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Cell C SharksThe Cell C Sharks can count on 3 Springboks who return to the side to take on the Stormers at Newlands on Saturday evening in what is shaping up to be a massive South African Conference derby.

JP Pietersen and Frans Steyn have returned from Japan and no time has been wasted introducing them to the starting line-up, while Willem Alberts has been given the all-clear to play after spending time rehabbing an injury.

JP Pietersen and Frans Steyn have also proven themselves at training and they form a new centre partnership.

Ryan Kankowski will join the elite group of Vodacom Super Rugby centurions when he plays in his 100th game for the Cell C Sharks, in a loose-forward bolstered by the return of Albert, especially in light of the kind of talent that lurks at the back of the Stormers scrum in the shape of SA Rugby Player of the Year in 2014, Duane Vermeulen.

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Bismarck du Plessis

Bismarck du Plessis

The Cell C Sharks third round Vodacom Super Rugby match against the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld proved to be a very physical encounter that was contested passionately by the respective teams on the day.

During the match there was an off the ball incident that took place involving Bismarck du Plessis and Victor Matfield. On reflection after the match, Bismarck realised that he acted inappropriately with his choice of language used and would like to apologise for his behaviour.

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Willem Alberts

Willem Alberts

JP Pietersen

JP Pietersen

Francois Steyn

Francois Steyn

 

The Cell C Sharks have been boosted by the return of Springboks Frans Steyn and JP Pietersen from Japan, as well as flank Willem Alberts from a hamstring injury.

Both Japanese-based backs were spotted training with the Sharks on Monday after their respective teams were eliminated from the league in Japan.

Meanwhile, barn-storming loose forward Alberts has been training with the squad for sometime now and is finally in contention for selection as the Sharks prepare to travel to Cape Town to take on the undefeated Stormers.

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Super RugbyThe Toyota Cheetahs, Vodacom Bulls and DHL Stormers were victorious in 3 terrific Vodacom Super Rugby matches, as the competition really took off in the 3rd Round.

On Friday evening, the Toyota Cheetahs sneaked home against the Blues in Bloemfontein, winning their 2nd match of the season by 25 / 24 to remain 1 of only 4 unbeaten teams in 2015.

Saturday saw 2 local derbies of the highest calibre, with Test-like intensity. Mirrroing the encounter in Bloemfontein, the results of both these matches were in the balance right until the end.

The Vodacom Bulls prodcued their maiden win of the season when they beat the Cell C Sharks by 43 / 35 in a superb match in Pretoria. Then the DHL Stormers clocked their 3rd win from 3 matches when they beat the Emirates Lions by 22 / 19 in Johannesburg.

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Cell C SharksGood news appears to suddenly be coming in clusters for the Cell C Sharks, who have followed on from their opening Vodacom Super Rugby win against the Emirates Lions with what for director of rugby Gary Gold will be a pleasing wave of important players returning to the mix.

On Sunday morning, the day after his team scored what he called a “relieving” win over the Lions, Gold received the news that the 2 Japanese clubs that backline kingpins JP Pietersen and Frans Steyn play for were both knocked out of their competition this past weekend. That means they will be back sooner rather than later, and will probably be available for the crucial game against the Stormers in Cape Town the week after next.

“I suppose it’s not nice for those players to lose but it is good news for us,” grinned Gold.

Then on Monday a man that Gold would really like to see in action as soon as possible as he is such an important cog in the forward machine, Willem Alberts, took part in full training for the first time. He could also be ready for the Stormers game.

Also at the 2-hour middle of the day training session on a Kings Park outerfield was Ryan Kankowski. The former Springbok No 8 is now into his 2nd week back from Japan and will be available for Saturday’s clash with the Vodacom Bulls at Loftus.

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Gary Gold

Gary Gold

Cell C Sharks Director of Rugby Gary Gold signed a sigh of relief when his team managed to bounce back and score an unlikely bonus point at a flooded Kings Park against the Lions on Saturday.

Both the Sharks and the Lions would have been looking to hit back from disappointing losses at their respective home grounds last week after dominating the play.

