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Jannie du Plessis

Jannie du Plessis

Francois Louw

Francois Louw

The Springboks will be without tighthead prop Jannie du Plessis and flanker Francois Louw when they face Argentina’s Los Pumas in Durban next Saturday, but the Springboks could have Jean de Villiers, Fourie du Preez and Willem Alberts back while at this stage their medical team is optimistic of delivering a fully fit squad to the selectors for the Rugby World Cup, it was announced on Tuesday.

De Villiers, Du Preez and Alberts are 3 of 7 players whose fitness will be assessed on Monday as they complete the final phase of rehabilitation while players such as Duane Vermeulen and Coenie Oosthuizen are progressing well with their rehabilitation.

Although Du Plessis (knee) and Louw (rotator cuff), along with Victor Matfield and JP Pietersen (both hamstring injuries) will miss the Tests against the Pumas, none of these injuries will put their Rugby World Cup participation at risk. Saturday’s other injury victims, Vincent Koch and Warren Whiteley (rib cartilages) should be fit and available for selection next weekend.

Jan Serfontein (hip and knee), Marcell Coetzee (knee), Pieter-Steph du Toit (knee) and Steven Kitshoff (knee) will also be assessed on Monday with a view to being available to selection against the Pumas.

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The Rugby Championship This weekend saw Round 2 of The Rugby Championship.

In johannesburg, South Africa it was heart-break for the Springboks again, 2nd week in a row, this time losing in the dying minutes against a better conditiond and fitter All Blacks side, by 20 / 27, with All Blacks capatin Richie McCaw doing the damage to snatch the lead from the South Africans with only 6 minutes to go in the match.

In Mendoza, Argentinia, the Wallabies led 8 / 6 at halftime before tuning in all the screws and beating Los Pumas comfortably by 34 / 9, also earning their bonus point for tries in the process.

As a result of the Round 2 results, the All Blacks and Wallabies are joint leaders of The Rugby Championship Log, with 2 wins apiece, whereas the Springboks and Los Pumas are still winless in the Competition, with the Springboks on a paltry 2 Log points and Los Pumas still not out of the starting gates, on 0 Log Points.

In 2015 there is of course only 3 Rounds in total, in the abbreviated version of the prime Southern Hemisphere international competition due to this year being a Rugby World Cup year. In this shortened version of the competition, where in stead of the normal double Round of matches by every side against the other sides, there is only a single Round of matches by every side against each of the other nations.

Round 3 is only in a fortnight, where the focus will be on the Bledisloe clash between the Wallabies and All Blacks for this year’s overall title.

The Springboks dominated most of the 1st half but at the break the scores were still tied on 10 / 10 and later on 17 / 17 before South Africa took a slender 20 / 17 lead and held that lead untill 6 minutes from time, whereafter the All Blacks showed their class and superior fitness and better bench selections to add 10 further points and running out 7-point winners.

All is not lost for the Springboks and one feels that they showed some quality rugby 2 weeks in a row, but they will surely now realize that their overall conditioning, fitness as well as the impact their bench is supposed to have in the vital Rugby World Cup during September and October still need a massive amount of work if they are to stand a proper chance of winning the world showpiece in 2015.

The All Blacks once again appear to be massive favourites to not only win theis year’s Rugby Championship but to also go on to clinch the Rugby World Cup title in October.

Argentina seem to be dogged by the same “Illness” that the Springboks are suffering from, as they also seem incapable of ending games strong enough and also tend to kick tactically poorly, which invariably results in scores against them in the latter stages of games when defences are no longer as tight as in the beginning of matches.

The Wallabies are building up nicely towards the Rugby World Cup, having first narrowly dispatched the Springboks week before last and now comforably beating Los Pumas on the weekend. They managed to score 2 quick-fire tries towards the end of the clash in Argentina, first by Tevita Kuridrani and then barely 3 minutes later one by Adam Ashley-Cooper (to earn them the bonus point for tries) to hammer the nails in properly against the Pumas.

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SpringboksExamination of The Rugby Championship table with just 1 Round to go hardly suggests the Springboks may be inching spiritedly toward a prosperous new era.

