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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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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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ABSA Currie CupThe ORC Griquas maintained their slender 1 point lead in the ABSA Currie Cup qualifying race thanks to their 57 / 33 win over the Hino Valke in Kempton Park, Johannesburg on Saturday, while the Leopards stayed in the hunt by beating Boland Cavaliers 61 / 17 in Potchefstroom.

Heading into the final Round of matches next week, the Griquas and Leopards are the only teams in contention for the qualifying spot to the ABSA Currie Cup Premier Division. Griquas are in front on 21 points, with the Leopards nipping at their heels on 20 points.

Down Touch Griffons put in a powerful 2nd half performance to beat the Border Bulldogs 43 / 20 despite trailing by 5 points at the break.  The win lifted the Griffons from the basement to 4th on the log while SWD Eagles, who were not in action over the weekend, slipped to last place.

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Barbarians5 of South Africa’s major stars will join the Barbarians line-up for 2 high-profile games this November.

Flyhalf Pat Lambie, lock Victor Matfield, prop Tendai Mtawarira and centre Jean de Villiers from the current Springbok squad will be joined by veteran forward Bakkies Botha against Gloucester on 17 November and Argentina on 21 November.

The Barbarians, who celebrate their 125th anniversary this year, will name their coach later this month and add further major names to their squad for the games at Kingsholm and Twickenham in due course.

In total, the South Africa quintet will bring 416 caps of international experience to the group. Botha, Matfield and De Villiers were all World Cup winners in France in 2007.

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Jean de Villiers

Jean de Villiers

The Steval Pumas were too strong for Western Province at the Drakenstein Correctional Centre, walking away with a 19 / 6 victory on Saturday.

The Pumas led by 19 / 3 at halftime thanks to 3 tries and 2 conversions but the hosts fought back strongly in the 2nd half to keep the visitors scoreless.

Currie Cup coach John Dobson was happy with certain aspects of the team’s performance in a match which saw Springbok captain Jean de Villiers start as he continues his comeback to top level rugby from a serious knee injury.

“Given the amount of time we had to prepare, compared to them, I am not disappointed with the performance. The only thing that’s disappointing is that it is Western Province and it’s this field with the occasion and we would have liked to have won the game.

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Vodacom Blue BullsEP KingsThe Vodacom Blue Bulls defeated the EP Kings 33 / 10 in their friendly rugby match at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth on Friday.

After an early penalty by EP Kings fullback Scott van Breda, the Blue Bulls took the lead when No 8 Arno Botha barged over near the posts.

The visitors then struck twice in the final 4 minutes of the 1st half with tries by wing Travis Ismaiel and flyhalf Tian Schoeman, both converted by Schoeman, to lead 21 / 3 at halftime.

After the break, the Bulls scored further tries by centre Dries Swanepoel and flanker Roelof Smit from a lineout maul before EP crossed in the 69th minute when scrumhalf Enrico Acker scored their only try of the match.

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AustraliaSouth AfricaWallabies (7) 24 / 20 (13) Springboks (Final Score)

The Australian Wallabies and South Arfican Springboks did battle in The Rugby Championship at

Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane at 12:05 SA Time (20:05 AEST, 22:05 NZ Time, 07:05 ARG Time, 10:05 GMT).

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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Hi,

We have 2 NEW SuperBru Pools for all to join!

  • An abbreviated version of The Rugby Championship 2015 starts on 17 July 2015, so hurry up and do not delay to register for it!
  • The ABSA Currie Cup 2015 starts on 7 August 2015, register for it too, whilst the iron is hot!
  • The Rugby World Cup 2015 starts on 18 September 2015, however, there is no provision for Pools for it yet on SuperBru… hang in there, soon we’ll have a Pool for that one too!

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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The Rugby ChampionshipIt is Round 1 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 is 1 games on Friday 17 July and 1 game on Saturday 18 July.

The Action of the Round is kicked off in New Zealand, where the All Blacks take on Los Pumas of Argentinia in Christchurch and concludes with the match between the Australian Wallabies against the South African Springboks in Brisbane.

On Friday at AMI Stadium in Christchurch at 09:35 SA Time (19:35 NZ Time, 04:35 ARG Time, 17:35 AEST, 07:35 GMT) referee Craig Joubert is in charge in the All Blacks vs Los Pumas game.

On Saturday at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, at 12:05 SA Time (20:05 AEST, 22:05 NZ Time, 07:05 ARG Time, 10:05 GMT) referee Nigel Owens of Wales is in charge of the Wallabies vs Springboks game.