However, it was the Sharks that seemed to play the torrential conditions better on the night with Pat Lambie managing the game incredibly well with his boot.

Coach Gold was visibly disappointed after the loss to the Cheetahs in the opening round, and although there were no big smiles on his face at the press conference on Saturday, he had to explain that it was relief more than anything to come away with five points.

“I think relief is the word,” Gold said afterwards.

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Marcell Coetzee

Marcell Coetzee

Springbok forward Marcell Coetzee scored 2 tries as the Cell C Sharks defeated the Emirates Lions 29 / 12 at a drenched Growthpoint Kings Park in Durban.

Kick-off was very nearly delayed thanks to the torrential rain that hit Durban throughout Saturday, with only the most dedicated of fans remaining in the Kings Park stands.

The natural expectation therefore was an error-strewn contest with knock-ons galore, but to credit both sides the standard of their handling and execution was better than predicted.

The Lions grew in confidence and stature as the match progressed, doing their damage off the tee through Marnitz Boshoff, but ultimately came up significantly short.

A test of tactical nous in the wet, Springbok halfbacks Cobus Reinach and Pat Lambie both showed real intelligence in their decision-making, a fine example being the build-up to Odwa Ndungane’s try.

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Lubabalo 'Giant' Mtyanda

Lubabalo ‘Giant’ Mtyanda

The Cell C Sharks welcome back Bismarck du Plessis to the team to host the Lions at Growthpoint Kings Park in one of a handful of changes to last week’s side.

Director of Rugby, Gary Gold, explaining the rationale in making new selections, explains: “Due to injuries, we have had to necessitate a few changes to the team.

“Apart from those injury-enforced changes, we have tried to keep the team as consistent as possible, so that players have another opportunity to get the wrongs of the past weekend right.”

They will have to make do without the likes of wing S’bura Sithole, Mouritz Botha and Beast Mtawarira, but that opens the door of opportunity to Odwa Ndungane, debutant lock Lubabalo “Giant” Mtyanda and Dale Chadwick.

2 Very exciting young talents in Thomas du Toit and Andre Esterhuizen come onto the bench for this week’s match.

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Johan Ackermann

Johan Ackermann

The Cell C Sharks may have had a less than auspicious start to their Super Rugby campaign, but they remain one of the fancied teams in the competition.

Lions coach Johan Ackermann, speaking to ahead of his team’s trip to Durban for their Round 2 match on Saturday, said the Cheetahs did not do his team any favours with their surprise 35 / 29 win over the Sharks last week.

On top of that, the Lions were also well below par in their 8 / 22 loss to the Hurricanes.

They are aware the welcome mat won’t be rolled out at Growthpoint Kings Park this week.

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Lwazi Mvovo

Lwazi Mvovo

Cell C Sharks winger Lwazi Mvovo says defeat in their season opening Super Rugby match hardly matters, as it is more important to finish well.

“It’s still the 1st round and there’s a lot of rounds to go. The most important thing is not how you start, but how you finish,” he said in Durban on Tuesday.

The Durban franchise suffered a surprise 35 / 29 home loss to the Toyota Cheetahs last weekend in one of several shock results in the competition.

The defending champions, the Waratahs, and multiple winners the Crusaders also lost their opening games.

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Tendai 'Beast' Mtawarira

Tendai ‘Beast’ Mtawarira

The Sharks suffered a major injury scare on Saturday when Tendai Mtawarira left the field in pain, with the early diagnosis indicating a severe injury.

However, after undergoing scans on Monday, a calf tear was downgraded to a calf strain and although he will not be considered for selection for a few weeks, this does not constitute a long term injury.

“Losing an international is a big loss to any team, obviously we aren’t happy about losing Tendai, but there’s nothing we can do, we have to move on,” said assistant coach Sean Everitt.

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Tendai 'Beast Mtawarira

Tendai ‘Beast Mtawarira

Lodewyk De Jager

Lodewyk de Jager

Bismarck du Plessis

Bismarck du Plessis

We are just 1 week into the Super Rugby season and there is already a lengthy list of Springboks sidelined by injury.

