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Gary Gold

Gary Gold

The Cell C Sharks will travel to France in February 2016, on a pre-season tour ahead of the start of their Super Rugby 2016 campaign.

There are 2 games lined-up for the tour, with a visit to Stade Mayol 1st up to take on 2-time European champs Toulon on Friday 5 February before they face Toulouse on Thursday 11 February.

The Sharks believe that these matches against 2 of the best European clubs in recent times, marks an ideal opportunity to fine tune their preparation for Super Rugby.

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Chiliboy Ralepelle

Chiliboy Ralepelle

The Cell C Sharks have announced the signing of former Springbok hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle, who will join the franchise from the start of the new Super Rugby season.

The announcement was made on Friday on the Cell C Sharks website.

Commenting on his signing, Sharks Director of Rugby, Gary Gold said: “I am pleased to have acquired the services of a hooker with the pedigree of Chiliboy Ralepelle. He is a brilliant player with a strong work ethic and will be an asset to our squad.

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Robert du Preez snr

Robert du Preez snr

The Sharks (Pty) Ltd today confirmed the appointment of former Springbok scrumhalf, Robert du Preez (snr), who will join the Cell C Sharks coaching team. He will be an assistant coach during Super Rugby and will head up next year’s Currie Cup tournament.

Du Preez, coach of the Leopards who recently won the ABSA Currie Cup First Division trophy, joins the Cell C Sharks in November 2015.

Confirming his appointment, The Sharks Director of Rugby Gary Gold said: “We are immensely happy to confirm the appointment of Robert du Preez. It was an appointment that we thought long and hard about. We identified that we wanted to bring in a coach who fitted a particular profile, someone who was South African and someone that understands our unique culture and who also has a strong belief in a disciplined environment.

“We believe that Robert ticks every single box. The route that his coaching career has gone has been absolutely textbook in terms of the success he enjoyed at College Rovers, where he won 67 out of the 70 games he coached there, then with NWU-Pukke as well as the knowledge he has of unearthing the potential of young players coming through the ranks and obviously his recent success with the Leopards. He has certainly shown that there is a consistency to what he does.

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John Smit

John Smit

Cell C Sharks CEO, John Smit, has a message for disappointed Sharks fans after the team’s failure to reach the Currie Cup semifinals.

After playing to a 34 / 34 draw to the Toyota Free State Cheetahs in Bloemfontein at the weekend, the Durbanites finished 5th on the overall Currie Cup Log, to miss out on a playoff spot.

The Cell C Sharks appeared to have the game in the bag, leading 34 / 20 with 4 minutes remaining, but 2 late converted tries gave the Toyota Free State Cheetahs a draw – and a place in the semifinals at the expense of the Cell C Sharks.

Smit wrote a message to fans on the Cell C Sharks’ official Facebook page.

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Robert du Preez snr

Robert du Preez snr

Leopards coach Robert du Preez has been linked with a coaching role at the Cell C Sharks.

A newspaper report on Wednesday indicated that the former Springbok scrumhalf will coach the Cell C Sharks during next year’s Currie Cup competition, while also assisting Gary Gold during Super Rugby in 2016.

The report indicated that Du Preez, 52, will start his job in Durban on 1 November.

The Cell C Sharks did not respond when contacted about official confirmation on the matter.

Du Preez has now taken the Leopards to the ABSA Currie Cup First Division title, when they beat the SWD Eagles on Thursday evening (today).

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ABSA Currie CupThe final Round, Round 10, of league fixtures in the ABSA Currie Cup Premier Division takes place this weekend and all eyes will be on the Free State Rugby Stadium in Bloemfontein, where the Toyota Free State Cheetahs and the Cell C Sharks will battle it out for the remaining Semifinal spot.

Unbeaten Log leaders, the Xerox Golden Lions, are already assured of a home Semifinal, while the Vodacom Blue Bulls and DHL Western Province are also through to the Semifinals.

However, with only 2 points separating the Free State Cheetahs and Cell C Sharks on the Log standings, the 2 teams have everything to play for in what is effectively a Quarterfinal in Bloemfontein on Saturday afternoon.