South Africa lie 3rd, winless, and already out of the running: when they tackle Argentina in Durban in just under a fortnight it will simply be a battle to avoid the wooden spoon as the Wallabies and All Blacks slug it out for title glory a few hours earlier in Sydney.

Fortunately it had been widely accepted by the most astute of rugby observers before the 2015 tournament even began that its bragging rights are of secondary importance this year, given the scheduling just a few weeks shy of the 8th World Cup in the United Kingdom.

Local enthusiasts prepared to prioritise the bigger picture will also be fully aware that the Springboks could so easily be lying at the top of The Rugby Championship pile right now, as they bossed the Wallabies for 50 minutes in Brisbane and then the All Blacks for considerably closer to 70 minutes in Johannesburg on Saturday.

If rugby is a game of inches, then Tevita Kuridrani’s debated, last-gasp try made the critical difference 2 weeks back and Lood de Jager not being able to stretch his lunging arm just a couple of centimetres further against the All Blacks for a 55th-minute Springbok touchdown possibly denied them in the latest instance.

In the final analysis, lack of composure and 1 or 2 errors in tactical decision-making at vital times by a rookie-laden team thwarted them more than anything else on Saturday – it was not as though the Springboks looked light years behind for pure competence and skill in either instance, and that is a firm plus to bank in the run-up to the Rugby World Cup.

Perhaps also, a cranked-up emphasis on conditioning and durability will work wonders over the next couple of months as Heyneke Meyer’s charges get progressively used to the new ball-in-hand culture they are embracing with some gusto and swelling promise.

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Jérôme Garcès

Jérôme Garcès

South Africa’s Springboks fell foul of a law that was introduced for player safety, when they lost 20 / 27 to the New Zealand All Blacks in their Rugby Championship encounter at the weekend.

For the 2nd week in a row the Springboks snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, after All Blacks captain Richie McCaw scored a clever try 6 minutes from time to secure the victory over their arch-rivals at Emirates Airline Park on Saturday.

The defeat came 1 week after the Springboks conceded an even later try, in the 80th minute, to fall 20 / 24 against Australia’s Wallabies in Brisbane.

However, it was the question of why there were uncontested scrums in the final quarter – when the Springboks still had 3 ‘qualified’ front row forwards on the field – that puzzled most observers.

It came at a crucial point in the game and had a material effect on the outcome.

The dominant Springbok scrum, which had already earned a couple of penalties and free kicks in the 1st hour, was reduced to uncontested restarts – after Vincent Koch, who had replaced the injured Jannie du Plessis at halftime, was forced from the field in the 61st minute.

Even though Trevor Nyakane, who can play on both sides of the scrum, took to the field, French referee Jérôme Garcès ruled that there should be uncontested scrums.

Not only did it eliminate one of the Springboks’ strengths, but it came at a crucial time.

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DHL WPDHL Western Province edged the EP Kings 21 / 18 in their  friendly clash at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Saturday night.

In an exciting finish, the Kings, who trailed 14 / 13 at halftime, stormed on to the attack in the closing minutes but the WP defence held firm for the victory as the sides completed their match preparations for the Currie Cup starting on 8 August.

After a try by WP centre and captain Juan de Jongh gave the visitors a 21 / 13 lead in the 55th minute, the Kings gave themselves a chance at victory when left wing Luther Obi shot through a gap to narrow the margin to 3 points with 6 minutes remaining.

In the 1st half the Kings took a 7 / 0 lead after a try by prop Maks van Dyk, converted by fullback Scott van Breda, who also added 2 penalties.

WP hit back with tries by wings Kobus van Wyk and Seabelo Senatla, both converted by flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis.

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ORC Griquas

The ORC Griquas secured their place in the 2015 ABSA Currie Cup Premier Division with a hard-fought 41 / 21 victory over the SWD Eagles on Saturday in Kimberley in their final Qualifier match.

Griquas were made to work extremely hard for their win and the much-sought after 5 Log points as the Eagles went into the break with a 14 / 12 lead. The win secured them the Top spot on the Qualifier Log, 1 point ahead of the Leopards who won their final qualifying tie 33 / 8 against Border Bulldogs in East London.

