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Springbok Rugby

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Heyneke Meyer

Heyneke Meyer

Twelve months ago the Springbok talent cupboard looked bare – with a dearth of back-up in several key positions.

Now, less than 10 months out from the start of the World Cup, South African coach Heyneke Meyer believes he has ‘plugged all the gaps’.

Speaking after his team’s hard-earned 22-6 win over Italy in Padua at the weekend, Meyer said he is “very happy” with the state of the Boks’ player resources.

Tighthead prop and fullback were among the two positions where depth was a major concern, but the added bonus of Nizaam Carr’s outstanding debut means Meyer’s already well-stocked loose forward resources have an additional arrow in the quiver.

“I said Nizaam was running great lines in training (last week),” Meyer told a media scrum.

“The test was to take that into a Test match where there isn’t a lot of space and he came through with flying colours.”

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Jannie du Plessis

Jannie du Plessis

Warren Whiteley

Warren Whiteley

Springbok prop Jannie du Plessis has not recovered from a hamstring injury and will miss their final tour game against Wales in Cardiff on Saturday.

Du Plessis sustained the injury against England at Twickenham on 15 November and missed this past weekend’s game against Italy in Padua (Padova).

He was expected to be back for the Wales Test, but needs more time on the sidelines.

Warren Whiteley picked up a calf injury during training recently and also has not recovered sufficiently to play in the final Test against Wales on Saturday.

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CricketA selection of Springboks will take on the Proteas in a T20 match at the Wanderers stadium in Johannesburg on 5 December for the Nelson Mandela Legacy Cup.

National captain Jean de Villiers and vice-captain Victor Matfield have both been included in the star-studded Springbok T20 cricket team.

Matfield scored 23 runs from 23 balls and hit four fours against the Proteas in Cape Town earlier this year.

The two Springbok centurions will be joined by Willem Alberts, who took two wickets in as many balls at Newlands, as well as Willie le Roux, who scored 16 from eight balls including a big six.

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John Philip "Bakkies" Botha

John Philip “Bakkies” Botha

John Philip “Bakkies” Botha, born 22 September 1979 in Newcastle, KwaZulu-Natal has had a glittering international career that drew to a close on 22 November 2014.

He will continue to play for his French Club Toulon and has even hinted at retiring in South Africa with the Currie Cup.

In his professional career Botha has won everything there is to win.

With the Blue Bulls he won the Vodacom Cup in 2001 and then went on to add three Currie Cup titles to his name in 2002, 2004 and 2009.

With the Bulls in Super Rugby, Botha was part of the first South African team to lift the trophy in 2007 (in the professional era – with Transvaal winning the Super 10 in 1993), and then again in 2009 and 2010.

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Special EditionThe starting side who did duty for the Springboks on Saturday as well as one replacement, have all left the Springboks to return to their respective Clubs in France and Japan.

  • Johan Goosen returns to Racing Metro in France
  • Bryan Habana returns to Toulon
  • JP Pietersen returns to the Panasonic Wild Knights
  • On the Springbok bench, Gurthrö Steenkamp returns to Toulouse in France

Of course Bakkies Botha has now retired from International Rugby and accordingly also leaves for Toulon, whilst Morné Steyn (who was not used on Tour) returns to Stade Français.

Schalk Burger joins his Japanes Club, Suntory Sungoliath.

This leads us to the burning question as to the composition and changes in the Springbok run-on team and 23-man squad for Saturday’s encounter with Wales, who held a lead over the All Blacks till the 69th minute, this past Saturday, before conceding a blitz of 3 tries, which blew the score against them out of proportion.

Mind you, one more Springbok tourist is also leaving the squad, thus unavailable for selection, namely Seabelo Senatla, who was released to the Springbok Sevens squad (or Blitzbokke as they are affectionately referred to) for the 2 remaining HSBC Sevens World Series Tournaments in 2014… the tournament in Dubai and the one in South Africa the week thereafter.

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Seabelo Senatla

Seabelo Senatla

Seabelo Senatla has been released from the Springbok touring squad at the request of the Springbok Sevens and will return to South Africa on Sunday.

Senatla will join the Blitzbokke as they prepare for the next two tournaments in the HSBC Sevens World Series, in Dubai and Port Elizabeth.

“We’ve got a very good relationship with Neil (Powell) and the Sevens, so we’re happy to help,” said Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer.