The Free State Cheetahs currently have 21 points and the Cell C Sharks 19, and both teams know that a victory will book a meeting with the competition’s in-form and most prolific team this season, the Golden Lions, in Johannesburg. The losing team, meanwhile, will crash out of the competition.

DHL Western Province and the Vodacom Blue Bulls also have a lot to play for. Both teams are in action on Friday and their respective matches in Cape Town and Nelspruit kick off at the same time at 18:00 SA Time.

The Blue Bulls, 2nd on the Log with 34 points, face the Steval Pumas at the Mbombela Stadium and the Pretoria side knows that a win, even without a bonus point, will be enough to guarantee them a home Semifinal in the capital. Steval Pumas stalwart Marius Coetzer will deservedly earn his 100th cap when he takes to the field from the bench, while skipper Stefan Watermeyer will earn his 50th cap.

Western Province, in turn, face an injury-hit EP Kings side at DHL Newlands and the Capetonians will run out knowing that a bonus-point win is a must if they want to keep alive their slim hope of hosting a playoff match. However, for that to happen they must hope for a Blue Bulls defeat in Nelspruit.

Meanwhile, the free-scoring Golden Lions will round off their league commitments with a home clash against the bottom-of-the-log ORC Griquas in a 16:00 SA Time kick-off at Emirates Airline Park in Johannesburg.

Interestingly, the Nel-brothers, Ruhan of ORC Griquas and Jacques of the Golden Lions, will line up opposite each other, with both playing in the No 13 jersey for their respective teams. Ruhan, a Springbok Sevens international, plays outside centre for Griquas after playing on the wing against the Cell C Sharks last weekend. The brothers played together for the Golden Lions in the Vodacom Cup, but this will be the 1st time they will play against each other.

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Cell C SharksCell C Sharks Gary Gold has only made 1 change to his starting 15 which thrashed the ORC Griquas, for his side’s must win game against the Toyota Free State Cheetahs on Saturday.

The single change sees Garth April start at fullback for Odwa Ndungane, who shifts to the right wing in place of Wandile Mjekevu.

On the bench, Monde Hadebe replaces Kyle Cooper and veteran Waylon Murray comes in as cover for the backline.

It is do or die for both teams as the final pool clash between the Cell C Sharks and the Free State Cheetahs is effectively a quarterfinal game for both, chasing a Top 4 finish.

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ABSA Currie CupThe Xerox Golden Lions produced their most impressive display of the season when they demolished DHL Western Province 62 / 32 in their ABSA Currie Cup match at Emirates Airline Park on Friday evening in Johannesburg.

The Golden Lions stretched their unbeaten run to 9 games and their prolific form saw them stack up 135 points in their last 2 games. They are 9 Log Points clear of 2nd-placed Vodacom Blue Bulls, who outplayed the Eastern Province Kings by 48 / 27 also on Friday evening in Pretoria.

Although WP suffered their 3rd loss of their campaign against a rampant Golden Lions team, their 30 Log points means they are assured of 3rd place on the standings, irrespective of the outcome of their last Round clash this coming Friday against the EP Kings in Cape Town.

ORC Griquas were no match for the Cell C Sharks in Kimberley on Saturday as the Durban-based side ran in 6 tries for a 45 / 20 victory to move within 2 points of the 4th-placed Toyota Free State Cheetahs on the Log.

The Steval Pumas and the Toyota Free State Cheetahs played to a thrilling 37 / 37 draw in their encounter at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit on Saturday after the visitors led 24 / 16 at halftime.

Currently, the Xerox Golden Lions lead the way on 43 Log points, followed by the Vodacom Blue Bulls on 34, DHL Western Province are 3rd on 30, the Toyota Free State Cheetahs 4th on 21, followed by the Cell C Sharks on 19, Steval Pumas on 16, EP Kings on 12 and ORC Griquas are stone last on 8.

This coming weekend sees the Toyota Free State Cheetahs host the Cell C Sharks in Bloemfontein and the winner of this encounter will play the Xerox Golden Lions in 1 of the Semi-finals in Johannesburg. The Vodacom Blue Bulls just need a win in Nelspruit to set up a home meeting in the semi-finals against DHL Western Province.