Griquas will now play defending champions, the DHL Western Province, in Kimberley in the opening Round of the Premier Division on Friday 7 August. They recovered well from their 1st Round shock loss to the Bulldogs (20-13), winning their five remaining matches with a full house of points.

The Hino Valke turned in a strong 1st-half performance as they came out on top of the Down Touch Griffons in a high-scoring 57 / 41 (halftime 33 / 15) victory in their fixture at the Barnard Stadium in Kempton Park on Friday. The win allowed the Valke to jump into 3rd place. Boland (4th) finished their fixtures last weekend.

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Springboks vs All Blacks

We look at the key statistics from yesterday’s game and discuss some of the more telling moments of the match. Statistics are courtesy of Vodacom, opinion is this writer’s own. Where at all possible, blame will be placed squarely at the feet of non-WP players and / or the match officials, pitch conditions and Jan van Riebeeck.

They say you get lies, damn lies and statistics and when you look at the comparisons, it would appear to be a very close game, and indeed it was, with the All Blacks making decisive scoring breaks in injury time in the 1st half as well as the last 10 minutes of the game to sneak the victory. They clearly have higher fitness levels than the Springboks, both physically and mentally and managed to out last as well as out think the Springboks, the try scored by Richie McCaw being a prime example of excellent tactical superiority.

The statistic that is most interesting is the breakdown of meters run. When you analyze which positions made the most meters the following is apparent:

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South AfricaNew ZealandSpringboks (10) 20 / 27 (10) All Blacks (Final Score)

The South African Springboks and New Zealand All Blacks did battle in Round 2 of The Rugby

Championship at Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg at 17:05 SA Time (15:05 GMT, 12:05 Arg Time,

Sunday 03:05 NZ Time, Sunday 01:05 AEST). This was the live match discussion Article.

The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1 & M-Net on TV in SA.

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The Rugby ChampionshipIt is Round 2 of the abbreviated Rugby Championship of 2015 (Only 1 Round of matches against each side in 2015 as opposed to a double Round of matches against all sides – home and away in non Rugby World Cup years).

There are 2 games on Saturday 25 July.

The Action of the Round is kicked off in South Africa, where the Springboks take on the old foe, the All Blacks in Johannesburg and concludes with the late night match between the Argentinian Pumas against the Australian Wallabies in Mendoza.

On Saturday at Emirates Airline Park (Ellis Park) in Johannesburg at 17:05 SA Time (15:05 GMT, 12:05 Arg Time, Sunday 03:05 NZ Time, Sunday 01:05 AEST) referee Jérôme Garcès is in charge in the Springboks vs All Blacks game.

On Saturday at Estadio Malvinas in Mendoza, at Sunday 00:40 SA Time (19:40 Arg Time, 22:40 GMT, Sunday 08:40 AEST, Sunday 10:40 NZ Time) referee Jaco Peyper of South Africa is in charge of the Pumas vs Wallabies game.

The game between the Springboks and the All Blacks should be a humdinger of note and the result could go either way. Last time these 2 sides met, also at the same venue, the Springboks won by a measly 2 points. Both sides have made some bold selections, with 2 debutants on the All Blacks side and on the Springbok side we see the return of Heinrich Brüssow, who makes his 1st Springbok appearance since November 2011. One cannot help but feel that the All Blacks have ironed out most if not almost all the chinks in their armour, whereas the Springboks still seem to be a work in progress.

The Pumas and the Wallabies have each made 7 changes to their starting line-ups and the question begs whether Los Pumas could repeat their win over the Wallabies of last year in Mendoza. The Wallabies came back very strongly against the Springboks last week, so I quite fancy them for a win against the Pumas… in Argentina.

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The Castle Rugby ChampionshipIn a shortened version of The Rugby Championship, the 2 losers of Round 1 are practically in last chance saloon while victories for Round 1’s winners would set up a winner-takes-all Bledisloe Cup clash in Round 3.

It makes for a must-see weekend of action.

 

South AfricaNew ZealandSpringboks vs All Blacks:

It’s been 6 years since South Africa managed back-to-back wins over New Zealand and Saturday’s clash between the world’s top 2 teams represents an important chance to lay down a marker.