The game between the All Blacks and Los Pumas should only produce 1 result and that is a comfortable win for the All Blacks. All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has opted for a very experienced run-on side and replacement bench, whereas Argentinian coach Daniel Hourcade has included a number of inexperienced players in a very experimental Pumas side.

The game between the Wallabies and Springboks is extremely difficult to call but Rugby Championship and Tri-Nations history favours the Wallabies greatly at home in Australia against the Springboks. Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has opted to haul back some big guns, 2 from overseas (Matt Giteau and Drew Mitchell) and 2 recent Australian-based Wallabies who missed some of last year’s internationals (Will Genia & Quade Cooper) to bolster his match-day 23. Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer has changed just 1 player from the run-on side which demolished the World XV side last weekend, namely Schalk Burger in place of Warren Whiteley at No 8 and has made 4 further changes on the bench.

One would have to flip a coin or be very bold to nominate a winner here, but I suppose the home side goes in with a slight advantage.

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Schalk Burger vs World XV

Schalk Burger vs World XV

Schalk Burger is back in the Springboks’ starting line-up for Saturday’s Rugby Championship clash against the Australian Wallabies at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.

Burger’s inclusion at No 8, after a great performance as replacement against the World XV last weekend in Cape Town, is 1 of 5 changes to the Springboks’ match-23 for this match.

The other 4 changes are on the bench, where props Heinke van der Merwe and Frans Malherbe, as well as Lood de Jager (lock) and Lwazi Mvovo (wing) have been included.

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer said the changes were all part of the plan to rotate players in the build-up to the Rugby World Cup.

“We’re expecting a massive contest for the ball on the ground on Saturday and with Schalk there next to Francois Louw and Marcell Coetzee, as well as Bismarck du Plessis, we’ve got a lot of players who are very good at the breakdowns,” he said.

“Warren Whiteley played very well last weekend, but he knows exactly where he stands and will play again for the Boks this season. For this match though, we decided to go with this specific loose trio.

“I’ve said last week that we will make changes, but it’s also important to keep some form of momentum. Saturday’s match is going to be massive in the context of our season and we have to ensure we tick the right boxes.

“It will be good to see what Heinke, Frans, Lood and Lwazi can do from the bench, while we’ve also opted to keep continuity in the starting team. There will most likely be changes for every match this season as we keep one eye on the World Cup.

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Matt Giteau

Matt Giteau

Matt Giteau, Quade Cooper and Will Genia return to the Wallabies starting line-up for an epic encounter against the Springboks at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday.

Giteau will earn his 93rd Test cap in the No 12 jersey following a 4-year absence from the Wallabies program.

Playing inside Giteau will be the Reds pairing of Will Genia and Quade Cooper, who return to the run-on team together for the 1st time since November 2013.

The returning trio make up 3 of the 4 total changes to the team which ran out against England at Twickenham in the final Test of the 2014 Spring Tour, with the other change being the return of Tevita Kuridrani at outside centre.

Head coach Michael Chieka said, “I could not have been happier with the 1st two weeks of preparation here in Queensland. These players know they represent a squad of over 50 players who will have some involvement within the Wallabies program at different stages of the year.

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ABSA Currie CupORC Griquas and Leopards, the 2 front runners on the ABSA Currie Cup qualifying log, face crunch matches this coming Saturday which could potentially have a huge impact on their promotion ambitions to the ABSA Currie Cup Premier Division.

1st-Placed ORC Griquas (16 points) travel to the Barnard Stadium in Kempton Park, Johannesburg, to face the Hino Valke. Leopards (2nd on 15 points) host 3rd-placed Boland Cavaliers in Potchefstroom. As things stand, it is currently a straight shoot-out between Griquas and Leopards for that vital promotional spot and with just 1 more Round remaining after Saturday’s Round of games, neither one can afford a slip up.

5 Of the 7 sides will play their penultimate fixtures of the qualifying campaign this weekend. Boland Cavaliers and SWD Eagles have both already played 5 matches to date while the rest of the sides have played 1 less encounter.

Boland complete their schedule on Saturday when they travel to Potch to take on the Leopards, while SWD have a bye.

Leopards moved to within a point of Griquas last weekend thanks to a hard-fought 24 / 20 win over a resilient Down Touch Griffons in Welkom.

While the Potch side are the favourites on their home ground against Boland, they know that nothing but a bonus-point win will keep them in the race. Boland will be no pushovers and last weekend they were deserved winners over the Hino Valke.