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Philip van der Walt

Philip van der Walt

Philip van der Walt, a man who’s actions speak louder than words has been entrusted with the captaincy for the Cell C Sharks Currie Cup clash with the Vodacom Blue Bulls.

The leadership change comes after head coach Gary Gold has made a rotational switch in the locks, Australian David McDuling coming in for Marco Wentzel who gets a much-needed break after starting every match this season.

Flank Christiaan de Bruin gets his 1st start in a Sharks jersey after making his debut off the bench against DHL Western Province. He replaces Jean-Luc du Preez in the only other change to the starting line-up.

Springbok and injury-prone Jean Deysel returns to action on the bench after injuring himself in the Round 2 victory over the EP Kings.

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ABSA Currie CupThe Trans-Jukskei derby is the highlight of Round 6 and a sneak preview of a possible Currie Cup Final.

The undefeated neighbours, the Vodacom Blue Bulls and the Xerox Golden Lions, have been the standout teams and also the 2 most entertaining sides.

Johan Ackermann’s Golden Lions are leading the standings on 25 Log points – having collected a full-house 5 points in all 5 their outings this season.

The Blue Bulls are a solitary point behind, also winning 5 from 5 but won the last Round’s game without a bonus point.

The weekend’s action starts in Port Elizabeth on Friday where the winless Eastern Province Kings host a vastly-improved Toyota Free State Cheetahs team.

Saturday’s early match will see another winless team, ORC Griquas, host a struggling Steval Pumas outfit in Kimberley. Although the Pumas have 2 wins to their credit, including beating the Cell C Sharks in Round 1, they have struggled to maintain their early momentum.

The 3rd-placed DHL Western Province, who are a full 9 points behind the Golden Lions, face the Cell C Sharks in Durban in Round 6 – both desperate for some consistency in a season where promising victories have been soured by disappointing defeats.

Then, of course, we head to Pretoria for what may well be 1 of the best matches of the season.

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Cell C Sharks commemmorative jersey in celebration of 125 years.

Cell C Sharks commemmorative jersey in celebration of 125 years.

The Cell C Sharks will play in a commemorative jersey when they tackle DHL Western Province in a Currie Cup clash at Growthpoint Kings Park on Saturday.

This year the KwaZulu-Natal Rugby Union celebrates its 125 year anniversary, and in celebration of this proud milestone, the Sharks have opted to alter their kit for the game against WP.

According to the Sharks, the design of the jersey will have a striking resemblance to the 1st ever Currie Cup jersey the old Natal played in.

Thomas du Toit will pack down at loosehead prop for the Sharks against WP after he recently declared that his preferred position is tighthead. Du Toit believes that his physique is better suited to anchoring the scrum, although he wasn’t out of place at loosehead prop. Du Toit has been playing tighthead since his school days, however his selection at loosehead this week means that he is still being used as a utility prop much like Springboks Coenie Oosthuizen and Trevor Nyakane.

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ABSA Currie CupABSA Currie Cup pacesetters the Xerox Golden Lions and Vodacom Blue Bulls continued with their unbeaten run over the weekend, while 2014 winners DHL Western Province returned to winning ways after suffering 2 losses in a row.

The Xerox Golden Lions are top of the Premier Division Log standings thanks to a 37 / 21 win over the embattled Eastern Province Kings.

Despite racing into a 19 / 0 lead very early on, the EP Kings rallied back with a spirited performance and the Golden Lions could only seal their success with a late surge on Saturday evening in Johannesburg.

Thanks to their bonus-point win at home, the Golden Lions now Top the log with 25 Log points, 1 more than the Vodacom Blue Bulls, who triumphed 24 / 17 over a resilient Toyota Free State Cheetahs on a cold and wet Friday evening in Pretoria.

Western Province turned on the style in the 2nd half to score a much needed bonus-point 33 / 15 victory over the ORC Griquas at DHL Newlands on Saturday after suffering 2 consecutive defeats. The Cape side have 15 points and remains in 3rd spot.