Last year’s last-minute victory for the Springboks in Johannesburg – only their 2nd win over the All Blacks since 2009 – ended a 3-year losing streak against their great rivals.

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GLRUThe Golden Lions Rugby Union has paid tribute to a former stalwart of the union, Charles Pieterse, who has passed away.

Pieterse played 50 games for the then Transvaal in the 1980s. He also represented the SA Barbarians and played all of his club rugby for Randfontein Rugby Club.

GLRU President Kevin de Klerk expressed his deepest sympathy to Pieterse’s family, on behalf of the union.

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Heinrich Brüssow

Heinrich Brüssow

The Springbok team to face New Zealand’s All Blacks for the 90th time shows 9 changes to the match-23 which did duty against Australia’s Wallabies, for the 2nd match in the condensed Castle Lager Rugby Championship, at Emirates Airline Park in Johannesburg on Saturday.

Heinrich Brüssow will make his 1st start for the Springboks since the 2011 Rugby World Cup, while Vincent Koch has been included on the bench for what could be his Test debut for South Africa.

JP Pietersen, who was initially picked on the right wing, has since starined his hamstring in training and is replaced on right wing by Cornal Hendricks, with Lionel Mapoe replacing Cornal Hendricks’ place on the bench.

Of the 9 changes, 3 are to the pack, 1 to the backline and 5 are on the bench. The backline is unchanged. Schalk Burger will captain the team from No 8.

Francois Louw will start in the No 7 jersey for the injured Marcell Coetzee in a positional change, with Heinrich Brüssow assuming the openside role (No 6). The only other changes to the starting line-up is at lock, where Lood de Jager takes over from Victor Matfield and on right wing where Cornal Hendricks will do duty.

On the bench, Vincent Koch will be joined by Lionel Mapoe, Trevor Nyakane, Flip van der Merwe and Warren Whiteley, who could make his 1st Test appearance in South Africa, in front of his home crowd in Johannesburg.

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SpringboksThe South African Rugby Union (SARU) on Thursday named the SA Schools and SA Schools A squads for the Under 18 International Series against England, France, Wales and Italy in August.

The teams, which consist of 26 players each, were selected by a panel of national and SA Schools selectors following the conclusion of the Under 18 Coca-Cola Craven Week in Stellenbosch.

The SA Schools squad will face Wales on 7 August in Stellenbosch, France on 11 August at Outeniqua Park in George and England on 15 August at City Park Stadium in Cape Town.

The SA Schools A squad, meanwhile, will take on Italy in Stellenbosch, England in George and Wales in Cape Town in their clashes, which will serve as curtain-raisers to the SA Schools matches.

Hein Kriek from Paul Roos Gymnasium has again been appointed the SA Schools coach, while Lance Sendin from Hugenote Hoerskool in Wellington will guide the SA Schools A team.

Following Western Province’s remarkable 95 / 0 victory against Eastern Province in the final match of the Under 18 Coca-Cola Craven Week, 12 players from the Cape side were selected in the SA Schools squad, while the remainder of the squad was made up of players from the Blue Bulls, Golden Lions, Eastern Province, SWD, the Valke and Griquas CD.

Eastern Province flyhalf Curwin Bosch, who was named the Coca-Cola Craven Week player of the year in 2014, was 1 of 4 players who retained their places in the squad, with the others being Blue Bulls scrumhalf Embrose Papier, wing Andell Loubser and Griquas CD looseforward Cobus Wiese.

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ABSA Currie CupThe ORC Griquas have their ABSA Currie Cup Premier Division destiny in their own hands when they complete their Qualifier campaign this coming Saturday at home against the SWD Eagles. Kick-off is at 15:00 SA Time.

As things stand at the moment, the Kimberley rugby side must win with a bonus point to secure their return to the top flight. The Leopards are snapping at the heels of the current log leaders and they are just 1 point behind Griquas, who have collected 21 points from their previous 5 matches.

Apart from winning promotion to the ABSA Currie Cup Premier Division, the Qualifier winner will also have the honour of hosting defending champions DHL Western Province in the opening fixture on Friday 7 August.