With captain Jean de Villiers a non-starter thanks to a knee injury which has put a question mark over his availability for the World Cup, he has been joined by Eben Etzebeth, Bismarck du Plessis, Tendai Mtawarira, Lodewyk de Jager amd Julian Redelinghuys.

Etzebeth hurt his chest in a warm-up game against the Cheetahs at Newlands, and is only expected back in the 3rd round – the 3rd consecutive year he has missed the start of the competition.

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Cell C SharksCell C Sharks Director Of Rugby, Gary Gold, has named the Sharks side for the season-opener at Growthpoint Kings Park on Saturday.

He said, “The Cheetahs for me are one of the most dangerous sides to play against and on their day they have the ability to beat any team.

“We are expecting a physical battle against a well-coached team, who have some exciting young players in their squad.

“Our guys have prepared well for the tournament and there is a fantastic spirit in the camp. We want to play an exciting brand of rugby that our fans expect and score tries. The only way to win matches is to score tries and to score tries you need to keep the ball in hand. Our players are determined and will give nothing less than 100% effort on the park.”

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Willem Alberts

Willem Alberts

It is still unsure as to when Springbok Willem Alberts will return from injury as the Sharks prepare to face the Cheetahs in Round One of Super Rugby this weekend.

Alberts, who damaged a hamstring while on duty with the Springboks, has been out of action since before the Rugby Championship in August last year.

The flank went down with the injury right before the Boks first game against Argentina at a soggy Loftus Versfeld, this allowed Warren Whitely to make his debut.

Alberts also missed the next game against in Salta.

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Cell C SharksSharks Director of Rugby, Gary Gold has released the names of his 40-man squad for Vodacom Super Rugby 2015.

The following players were not considered for selection at this stage due to injury: JC Astle, Paul Jordaan, Stephan Lewies, Tonderai Chavhanga, Willem Alberts.

The Cell C Sharks commence their Vodacom Super Rugby campaign this Saturday, 14 February 2015 against the Toyota Cheetahs at Growthpoint Kings Park.

The match is scheduled to kick off at 17:05 SA Time.

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Jean Deysel

Jean Deysel

Michael Claassens

Michael Claassens

The Cell C Sharks announced that loose-forward Jean Deysel, who has spent the past 6 months playing for Toyota Verbiltz in Japan, will be making a welcome return to the Cell C Sharks for the 2015 Super Rugby season.

Deysel who to date has been capped an impressive 117 times for the Cell C Sharks, will join the squad immediately.

South African born scrum-half, Michael Claassens, who currently plays for Toulon in the French Top 14, has also been signed on a 2-year deal. He is expected to join the team as soon as his playing commitments in France have concluded.

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ToulonCell C SharksToulon (5) 10 / 12 (9) Sharks (Final Score)

Toulon and the Cell C Sharks did battle in a friendly cross-hemisphere match prior to the

Super Rugby season at Stade Mayol, Toulon at 22:00 SA Time (21:00 French Time, 20:00 GMT).

This was the live match discussion Article.

The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1 & CSN on TV in SA.

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Michael Horak

Michael Horak

Cell C Sharks defensive coach, Michael Horak, is looking forward to the test an unstructured Toulon team can give the Sharks defensive line ahead of their warm-up match on Thursday.

The Sharks are in the latter stages of their preparation for a Super Rugby campaign that kicks off against the Cheetahs on 14 February.

They will face a Toulon side famous for its big names and dominating style of rugby as a warm-up match in order to get their systems and structures right.

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ToulonCell C SharksThe Sharks match against Toulon will see 2014’s best European team take on the last year’s best South African team, but will it be rust versus readiness?

The men from Durban, bar a brief hit-out against Rovers last Thursday, have not seen competitive rugby in over 3 months, while their opponents, Toulon, are in the business end of their season.

There is bound to be some rustiness from the South Africans admits former Sharks prop Eduard Coetzee as he discusses what it will be like for them to face the Galácticos of rugby.

Coetzee is well versed in both countries’ rugby having spent 5 years with the Sharks before finishing off his career in France with Bayonne and finally Biarritz where he made 125 appearances.