At Growthpoint Kings Park in Durban, the Cell C Sharks held off a tremendous effort from the Steval Pumas to make it 2 wins in a row thanks to their close-fought 27 / 26 win over the visitors. The Sharks are 4th on the Log and just 2 points behind DHL WP.

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Cobus Reinach

Cobus Reinach

The Cell C Sharks host the Steval Pumas in their return leg ABSA Currie Cup match at Growthpoint Kings Park on Saturday, looking to use a number of factors to their advantage to reverse the 1st Round result.

Although that victory was something of a shock, the Pumas are a tough prospect at home and in the 1st Round, were able to use continuity following their Vodacom Cup success to overcome a new-look Cell C Sharks side, missing many players.

But that was a month ago and the team have been able to build continuity and develop partnerships and combinations and they will be looking for a growth in improvement as well as home ground advantage to see off the visitors from Mpumalanga.

Odwa Ndungane has been ruled out of the match with a rib joint sprain and has been joined on the sidelines by Michael Claassens who suffered a lower back contusion in last week’s clash with the EP Kings.

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ABSA Currie CupThe Xerox Golden Lions swopped places with the Vodacom Blue Bulls at the Top of the ABSA Currie Cup standings after their comprehensive 41 / 11 win over the Steval Pumas on Friday in Nelspruit, with flyhalf Marnitz Boshoff contributing 21 points with the boot.

The Vodacom Blue Bulls proved too strong for ORC Griquas in their Premier Division clash on Saturday in Kimberley and although they won their match comfortably by 46 / 32, they slipped to 2nd spot on the Log after the completion of Round 4, on points difference.

Elsewhere on Saturday, the Cell C Sharks scored a close-fought 24 / 20 win over the Eastern Province Kings after they overturned a 7 / 13 halftime deficit in the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.

DHL Western Province, the defending champions, suffered their 2nd successive away loss when the Toyota Free State Cheetahs pipped them by 28 / 21 in Bloemfontein on Friday evening despite a spirited rally in the 2nd half.

After 4 Rounds it is the Golden Lions now leading the Log thanks to their 30-point win in Nelspruit, closely followed by the Blue Bulls. The neighbours both have the maximum 20 points from 4 matches. Western Province and Free State Cheetahs (both 10 points) are 3rd and 4th, with the Sharks 5th and now just 1 point behind them. The Pumas (8 points), EP Kings (3 points) and Griquas (1 point) complete the standings.

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Cell C SharksThe Cell C Sharks will be looking for back-to-back victories when they meet the EP Kings in their 2nd encounter of ABSA Currie Cup matches in Port Elizabeth following their 33 / 25 1st Round win at Growthpoint Kings Park.

They are aware it’s not going to be easy after the EP Kings showed a much-improved performance against the Steval Pumas last weekend and they’re playing at home with its added advantages.

The backline that did duty against the Xerox Golden Lions last weekend has remained in tact following no injury concerns and they have a desire to develop the cohesion further, while amongst the forwards Gerhard Engelbrecht trades places with Thomas du Toit and will gain his 1st start of the campaign after 2 games played off the bench in the only change to the entire starting XV.

On the bench, JC Astle returns from injury while exciting young prospect Garth April is handed his 1st senior jersey in Cell C Sharks colours.

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ABSA Currie Cup2 Of the tournament’s pace-setters are going head-to-head on Saturday. But it is no ordinary match. It is the BIG north-south derby – the Vodacom Blue Bulls hosting DHL Western Province in the feature match of the weekend, when they meet in Pretoria on Saturday.

They are 2 of only 3 remaining unbeaten sides.

However, before we get there we have 2 Friday games – which will feature 3 teams still seeking their 1st win.

The winless Eastern Province Kings host an ambitious Steval Pumas team in Port Elizabeth, while the central unions partners (and rivals) ORC Griquas and Toyota Free State Cheetahs will meet in Kimberley.

Griquas and Cheetahs are also both still winless.

The Cell C Sharks, fresh from their 1st win of the season, host the high-flying Xerox Golden Lions in Saturday’s early match before we get to the BIG derby at Loftus Versfeld.

The Vodacom Blue Bulls are currently sitting at Top of the standings – as a result of their greater points difference over their Gauteng neighbours, the Xerox Golden Lions – with both on a full-house 10 Log points.