SWD enjoyed a BYE last weekend and they will be fresh and eager to launch a massive challenge against the promotional hopefuls in Kimberley. However, Griquas have recovered well from their 1st Round loss to the Border Bulldogs and have since won all 4 matches to put them in pole position for promotion.

The Leopards travel to East London for their final qualifying fixture against the Border Bulldogs. After an impressive start to the campaign, which included that surprise win over Griquas, Border have unfortunately lost all their early momentum as a result of 3 successive defeats.

The East London outfit have been severely hit by injuries to key players and after suffering a 43 / 20 loss against the Down Touch Griffons last week in Kempton Park, the Bulldogs can brace themselves for another busy afternoon against the high-scoring Leopards.

The Leopards, also, have no choice but to hunt for a bonus point win. Their only hope of overhauling the leaders is a surprise win by the Eagles over the Griquas, which would be a shock considering the recent form of these 2 teams.

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John Dobson

John Dobson

New DHL Western Province head coach John Dobson has selected a powerful combination for Saturday’s ABSA Currie Cup pre-season clash against the EP Kings in Port Elizabeth (kick-off 19:00 SA Time).

Having fielded a largely untried DHL WP XV selection against the Steval Pumas last weekend, Dobson has recalled most of his 1st-choice players for Saturday’s meeting.

Squad captain Juan de Jongh will team up with national skipper Jean de Villiers in the DHL WP midfield, with powerhouse flanker Rynhardt Elstadt named at No 6 upon his return from a leg injury which saw him miss most of the 2015 Vodacom Super Rugby season.

“It’s great to have Juan take charge and to welcome back Rynhardt Elstadt,” Dobson told the www.wprugby.com website.

“(Prop) JP Smith and (backs) Louis Schreuder, Johnny Kotze and Dillyn Leyds were not considered due to their niggles, which, fortunately, are not of a long-term nature, whilst (hooker) Mikey Willemse, as we know, picked up an injury last weekend which will see him out for 8 to 10 weeks.”

Oli Kebble, Bongi Mbonambi and Entienne Swanepoel will pack down in the front row, with Jean Kleyn and Ruan Botha forming an exciting 2nd row combination and Springbok Nizaam Carr, DHL WP’s new vice-captain, returning at No 8.

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Schalk Ferreira

Schalk Ferreira

The Eastern Province Kings have made a late change to their side that will host DHL Western Province at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth on Saturday (kick-off at 19:00 SA Time).

The union confirmed on Thursday that 31-year-old Schalk Ferreira will start in place of loosehead prop Lizo Gqoboka, who has picked up a knee injury.

Basil Short will take Ferreira’s place on the bench.

Western Province have named a strong side for the pre-Currie Cup friendly that will see the Springbok duo of Jean de Villiers and Juan de Jongh operate in midfield.

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Lappies Labuschagne

Lappies Labuschagne

Loose forward Lappies Labuschagne will captain the Blue Bulls in their warm-up game against the Canon Eagles in Japan next week, the union announced on Thursday.

Midfielder Burger Odendaal will fill in as Labuschagne’s deputy in the match scheduled for Friday 31 July.

Blue Bulls coach Nollis Marais earlier this week named a 27-man squad for the trip to Japan.

Springboks Francois Hougaard, Arno Botha, Deon Stegmann, Werner Kruger, Dean Greyling and Bandise Maku are all among the travelling group.

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Cheeky Watson

Cheeky Watson

The EP Kings have expressed their disappointment after former coach Carlos Spencer voiced his dissatisfaction at unpaid wages.

Spencer earlier this week parted ways with the Kings and – through his attorney David Jones – the former All Black has attributed his departure from the Kings to their continued troubles in meeting wage obligations.

The Kings on Thursday insisted that Spencer and his lawyers’ claims were “simply not true”.

“The initial problems we had with Carlos’ salary was due to his insistence of having his funds paid into an offshore account,” EP Rugby President, Cheeky Watson, said via a media statement.

Watson said this resulted in delays that arose out of the administrative compliance and paperwork issues.

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Steval PumasIn the 2nd match of their Cape Town tour, the Steval Pumas had to battle a strong wind to beat the Boland Cavaliers 38 / 19 at the Boland Stadium on Wednesday.

