infection.
By now, the rumours of Duane Vermeulen’s departure overseas have also been laid to rest, we discuss it below.
Seabelo Senatla, the speedster, will only join the Stormers in a couple of months due to his dual committments with the South African Sevens side, more hereunder.
Wallaby and three-time Super Rugby champion, Radike Samo, will join the Melbourne Rebels for the 2015 Super Rugby season.
Samo, who moves to Melbourne from Kinetsu Liners in the Japanese Top League, has made 23 appearances for the Wallabies, and was part of the squad which finished third at the 2011 Rugby World Cup.
Speaking prior to moving to Melbourne, Samo said he was excited to join Tony McGahan’s group and have “one final crack at Super Rugby.”
South African-born trio Rory Kockott, Scott Spedding and Bernard le Roux all maintained their places in France’s initial 31-man squad ahead of the Six Nations.
Kockott and Spedding made their debuts during the November Tests with differing levels of success.
While Spedding has been embraced by the French public following a string of good performances, Kockott has endured a tough start to his international career, with many questioning his inclusion at the expense of French-born scrumhalves.
Meanwhile, coach Philippe Saint-Andre also called up Fijian wing Noa Nakaitaci. The 24-year-old has played his senior club rugby in France since moving to Clermont from the Nadroga academy in his homeland in 2010.
All Black legend Ali Williams vowed to spend his time fishing and hunting after announcing his retirement from the game.
The 33-year-old New Zealand international lock joined European and French champions Toulon at the beginning of last season, after a career spent with the Blues and Crusaders.
“I’ve enjoyed every day that I’ve played rugby and I’m still enjoying it to the end but my body’s said enough is enough,” said Williams.
“There’s huge motivation to go out on a winning note but like anything you can’t look to the prizes, you have to look to the processes for the next few months to try to get to the prizes.
New Zealand flanker Peter Saili has signed for French Top 14 side Bordeaux-Begles, club president Laurent Marti confirmed on Friday.
Saili, 27, who recently left Blues after 5 years and 71 Super Rugby matches with the club, has penned a 2-and-a-half year deal with the western French side.
Saili, who will join his new club later this month, is the second Blues player to sign for Bordeaux after compatriot Luke Braid, who arrives next season for 2 years.
Veteran World Cup-winning prop BJ Botha is happier than ever at Munster and hopes to sign on for another year with the Irish side.
The 35-year-old former Sharks stalwart moved to Ireland in 2008, originally joining Ulster, and made the move to their rivals Munster in 2011.
He said that while he is coming to the end of his career, he still has more to give and has his sights set on earning 100 caps for Munster.
‘Football chameleon’ and new Reds recruit Karmichael Hunt has his sights firmly set on making the Wallabies World Cup squad.
Having started his career as a Rugby League player with the Brisbane Broncos, Hunt switched to playing Australian Rules in the Australian Football League for the Gold Coast Suns in 2011.
He signed for the Reds in the off-season and is expected to make his Super Rugby debut at fullback in the Round 1 clash with the Brumbies in Canberra.
He has made no secret of his World Cup ambitions, although he knows that he will have to prove himself at Super Rugby level first.