Griquas visit 2nd from bottom Hino Valke in Kempton Park and the Log leaders, who enjoyed a rest last weekend, should be favourites to add another win to their tally of 3 from 4 outings so far.

Down Touch Griffons are rooted at the bottom of the Log with 1 win from 4 and only 5 league points to show and they host the Border Bulldogs (4th) in the remaining Saturday fixture. Border showed good form during the early Rounds, however, 2 successive defeats have shattered their ambitious promotional hopes.

The 3 final fixtures take place next Saturday (25 July) and the winner of the qualifying Round will compete in the ABSA Currie Cup Premier Division, which kicks off on 7 August.

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Cornal Hendricks

Cornal Hendricks

Springbok winger Cornal Hendricks has signed a contract with Western Province Rugby and will be available for the DHL Stormers from the start of the 2016 Vodacom Super Rugby season.

The speedster, who originally made his name at international Sevens level, will return to his roots as a DHL Stormers player – having played his early provincial rugby for Boland, before becoming a full-time Sevens player in 2012 and then joining the Free State Cheetahs in 2014.

Hendricks, 27, made his Test debut in June of last year, whilst the 2013 Springbok Sevens Player of the Year was also a key member of the Commonwealth Games Gold medal-winning SA Sevens team in July 2014.

In all, he has played 11 Tests (as well as an additional match against the World XV) for the Springboks, scoring five tries – including a try on debut against Wales and a memorable solo score against the All Blacks in their hard-fought Rugby Championship tussle in Wellington in September 2014.

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JC Janse van Rensburg

JC Janse van Rensburg

French-based loosehead prop JC Janse van Rensburg will join the DHL Stormers ahead of the 2016 Vodacom Super Rugby season.

The powerful former Lions captain is currently in his third season with French club, Bayonne, but he will bolster the DHL Stormers’ propping resources as of November 1 with Steven Kitshoff having decided to further his career in France.

Janse van Rensburg, 29, toured Europe with the Springboks in 2012 (without getting any game time), as well as making over 50 appearances for the Lions at Super Rugby level and winning well over 50 provincial caps for the Golden Lions

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Heyneke Meyer

Heyneke Meyer

The Springbok selectors on Sunday finalised the squad of 31 players that will travel to Brisbane for the opening match of The Rugby Championship, next Saturday at the Suncorp Stadium against the Wallabies.

The touring squad consists of 22 players who did duty against the World XV at DHL Newlands in Cape Town on Saturday.

The only member of the match-day squad to stay behind in South Africa is Jean de Villiers, who has been released to DHL Western Province to get game time in their ABSA Currie Cup warm-up matches in the next fortnight.

The players who did not feature against the World XV, but will travel to Brisbane, are Lionel Mapoe, Lwazi Mvovo, Rudy Paige, Jan Serfontein, Morné Steyn, Schalk Brits, Lood de Jager, Frans Malherbe and Heinke van der Merwe.

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SpringboksThe Springboks got their year off to a winning start on Saturday with 46 / 10 victory over a star-studded World XV at Newlands in Cape Town.

In ice-cold conditions, close to those expected at the World Cup later this year, the Springboks outscored their visitors by 7 tries to 1 – including 3 for fullback Willie le Roux – but Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer will take the result with a pinch of salt, since most of the players in this World XV side have been on holiday for a month, and it showed.

There was some positive feedback in terms of the home team’s ability to create scoring opportunities, which bodes well for their chances in The Rugby Championship that kicks off next weekend, but they were never really given the defensive examination Meyer had hoped for, apart from a short period when they were force to defend with 13 men.

The Springboks’ inability to hold onto the ball for long periods was, however, a concern as they spent a disproportionate amount of the game in their own half.

The biggest cheer of the night was reserved for Jean de Villiers, who made his long-awaited return from injury on the hour mark before providing the pass that put Le Roux over for his hat-trick.

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ABSA Currie CupThe Leopards return to action this weekend against Down Touch Griffons in the ABSA Currie Cup Qualifier race with a mission to close the gap on current Log leaders, ORC Griquas, with a solid performance in Welkom.

The Leopards, who enjoyed a BYE last weekend, find themselves 6 points behind the Griquas, who smashed the Griffons 47 / 20 last Saturday in Kimberley. the Down Touch Griffons find themselves 2nd from bottom, however, they would have been encouraged by their competitive 1st half performance against Griquas.

With bonus points now paramount for them, the Leopards have very little choice but to chase a bonus try victory if they want to narrow the gap on the frontrunners. They might find this challenging, especially if the Griffons can apply the same determination they showed during a tightly contested 1st half agaist the Griquas in Kimberley.