Head coach MJ Mentz made several changes to the team that played Western Province to give all players a run on tour.

Boland secured the 1st 5 points of the game whereafter the Pumas fought hard for their halftime score of 24 / 5. All the Pumas 1st-half tries were scored by the loose forwards. JJ Breet opened the score line for the Pumas, Jason Collin Fraser and Jaco Bouwer also scored a 5-pointer each.

Bouwer scored his 2nd try just before the end of the half with Justin van Staden successful with only 2 of the 4 conversions.

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Nollis Marais

Nollis Marais

Former Ricoh Black Rams flyhalf Louis Fouché has been named in the Vodacom Blue Bulls touring squad to Japan for their match against the Canon Eagles on Friday 31 July.

Fouché played for the Japanese outfit last year and has been included in the 27-man squad that will travel to Japan on Friday.

Springboks Francois Hougaard, Arno Botha, Deon Stegmann, Werner Kruger, Dean Greyling and Bandise Maku are all amongst the travelling group.

Vodacom Blue Bulls coach Nollis Marais said the trip will be an important one for the squad.

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Jano Vermaak

Jano Vermaak

With the arrival of Jano Vermaak at DHL Newlands, Western Province are faced with too much depth at scrumhalf and 1 No 9 possibly has to go.

Western Province have the luxury to choose from Nic Groom, Louis Schreuder, Jano Vermaak and up-and-coming youngster Godlen Masimla as their scrumhalf.

To manage all 4 highly rated No 9’s is a concern for Dobson, indicating that loaning 1 out may be the only option.

“To be honest that’s a fair source of stress,” Dobson said at a Cape Town media briefing.

“That’s a position we have real depth and Gert Smal is exploring that.

The issue with the Currie Cup is that unlike during Super Rugby where players lower down the pecking order have an opportunity to get game time in the Vodacom Cup, the next step down from Currie Cup is club rugby and Dobson said that “some of those guys will think its not for them.”

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Steven Sykes

Steven Sykes

Lock Steven Sykes will captain the EP Kings when they wind up their match preparations for next month’s Currie Cup campaign with a friendly against Western Province at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Saturday.

In a bid to give all his players some exposure in their build-up to the Currie Cup, Kings coach Brent Janse van Rensburg has predictably introduced a theme of rotation after their friendly against the Blue Bulls last weekend.

There is a new front row in Lizo Gqoboka, Martin Ferreira and Maks van Dyk, while Paul Schoeman will start on the side of the scrum following an injury to Thembelani Bohli last week.

At scrumhalf, Enrico Acker, who scored the only try against the Blue Bulls last weekend, will get his first chance to start for the Kings, while centres Marlou van Niekerk and JP du Plessis have an opportunity to prove themselves in midfield.

In the other change to the backline, Sylvian Mahuza returns from injury and will start on the wing, with Siviwe ‘Shakes’ Soyizwapi dropping to the bench.

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Carlos Spencer

Carlos Spencer

Could Auckland rugby icon Carlos Spencer be on the verge of making a dramatic return to the Blues as a skills coach under Tana Umaga?

It might seem a longshot but the door could be open according to Blues boss Michael Redman.

Spencer, among the most gifted footballers in New Zealand rugby history, wants to return to New Zealand from South Africa having quit Super Rugby’s Kings franchise which he says owes him substantial wages.

Redman told the Herald the Blues will decide within days whether to appoint a new skills coach, or make the job contestable. If it is the latter, Spencer – who approached the franchise this year – would “absolutely be an option and we would hope and expect he would apply.”

The 39-year-old Spencer is on the lookout for a new job after parting ways with South Africa’s Eastern Province Kings, the apparently financially troubled franchise which returns to the expanded Super Rugby competition next season.

His shock departure from the Kings, revealed yesterday, has cast a further spotlight on issues facing the expanded Super Rugby competition.

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Schalk Burger vs World XV

Schalk Burger vs World XV

Experienced loose forward Schalk Burger will become the 55th Springbok captain on Saturday when he leads South Africa out against New Zealand at Emirates Airline Park in Johannesburg.