“At this stage we won’t be calling up a replacement as we have enough cover at the back.

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SpringboksSpringbok coach Heyneke Meyer and national captain Jean de Villiers both lauded the performance by South Africa in their 22-6 (8-6 at half-time)victory over Italy in Padua (Padova) on Saturday afternoon.

The Springboks scored three tries to nil, with Coenie Oosthuizen, Cobus Reinach and Bryan Habana crossing the Italians’ try-line. Pat Lambie added a penalty goal to lift him to 100 Test points and Handré Pollard slotted two conversions.

It was the first time since June 2008 that the Springboks had managed to keep Italy from scoring a try and the first time ever the Azzurri failed to cross the South African try-line in a Test in front of their home fans.

“I’m very happy with the result and fact that we didn’t concede any tries and no points in the second half,” said Meyer. “I’ll always prefer a try-count of 3-0 instead of 5-3.”

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Bakkies Botha

Bakkies Botha

Heyneke Meyer & Jean de Villiers

Heyneke Meyer & Jean de Villiers

Heyneke Meyer paid tribute to Bakkies Botha, who announced his retirement from international rugby shortly after the Test.

“Bakkies will go down in history as one of the greatest Springboks of all time,” said Meyer of the 85-times capped lock forward. “He is a giant on the field and off it and never gave an inch, which personifies what Springbok rugby is all about.

“I’ve coached him for a very long time and while I’m immensely very proud of the player he’s become, I’m even more proud of the man Bakkies has become. I’ll forever be very proud of having been his coach.”

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Bakkies Botha

John Philip “Bakkies” Botha – The Springbok ENFORCER calls time on his International career.

Springbok lock and Rugby World Cup winner Bakkies Botha has announced his retirement from international rugby.

Botha, who made his Test debut on 9 November 2002 against France in Marseille, while his 85th and final appearance for South Africa was last Saturday, when he came on as a replacement in the 31-28 victory over England at Twickenham.

During a stellar career, the 35-year-old lock won the Rugby World Cup with the Springboks in 2007 and was victorious at almost every other level of the game.

He has winners’ medals from the Castle Lager Rugby Championship (Tri-Nations), British & Irish Lions Series, Vodacom Super Rugby, Absa Currie Cup and Vodacom Cup, as well as the Heineken Cup and French Top 14.

Botha is the seventh most-capped Springbok of all time, is a three-time SA Rugby Player of the Year nominee (2003, 2004 and 2005) and holds the world record for the most Tests as a lock combination in the starting line-up with Victor Matfield (63).

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South AfricaItalyThe Springboks played Italy in a Test for the first time in 1995 when they were reigning as World Champions. They won the match 40-21, and since then have played Italy 10 times.

The Springboks have won all 11 but then unusually for Northern Hemisphere teams, Italy have played more Tests against South Africa in South Africa rather than at home – seven in South Africa vs four at home. But those 11 matches were not the first rugby contacts between the two countries.

Rugby in Italy started to get organised in the late 1920’s. Before that it was a haphazard affair when wandering Brits and contact with France that had led to matches here and there. In the 1920’s it enjoyed the support of Benito Mussolini, dictator of Italy, a man who saw himself as the emperor of a new Roman Empire. As in imperial times, people enjoyed the blood sport of the amphitheatre, so in this new empire Il Duce would have rugby. Not that he had played the game as at 1,69 he would have been small even as a scrumhalf.

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Johan Goosen

Johan Goosen

Trevor Nyakane

Trevor Nyakane

Teboho Mahoje

Teboho Mahoje

Coenie Oosthuizen

Coenie Oosthuizen

The Springbok starting team to face Italy in Padova on Saturday shows four changes from the side which beat England at Twickenham last week, with three new faces amongst the pack and one in the backline.

There are also five changes on the bench, with Nizaam Carr and Julian Redelinghuys included in a Test match-23 for the first time.

Trevor Nyakane will start his first Test for South Africa at loosehead prop, while Coenie Oosthuizen moves up from the bench to replace the injured Jannie du Plessis at tighthead. Teboho ‘Oupa’ Mohoje returns to the starting line-up while Johan Goosen has been selected at fullback.

Joining Carr and Redelinghuys on the bench, are Gurthrö Steenkamp, Lood de Jager and Willie le Roux. Tendai Mtawarira has been given a break after carrying a heavy workload recently.