Elsewhere on Saturday mid-table Boland Cavaliers are home to Hino Valke (5th placed) in Wellington. The home team will no doubt draw a lot of positives from their fine comeback last weekend to force a thrilling 28 / 28 draw against bottom-placed SWD Eagles. the Valke, meanwhile, scraped a surprise 1 point win over the in-form Border Bulldogs and they will fancy their chances against a Boland side who could win only 2 out of 4 so far.

The 2 teams have 8 points each but the Hino Valke have played 1 game less. This match will be televised live on SuperSport 1 and kick-off is at 15:00 SA Time (13:00 GMT).

In the only the Friday night fixture the SWD Eagles are home to 3rd-placed Border Bulldogs in George (kick-off 19:00 SA Time). The Bulldogs are still smarting from their surprise loss against the Valke in East London last weekend, a result which severely dented their slender hopes of challenging for 1st place.

The Eagles have leaked 120 points so far in the campaign, the same amount as Boland, and they will have to improve their defence if they want to stop the much-improved Border side.

Current Log leaders, the ORC Griquas, have a BYE this weekend.

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Jean-Pierre "JP" Smith

Jean-Pierre “JP” Smith

Brumbies prop Jean-Pierre ‘JP’ Smith will return to Cape Town from Australia and will form part of Western Province’s Currie Cup squad.

Smith is capable of playing at both loosehead and tighthead prop and he will bolster the Western Province prop resources during their ABSA Currie Cup title defence in the absence of Steven Kitshoff and Frans Malherbe, who are with the Springbok squad at present, and Vincent Koch, who is on loan to the DHL Stormers for Super Rugby only.

25-Year-old Smith is a former Paarl Gym scholar, who has represented Western Province at Under 19 and Under 21 level, as well as playing 5 senior matches for the Vodacom Cup team in 2010.

Western Province Director of Rugby Gert Smal commented: “JP’s ability to play on either side of the scrum is a big boost for us, as Currie Cup matchday squads are made up of just 22 (with just 1 prop on the bench).

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Flip van der Merwe

Flip van der Merwe

Flip van der Merwe is 1 South African who might have a point to prove when he takes to the field in a World XV jersey against the Springboks at Newlands on Saturday.

The towering lock is not in Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer’s preliminary Rugby World Cup squad, and the coach went on record in May announcing that Van der Merwe was unavailable for international rugby.

After that it was reported that a ‘contract dispute’ may be the reason behind the drama, but Van der Merwe revealed in Cape Town on Thursday that there had been communication issues surrounding his availability.

“I’m not selected, it’s as easy as that,” Van der Merwe, who has been named on the World XV bench for Saturday, said.

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South Africa 2015 Rugby World Cup Jersey

The Minister of Sport has appealed to corporate South Africa to throw their weight behind the Springboks’ Rugby World Cup campaign in a public message.

Mr Fikile Mbalula asked South Africa’s employers – large and small – to join their workforce in supporting the campaign to wear their Springbok jerseys on BokFridays – starting tomorrow.

“It’s that time of year again where we have to wear our green and gold to support our national pride; the Springboks,” he said.

“Corporate South Africa, black green or yellow, Rainbow Nation, unite behind the Springboks and show your support by wearing the green the gold like me; the Springboks No 1 supporter.”

The Minister’s appeal came on the eve of the Springboks’ 1st match of the season – against a World XV at DHL Newlands on Saturday – and marks the countdown in earnest to the Rugby World Cup kick off in England on 18 September.

Fans have been asked to share the gees by wearing their officially licensed Springbok jerseys on the 11 Fridays between tomorrow and the big kick off.

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Duane Vermeulen in hospital

Duane Vermeulen in hospital

Springbok No 8 Duane Vermeulen said he is feeling positive after undergoing surgery on his neck in Durban on Wednesday.

Vermeulen, the South African Rugby Player of the Year in 2014, will take a few days off to recuperate before starting with his rehabilitation process.

“I’m feeling good and positive and can’t wait to start my rehabilitation,” said Vermeulen.

“All the staff at the hospital made things so easy for me and I would really like to thank them for their effort – I really was in great hands.”

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer said the national side’s medical team will work tirelessly to get Vermeulen ready to be considered for Rugby World Cup selection.

“Duane is mentally very tough and he is a warrior who has always bled for his country and I’m expecting exactly the same attitude from him towards his rehabilitation,” said Meyer.