The 32-year-old Burger has been named interim captain, in the absence of the injured Jean de Villiers and Victor Matfield. He assumes the captaincy from Matfield, who was ruled out of action in the short term after suffering a hamstring strain against Australia’s Wallabies on Saturday.

“Schalk has been a magnificent servant of Springbok rugby and he fully deserves this responsibility,” said Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer on Tuesday.

“The resilience he’s shown in coming back from serious injury and illness is the kind of qualities I look for in players as well as teams I coach.

“In my eyes, the captaincy is very important and something I never take lightly or want to cheapen. Schalk’s character and the fact that he has been a role model for so many through the years made this an easy decision.

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Carlos Spencer

Carlos Spencer

The Eastern Province Kings and New Zealand born coach, Carlos Spencer, have ended their association with immediate effect.

Spencer, who earned 35 caps for the All Blacks from 1995 to 2004, finished his playing career with the Lions in 2011 and then coached at the Lions and the Sharks, before linking up with the EP Kings in December 2013. He was appointed as the attack and specialist skills coach, and then took charge of the provincial team on their return to the Currie Cup Premier Division in 2014.

In 2015 he resumed his duties as the attack and specialist skills coach following the appointment of Brent Janse van Rensburg as the EP Kings head coach.

EP Rugby president Cheeky Watson paid tribute to Spencer for his contribution to the provincial team during his time with the union.

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Hi,

We hav a new SuperBru Pool for the Rugby World Cup for all to join!

As is usual, Rugby-Talk.com’s SuperBru Pools are open for ALL REGISTERED SUBSCRIBERS of Rugby-Talk.com, so if you are not yet registered here on Rugby-Talk.com, do so without delay! It is so easy to register and such fun to discuss rugby here.

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Heyneke Meyer

Heyneke Meyer

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer will announce an interim captain for South Africa on Tuesday.

Even though there’s been no formal confirmation, the fact that a media briefing has been scheduled to name an ‘interim’ captain confirms that current stand-in captain Victor Matfield will not play against New Zealand at Emirates Airline Park on Saturday.

Matfield, who suffered a hamstring injury in the 1st half of last week’s 20 / 24 loss to Australia’s Wallabies in Brisbane, was standing in for the injured captain Jean de Villiers.

And Meyer has made it very clear that De Villiers won’t be considered this week.

So who are the candidates in the current Springbok squad?

The front-runners, surely, are Francois Louw, Schalk Burger, Ruan Pienaar, Bismarck du Plessis and Adriaan Strauss – with Bryan Habana, Patrick Lambie and Warren Whiteley at long-odds.

If you really want to stir the pot, why not throw Flip van der Merwe’s name in there – seeing as he is now ‘available’ again.

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Jean de Villiers

Jean de Villiers

Springbok captain Jean de Villiers will get more valuable game time on Saturday as his quest to regain full match fitness and book his ticket to the Rugby World Cup continues.

De Villiers will start again for DHL Western Province when they take on the EP Kings in Port Elizabeth on Saturday after he played 60 minutes in WP’s 19 / 6 loss to the Steval Pumas last Saturday.

WP coach John Dobson confirmed that De Villiers would likely be given an hour once more.

“He’s hinted at playing longer this week but he’s not going to get it,” Dobson joked.

“It’ll be exactly the same – 60 minutes.”

There had been concerns over a calf strain following the Pumas game, but Dobson ensured that De Villiers was fine.

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Jurgen Visser

Jurgen Visser

Forwards Morné Mellett, RG Snyman and Deon Stegmann will all report for training on Tuesday, but fullback Jurgen Visser will miss the team’s match against Canon in Japan at the end of the month.

Visser injured a hamstring in training and has been ruled out till 3 August, team doctor Org Strauss confirmed on Monday.

“Jaco Visagie (toe fracture), Morné Mellett (concussion), RG Snyman (calf), Louis Fouché (hamstring) and Deon Stegmann (hip) will all train tomorrow,” Strauss said.

A number of long term injuries are on the mend.

Pierre Schoeman (knee, 15 August), Clyde Davis (medial ligament, 27 July) and Ruan Steenkamp (knee, 15 August) will be back in the next 3 weeks.