“I’m excited to see what these guys can do on Saturday in what will be a stern Test against a fired-up Italy,” said Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer.

“We planned to make a few shifts for this Test as I’d like to see if these players can make the step up. The guys coming in deserve their opportunities and seeing that we won’t have our overseas-based players available next week against Wales, it made sense to bring a few of them in this week.”

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Rudy Paige

Rudy Paige

Marnitz Boshoff

Rudy Paige and Marnitz Boshoff have been called up to the Springbok squad for the last week of the Castle Lager Outgoing Tour in Cardiff next week.

Paige, from the Vodacom Blue Bulls and the Xerox Golden Lions’ Boshoff will join in the squad on Sunday to provide specialist cover at scrumhalf and flyhalf as the Springboks’ overseas-based players are not available for the last match of the season due to the fact that it falls outside the Test window.

“This means that Jano Vermaak, Morne Steyn and Johan Goosen are not available to face Wales, which is why we had to get in specialist cover at scrumhalf and flyhalf,” said Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer.

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Francois Louw

Francois Louw

Francois Louw says he had been carrying “for years” an underlying neck problem that forced him to have surgery in September.

A pinched nerve caused by a slipped disk resulted in the 34-cap Springbok having an operation on 22 September.

The injury has forced the flank to miss the year-end internationals and Louw is still unable to put a firm date on his return for club side Bath, although he says a December “would be fantastic”.

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Richie GraySpringbok breakdown consultant Richie Gray believes games are mostly won and lost in the ‘top two inches’.

Speaking ahead of the Boks’ encounter with Italy at Stadio Euganeo in Padua on Saturday, Gray admitted the Boks’ dramatic turnaround from week one (Ireland) to week two (England) on tour can be put down to an improved mindset.

Despite the Boks’ dominance on the statistics sheet, the Boks’ Scottish assistant felt they were just not ‘in the game’ mentally.

In fact, he clearly subscribes to that adage first uttered by Leonard H Courtney in 1895: “After all, facts are facts, and although we may quote one to another with a chuckle, in the words of the Wise Statesman: ‘Lies, damn lies and statistics.’ Still there are some easy figures the simplest must understand, and the astutest cannot wriggle out of.”

Gray pointed to the “big difference” from week one to week two on tour as an example of how a change in mindset can improve a team’s performance and result.

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Duane Vermeulen

Duane Vermeulen

English club Bath are reportedly setting their sights on signing Springbok and Stormers No 8 Duane Vermeulen after next year’s Rugby World Cup.

The 28-year-old has been instrumental for the Springboks this season and was recently also shortlisted as an IRB World Rugby Player of the year nominee.

According to the Express.co.uk website, Bath are lining up Vermeulen as a second marquee player alongside Wallaby scrumhalf Will Genia.

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Willie le Roux

Willie le Roux

The Springboks on Monday received welcome news with fullback Willie le Roux cleared of any fractures after undergoing a scan.

Le Roux picked up a cheekbone injury in last Saturday’s 31-28 win over England at Twickenham.

His participation for this Saturday’s Test against Italy in Padova was still in doubt when he went for a scan on Monday.

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Johan Goosen

Johan Goosen

Johan Goosen is ready to emerge from obscurity and stake a claim to be once again a regular member of the Springbok squad.

Goosen, who has struggled to regain the form that saw him play four Tests in his debut year as a Bok in 2012, is on standby to take over at fullback from Willie le Roux against Italy in Padova on Saturday.

Le Roux, who injured his cheekbone against England at the weekend, remains on the team’s ‘doubtful list – despite scans clearing him from any fractures.

“We’ll manage Willie during training this week, but he should be available to face Italy,” team doctor Craig Roberts said.

Even with the positive news on the instinctive Le Roux, Goosen’s name has been penciled in to wear the No 15 jersey.

Springbok assistant coach Ricardo Loubscher confirmed that Goosen is an option, should Le Roux be ruled out or ‘rested’ from the third Test on South Africa’s four-match year-end tour.

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Coenie Oosthuizen

Coenie Oosthuizen

If the Springboks stick to their current pecking order, utility prop Coenie Oosthuizen faces probably the most acid examination of his scrummaging ability as a tighthead against Italy in Padova on Saturday (16:00 SA Time).

Coach Heyneke Meyer has already said that first-choice No 3 Jannie du Plessis, who hobbled off in the 65th minute of the 31-28 victory over England at Twickenham, is unlikely to be ready for the Italian challenge.