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Bakkies Botha, captain of the World XV side to face the Springboks

Bakkies Botha, captain of the World XV side to face the Springboks

 

Bakkies Botha will captain the World XV against South Africa’s Springboks at DHL Newlands in Cape Town this Saturday.

The veteran lock leads an experienced side containing former Springboks JJ Engelbrecht (Blue Bulls) and Gurthrö Steenkamp (Toulouse) and with Flip van der Merwe (Blue Bulls) among the replacements.

Head Coach Robbie Deans described Botha, 35, as the “natural choice” to take charge as the invitation side prepare to test Heyneke Meyer’s men as they start their build-up to the Rugby World Cup.

“For a long time Bakkies has been a huge presence in the game here so it’ll be a real occasion when he leads the World XV out against his country,” said Deans.

“He’s really enjoyed this week, mixing with those he’s played against and he’s been a big contributor in helping the group come together. He was leading before he was appointed leader.”

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Jean de Villiers, Springbok captain, with knee dislocation injury against Wales in November 2014.

Jean de Villiers, Springbok captain, with knee dislocation injury against Wales in November 2014.

 

Jean de Villiers will make an inspirational comeback to top-level rugby from the bench for the Springboks, almost 8 months after suffering a horrific knee injury, when they take on the World XV at DHL Newlands in Cape Town on Saturday.

Victor Matfield will captain the Springboks, with Warren Whiteley making his 1st start in the Green and Gold at No 8, while 2 uncapped players, Jesse Kriel and Vincent Koch, have been included in the match-23.

If De Villiers makes an appearance it will be his 1st rugby since suffering a dislocated knee and ligament damage in the final match of 2014, against Wales in Cardiff.

De Villiers has gone through more than 7 months of rigorous rehabilitation and is now completing a remarkable recovery.

“Jean is a massive asset to South African rugby and it’s wonderful to know his return to play is progressing so well that we can give him some game time from the bench on Saturday,” said Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer.

“The mere fact that he is back in shape and ready to play is testament to his incredible work-ethic and his professional approach to the game. Jean has really put in hours and hours of extra work to get here and he is a great example for any player on how to put yourself in the best possible position to recover.

“We will still manage how he is used against the World XV and afterwards we’d like him to return to Western Province, where he will be available for their ABSA Currie Cup warm-ups.”

Meyer said the decision to hand the captaincy to Victor Matfield for the time being was not a difficult one. Ruan Pienaar has been given the Vice-captaincy.

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William Small-Smith

William Small-Smith

Vodacom Bulls centre William Small-Smith will further his career at the Toyota Cheetahs from next season.

The 23-year-old will represent the Vodacom Blue Bulls in this year’s Currie Cup before heading for Bloemfontein in time for next year’s Super Rugby competition.

Small-Smith was schooled at Grey College in Bloemfontein where he represented Free State in the Craven Week.

After school, he represented teams like the Junior Springboks, Blitzbokke, UP-Tuks and the Vodacom Blue Bulls.

It is believed that Small-Smith wanted out at the Bulls and asked to join the Cheetahs.

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Pat Lambie

Pat Lambie

Just a couple of days after being declared fully fit and available for the Springboks, Pat Lambie was back in hospital.

Fortunately for Lambie, the news this time around was nowhere near as serious as the neck injury that ruled him out of the remainder of Super Rugby in April.

Still, Lambie was taken straight to hospital from Cape Town Stadium after he picked up a knock to the head that left a cut.

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Jesse Kriel

Jesse Kriel

Talented young Vodacom Bulls utility back Jessie Kriel looks set to be the 1st player to be given an opportunity to wear the problematic Springbok No 13 jersey at the start of the international season building up to the Rugby World Cup.

Kriel played most of his Super Rugby season at fullback, but he has played a lot of his rugby at outside centre.

The former SA under 20 star switched with regular captain Jean de Villiers in joining Stormers star Damian de Allende in the Bok shadow team’s midfield during the open training session at Cape Town Stadium on Tuesday afternoon.

De Villiers is unlikely to start the match as it will be his 1st appearance on the playing field since undergoing reconstructive knee surgery after being struck down by injury in the final Test of 2014 against Wales in Cardiff.

So Kriel, who did most of the training in that position on Monday, can be considered a near certainty to make his debut in the season pipe-opener.

Obviously Springbok assistant coach Johan van Graan was not in a position to divulge whether the team that trained was the team that will play when he was questioned by media following the training session, but he didn’t contain his excitement at what Kriel could bring to the position if he does play.

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