DHL Western Province are 1 Log point further back (9) in 3rd place.

The Cell C Sharks (5 points), Steval Pumas (4), Toyota Free State Cheetahs (1), EP Kings (1) and ORC Griquas (1) trail behind the pace-setters.

We look at all the Round 3 matches!

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Michael Claassens

Michael Claassens

Head coach Gary Gold has made changes to the Cell C Sharks side to take on the Xerox Golden Lions this Saturday at Growthpoint Kings Park, as he looks to overcome one of the form sides this year.

Unbeaten, with maximum Log points and riding a wave of confidence and continuity, the Golden Lions make a strong argument as possible title contenders, something not lost on Gold who warns that his charges will have it tough this weekend.

Paul Jordaan and André Esterhuizen form a youthful but exciting new centre partnership for this week’s match, while S’bura Sithole is welcomed back into the fray, slotting in on the wing.

The hugely experienced Michael Claassens gets his 1st start of the campaign, as does Francois Kleinhans, who comes in for the injured Jean Deysel.

Up front, Dale Chadwick returns from injury, replacing Juan Schoeman in the final change with Lourens Adriaanse, Khaya Majola and Kyle Cooper not considered due to injury.

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Ryan Kankowski

Ryan Kankowski

Springbok loose forward Ryan Kankowski has been hit hard in the pocket, after he was ordered to pay R 322 500.00 to his former agent.

Kankowski was ordered to pay the amount to his previous management team, In Touch Sports, in an arbitration hearing that concluded on Wednesday.

The 29-year-old, capped 20 times for the Springboks, was also ordered to pay back interest on the amount from May 2010 until final settlement, plus legal fees.

The case was 1st heard in the High Court in Durban, but was later referred to arbitration by agreement between the parties.

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ABSA Currie CupThe Xerox Golden Lions, Vodacom Blue Bulls and the DHL Western Province all achieved successive wins in the 2nd Round of the ABSA Currie Cup played over the weekend.

In Durban, the Cell C Sharks opened their account with a win over the Eastern Province Kings, which means the EP Kings, Toyota Free State Cheetahs and the ORC Griquas are still searching for their 1st win after 2 Rounds of Premier Division matches.

At Emirates Airline Park in Johannesburg the Xerox Golden Lions survived a bruising battle against the Steval Pumas to win 44 / 27 (halftime 20 / 10) on Friday night. In another Friday evening clash Vodacom Blue Bulls flyhalf Tian Schoeman contributed 21 points to steer his team to a 36 / 12 victory over the ORC Griquas at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria. Griquas led 12 / 6 at halftime.

DHL Western Province beat the Toyota Free State Cheetahs 9 / 3 in driving rain on Saturday afternoon to hand new coach, John Dobson, his 1st ABSA Currie Cup win at DHL Newlands in Cape Town. In the late Saturday kick-off the Cell C Sharks fought off a determined challenge from the Eastern Province Kings to claim a 33 / 25 (half-time 18 / 10) victory at Growthpoint Kings Park.

The Blue Bulls and the Golden Lions have both collected the maximum 10 Log Points on offer from their 2 outings and the Gauteng rivals are closely followed by defending champions, Western Province, who have 9 Log Points.

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Jean Deysel

Jean Deysel

Paul Jordaan

Paul Jordaan

The Cell C Sharks will welcome the return of centre Paul Jordaan to their matchday-22 for Saturday’s clash with the Eastern Province Kings.

Jordaan, who is on the bench for the Currie Cup Round 2 encounter, has been plagued by injuries since his arrival at the Sharks but has shown glimpses of brilliance when he has strung some games together.

Jean Deysel is also back in the starting line-up after being sidelined with injury – replacing Jean-Luc Du Preez who copped a blow against the Pumas last week.

Elsewhere in the forwards, Juan Schoeman, having impressed off the bench last week, is handed a starting berth for the injured Lourens Adriaanse.

Brother of Jean-Luc, Daniel du Preez, replaces Khaya Majola at flank who is also out injured.