“It is clear that for us that this meeting will be something special,” Coetzee said.

“We will assess our ability while facing the best team in the Northern Hemisphere.

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Cell C SharksThe Bulls are the South African team to have laid down the early marker ahead of the Vodacom Super Rugby season that kicks off in a fortnight and after watching the Pretoria team deal with Saracens, the Sharks will aim at a quality performance when they play Toulon in France on Thursday.

In direct contrast to last season, when Jake White’s arrival as director of rugby created much hype and a few bold predictions about the Sharks’ chances long before the competition had started, the Durban franchise has been operating under the radar during the off-season.

The low key end to 2014, with the Currie Cup team bowing out in the semifinal stage as opposed to going all the way to the trophy the year before, has probably contributed to the low key build-up, as has the fact that the new director of rugby, Gary Gold, has until late last week been based in Japan. Consultant Brendan Venter has been overseeing the preparations for Super Rugby, but he is not known for making bold assertions to the media.

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Cell C SharksOn Thursday 5 February, 2015 the Cell C Sharks will play Toulon in a pre-season friendly at the Stade Mayol in a North vs South Challenge match.

This match gives fans the opportunity of seeing the likes of Mouritz Botha and Renaldo Bothma (forwards) and Paul Perez and Waylon Murray (backs) in action for the Cell C Sharks, along with team regulars in a competitive pre-season hit-out against the four time French National competition winners and back-to-back Heineken Cup champions in 2013 and 2014.

 

The following players make up the touring squad to France:

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Michael Horak

Michael Horak

Sharks defensive coach Michael Horak believes that their system of 6 coaches will put them ‘half a yard ahead of the opposition’ in this year’s Super Rugby competition.

The Sharks coaching system includes Director of Rugby Gary Gold, who is set to return to Durban after his Japanese club team was dumped out in the semifinals last weekend, and technical advisor Brendan Venter, who has been running the show in Gold’s absence.

Additionally, the 3 Currie Cup coaches for the Sharks in Brad Mcleod-Henderson (forwards coach), Sean Everitt (backline coach) and Paul Anthony (off-the-ball coach), have all been retained alongside Horak.

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Francois Steyn

Francois Steyn

Gary Gold

Gary Gold

New Sharks boss Gary Gold and Springbok Frans Steyn will both be back in Durban soon.

This follows after the semi-finals of the Japanese Top League – which will see the Wild Knights play Júbilo in the Final, after they defeated the Brave Lupus and Kobe Steelers respectively.

It means the Sharks Director of Rugby, Gold, and the Bok utility back, Steyn, among others, are heading home for Super Rugby.

In the first semi-final the Wild Knights ran in 4 first-half tries and added 1 more in the second stanza as they avenged 2 earlier defeats this season to the Toshiba Brave Lupus, winning 50 / 15.

Steyn’s Brave Lupus team suffering a heavy defeat means that the Sharks versatile back can return to his Durban franchise earlier than expected.

Steyn will be following his newly appointed coach Gary Gold home after the Kobe Steelers lost 12 / 41 in another hammering to Júbilo who reached their first ever Top League Final.

Katsuyuki Kiyomiya’s side ran in 2 tries in the first half and 4 in the second to upset the Steelers, who had finished the regular season on top of the Group A standings.

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Gary Gold

Gary Gold

Gary Gold and Andries Bekker’s Kobe Kobelco Steelers have crashed out of the Japanese Top League with a 43-12 semi-final defeat to Yamaha Júbilo on Saturday.

According to reports, Bekker made little impact in the game and failed to take control of the lineouts, while Jaque Fourie did not play because of injury.

Kobe coach – and new Sharks Director of Rugby, Gary Gold – cut a dejected figure in the stands as his team, who had topped the log, were taken apart by a side they had beaten by a similar margin during the group stage.

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Tim Swiel

Tim Swiel

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.

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Thomas du Toit

Thomas du Toit

Sharks loosehead prop Thomas du Toit hopes he can continue the impressive form he displayed during an amazing 2014 debut season.

In his first year after school, the Paarl Boys’ old boy has already made a huge impression at the Sharks.