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Malakai Fekitoa

Malakai Fekitoa

Conrad Smith

Conrad Smith

New Zealand All Blacks coach Steve Hansen will have some big selection decisions to make this week, as his team prepares to take on South Africa’s Springboks at Emirates Airline Park in Johannesburg.

Having rested the bulk of the All Blacks who featured in the all-New Zealand Super Rugby Final (between the Hurricanes and Highlanders) in the 1st 2 Tests of the year, he has to decide how many of them will now be unleashed on the Springboks.

Ben Smith, Aaron Smith, Conrad Smith, Malakai Fekitoa, Julian Savea, Beauden Barrett, Dane Coles, Ben Franks, Victor Vito and James Broadhurst are all keen to get a run against Springboks in their Rugby Championship outing on Saturday.

Probably the most interesting selection would be what combination he chooses to oppose South Africa’s exciting new midfield pairing of Jesse Kriel and Damian de Allende.

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Conrad Smith

Conrad Smith

The All Blacks will be in the firing line when they take on the Springboks in Johannesburg on Saturday.

South Africa suffered a narrow loss to Australia’s Wallabies in their Rugby Championship opener in Brisbane at the weekend and New Zealand expect a backlash from their arch rivals at Emirates Airline Park.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has left Dan Carter and Sonny Bill Williams out of his 31-man squad to travel to Johannesburg, saying it is important that he tests the mettle of other players in a high-profile Test in front of a sold-out crowd.

“We have to be brave to find out some answers to some questions and what better place to find out some questions about people – it is a heck of a pressure situation, isn’t it, against one of the best teams in the world,” he told Fairfax Media.

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Flip van der Merwe

Flip van der Merwe

The Springboks have called Flip van der Merwe into their squad but are sweating over the fitness of Victor Matfield and Marcell Coetzee for Saturday’s clash with New Zealand.

Both players were forced to leave the field last Saturday against Australia – Matfield with a hamstring strain and Coetzee with a knock to his knee. According to Springbok team doctor Craig Roberts a call on the players’ availability in Johannesburg will only be made later in the week.

“Both are doubtful to play this weekend, but luckily neither of them are in doubt to miss the Rugby World Cup,” said Roberts on Monday.

“Jannie du Plessis and Schalk Burger also picked up knocks in Brisbane on Saturday and we will reassess them at our 1st training session of the week, on Tuesday. Apart from a lot of bumps and bruises, the rest of the squad should be fit for selection.”

The other injured players in the Springbok squad, Jean de Villiers, Fourie du Preez, Duane Vermeulen, Willem Alberts and Frans Steyn are not yet ready to be considered this weekend, Roberts added.

Pieter-Steph du Toit joined the squad in Johannesburg later on Monday and his progress will also be reassessed. With only 3 fit locks left in the squad, Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer has decided to call up the experienced Van der Merwe.

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Wallabies jubelant for the last gasp try by Tevita Kuridrani

Wallabies jubelant for the last gasp try by Tevita Kuridrani

 

The Australian Wallabies overturned a 13-point deficit to beat the South African Springboks 24 / 20 in an enthralling Rugby Championship contest in Brisbane on Saturday.

The TMO awarded Tevita Kuridrani a try after the final hooter, which capped a brave comeback by the hosts, who had trailed 20 / 7 early in the 2nd half.

The sides scored a try apiece late in the 1st half via Adam Ashley-Cooper and Eben Etzebeth but 2 early penalties from the boot of Handré Pollard meant the Springboks led 13 / 7 at the interval, which was a fair reflection of the opening 40 minutes.

The South African scrum was on top and their loose trio were doing well at the breakdown, although Israel Folau proved a threat every time he touched the ball for the hosts.

Test debutant Jesse Kriel announced his arrival on the international scene with a fabulous try early in the 2nd half but the visitors were made to do a huge amount of defending as Australia swung the territory and possession stats around.

A change in front-row personnel on both sides ended the Springboks’ set-piece dominance and the tandem threat of Michael Hooper and David Pocock helped the Wallabies hang onto the ball in the last half hour.

Hooper muscled his way over in the dying minutes to set up a grandstand finish, before Kuridrani managed to get the tip of the ball down on the chalk to snatch victory in dramatic style.

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