In the backline, Sibusiso Sithole is suffering from injury and is replaced on the wing by the experienced Odwa Ndungane who is himself back from a training ground knock.

Andre Esterhuizen shifts from right wing to left wing while the midfield partnership of Wandile Mjekevu and Heimar Williams remains the same.

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Jean-Luc du Preez

Jean-Luc du Preez

Thomas du Toit

Thomas du Toit

Lourens Adriaanse

Lourens Adriaanse

The Cell C Sharks are sweating over the availability of 3 players who were injured in their Currie Cup loss to the Steval Pumas in Nelspruit last Friday.

Props Lourens Adriaanse and Thomas du Toit and loose forward Jean-Luc du Preez sustained blows during the Sharks’ 33 / 24 defeat and could be sidelined for some time.

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Cell C SharksXerox Golden LionsThe Cell C Sharks scored a 33 / 29 victory over the Xerox Golden Lions in an ABSA Currie Cup warm-up match at Woodburn Stadium in Pietermaritzburg on Friday evening.

More than a win, Cell C Sharks Director of Rugby, Gary Gold, asked for his team to show the necessary determination in this warm-up match, and on that score, he will come away from this match well-pleased with their effort, with a victory thrown in for good measure.

Joe Pietersen opened the scoring after both sides showed good attacking intent early in the game, each having a chance to score but not closing out, before he successfully chased his deft grubber through the middle, the ball popping up nicely for him to score under the posts.

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Cell C SharksAfter a dismal Super Rugby season the Cell C Sharks have gone through a major revamp allowing a new crop of players to step up.

With the exodus of a number of the Sharks’ Springbok players to overseas contracts, and many of their big-name players plying their trade at The Rugby Championship and Rugby World Cup for the Springboks, a next generation of Sharks players both young and new need to man-up to the big stage.

Sibusiso ‘S’bura’ Sithole is 1 of those players that will be a key element to their success and he acknowledges that although not a senior player, he does bring a wealth of experience and knows that he has a big role to play.

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Pieter-Steph du Toit

Pieter-Steph du Toit

Marcell Coetzee

Marcell Coetzee

The Sharks have released 2 Media Releases today, with the 1st 1 bearing the news that Pieter-Steph du Toit is leaving the Union. The 2nd Media release focusses on Marcell Coetzee re-signing with the Sharks and also reveals the other candidates who have chosen to continue to ply their trade at the Sharks.

 

Pieter-Steph du Toit:

Springbok lock Pieter-Steph du Toit, today confirmed his departure from the Cell C Sharks at the end of his contract, which expires in October 2015.

Having made his debut for The Sharks in 2012, du Toit with his strong physicality and presence has become an influential player for the franchise with strong performances that earned him Springbok colours in 2013.

Commenting on his departure, The Sharks CEO John Smit said: “We are terribly disappointed to lose a player of the calibre of Pieter-Steph du Toit. Despite our best efforts to keep him in the province, he has chosen to move on.

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David McDuling

David McDuling

The Cell C Sharks have announced the signing of Reds lock, David McDuling, ahead of the ABSA Currie Cup season.

The Sharks press release reads as follows:

We are pleased to announce the signing of Reds lock, David McDuling, who will join the Cell C Sharks until the end of 2016.

Known for his never-give-up attitude and athleticism around the park, McDuling made his Super Rugby debut in 2014 against the Crusaders and has since amassed a total of 12 Super Rugby caps for the Reds. He also won the inaugural season of the National Rugby Championship with Brisbane City and had the most carries and run metres of any 2nd rower in the competition.

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Willem Alberts

Willem Alberts

Stade Français have confirmed the signing of Springbok back row Willem Alberts who will join the club after the Rugby World Cup.

The Top 14 champions have not brought in many players this off-season, generally prioritising quality over quantity, as Alberts joins Will Genia in the French capital.

Alberts arrives from the Cell C Sharks on a 3-year deal and will join a back row which already features Sergio Parisse, Raphaël Lakafia and Antoine Burban, while promising youngster Sekou Macalou also arrived over the off-season from Massy.

The 31-year-old made his Springbok debut back in 2010 and has scored 7 tries in 32 tests.

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