At just 19, he made his Super Rugby debut for the Durban franchise, coming off the bench in his first game against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein, before starting the team’s final three fixtures, including the wildcard play-off against the Highlanders and semi-final against the Crusaders. He also made eight appearances in the Currie Cup, helping the Sharks reach the domestic semi-finals.

Du Toit got a taste of international rugby too as he starred for the Junior Springboks at the Junior World Championship in New Zealand, while he was a surprise pick for the Barbarians squad.

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Cell C SharksThis is the third in the series of Cell C Sharks Squad Contenders for Super Rugby 2015.

The Sharks have lost the services of Anton Bresler (Edinburgh) and Peet Marais (Brive), between seasons, and have gained the services of Mouritz Botha (from Saracens) as well as the backup services of Giant Mtyanda. Stephan Lewies is still on a longer term injury list and should return somewhere in the middle of the tournament.

The early question raised is how Pieter-Steph du Toit will fare, coming back from injury.

We discuss the players IN the Super Rugby Group, and not all the options beyond that.

In this Article we look at the contenders for LOCKS in the Cell C Sharks 2015 Super Rugby group, and whether they could force their way into Bok contention.

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Cell C SharksAs Super Rugby preparations are underway by all franchises early in January, a quick peek at some of the things popping out at the Cell C Sharks.

We take a quick look at Brendan Venter’s role while Gary Gold is still in Japan. Renaldo Bothma tells of his tremendous growth at the Sharks in pre-season and Giant Mtyanda is drafted in to train with the Sharks as extra lock cover.

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Willem alberts

Willem alberts

Pieter-Steph du Toit

Pieter-Steph du Toit

Springboks Pieter-Steph du Toit and Willem Alberts are back training with the Sharks after long injury layoffs.

Lock Du Toit missed much of last season with a serious knee injury, while loose forward Alberts was laid low after a back operation last July.

The duo are back in training as the Sharks start their preparations for this year’s Super Rugby competition. Both have been training well and showed no discomfort from the injuries.

There was however less good news for lock Stephan Lewies, who will reportedly remain sidelined with injury for an extended period.

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Super RugbyWith Super Rugby fast approaching it is important to have a look at what each of the teams are doing in their preparations and who they have at their disposal.

As the teams prepare for this brusing competition there is the oppourtunity to test out combanations as well as see how the new boys go.

The Sharks will travel to French champions Toloun to test out their game plan against the Galacticos of rugby while the Bulls will take on the Cheetahs in a traditional pre-season match in Polokwane.

The Australasian sides will also warm up against each other with the Highlanders setting up a comprehensive pre-season schedule due to the first round bye.

The ‘transfer market’ has made the upcoming Super Rugby season an exciting prospect with some big names in James O’Connor and Nick Cummins returning to Australia.

Menawhile, the Bulls have bolstered their squad with some excellent former Cheetahs players.

Finally, and unsurprizingly, Ma’a Nonu has made another move – this time back to the Hurricanes.

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Cell C SharksThis is the second article in the series of Cell C Sharks Squad Contenders for Super Rugby 2015.

The Sharks have had no change in hooker personnel since the 2014 Super Rugby season, but are very adequately covered in Bismarck du Plessis and Kyle Cooper, with further backup from Monde Hadebe.

We discuss the players IN the Super Rugby Group, and not all the options beyond that.

In this Article we look at the contenders for HOOKERS in the Cell C Sharks 2015 Super Rugby group, and whether they could force their way into Bok contention.

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Jack Wilson

Jack Wilson

The Cell C Sharks have lured a New Zealand Sevens player to Durban as they continue to bolster their own ranks.

New Zealand-born wing Jack Wilson has signed for the Sharks from English Premiership club Saracens and will immediately join the Super Rugby squad.

The talented wing, 25, arrived in London in December 2012 and has scored 6 tries in 19 appearances for Saracens.

His arrival follows shortly after confirmation that Saracens’ England lock Mouritz Botha will also make Durban his home next year. Botha, unlike Wilson, will only join the coastal franchise in January.

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