The Boks will be heavily tipped to beat them – whether they put out an experimental sort of combination or not — but the one area where the Italians traditionally provide fierce opposition is at scrum-time, and this weekend is expected to be no different.

As former Italy coach Nick Mallett pointed out in the SuperSport studio on Saturday, they have a strong and experienced front row, especially with that burly cult figure Martin Castrogiovanni back in the mix on the tighthead side, where he should earn his 98th cap on Saturday.

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Willie le Roux

Willie le Roux

Jannie du Plessis

Jannie du Plessis

The Springboks have two main injury concerns following their bruising 31-28 victory over England at Twickenham on Saturday.

Prop Jannie Du Plessis hobbled off in the 64th minute of the game after he went down awkwardly at the breakdown, which team doctor Craig Roberts is currently investigating.

“Jannie hyper-extended his knee in a ruck and was caught quite awkwardly. His foot got stuck in the ground and couldn’t bend his knee which ended up overstretching his hamstring and hyper-extending his knee.

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Heyneke Meyer

Heyneke Meyer

The Springboks put in a powerful performance full of passion and pride to beat a game England 31-28 in front of a packed Twickenham stadium in London.

In doing so the Boks restored some pride after their Dublin ambush and continued their dominance over England in a run that now stretches 12 matches and back to 2006.

And while the scoreline eventually talked about a close match, the Boks were much more dominant than it suggests, and frustratingly let England into the game at crucial times when they should have put them away.

In the end, a crucial yellow card to lock Victor Matfield – inconsistent from referee Steve Walsh given the rest of his rulings in the game – swept England back into the game when they were staring down the barrel at 20-6 down.

For a brief five-minute period, down to 14 men, the Boks were unable to cope with England`s driving maul and conceded two tries, even though the second one came from a shocking error from the touch judge, who gave the English a line-out when it should have gone to the Boks.

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Stuart Lancaster

Stuart Lancaster

England coach Stuart Lancaster insisted there would be no panic after Saturday’s 31-28 loss to South Africa at Twickenham made it five straight defeats for the 2015 World Cup hosts less than a year out from the showpiece tournament.

“We’ve played the top two sides in the world now and that’s the benchmark for us,” said Lancaster, appointed in 2012 following England’s loss to France in the quarter finals of the 2011 World Cup.

“We’ve never said we’re the finished article. When we [the coaching staff] took the roles in 2012 we knew we had to take a young group of players through some tough environments.

“Playing New Zealand first up was always going to be tough but we’re not going to sit here and feel sorry for ourselves,” he added.

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Patrick Lambie

Patrick Lambie

Cobus Reinach

Cobus Reinach

Rugby World Cup winners JP Pietersen and Schalk Burger will start Saturday’s second Test in the Castle Lager Outgoing Tour against England at Twickenham as the Springbok match-23 is retained from last weekend.

The five changes to the team are straight swaps between the starting line-up and the bench. Along with Pietersen and Burger, Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer has handed starts to hooker Adriaan Strauss and the halfback pair of Cobus Reinach and Pat Lambie.

Cornal Hendricks, Handré Pollard, Francois Hougaard, Teboho Mohoje and Bismarck du Plessis will start on the bench.

“We’ve accepted our performance against Ireland last weekend was not up to scratch and everyone in the touring squad has put up their hands and dug deep this week,” said Meyer. “We’ve really worked hard at fixing the mistakes we made and the challenge is now to put that into action on Saturday.”

Meyer said the changes were not a knee-jerk reaction following the result in Dublin, but rather in line with rotational changes that he had in mind before the start of the tour.

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Anthony Watson

Anthony Watson

Anthony Watson will start his first international for England in Saturday’s clash against South Africa at Twickenham.

Watson replaces Bath Rugby teammate Semesa Rokoduguni on the right wing in the only change to the starting line-up from the match against New Zealand, the 20 year-old handed a chance to build on his cameo appearance from the bench in last weekend’s 24-21 defeat.

A prolific graduate of the England age-group system who was part of the 2013 Junior World Championship-winning side, he can also draw confidence from the June tour to New Zealand.

Watson’s promotion means Harlequins flyer Marland Yarde, who has scored four tries in five international appearances thus far, comes onto the bench.

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Duane Vermeulen

Duane Vermeulen

Willie le Roux

Springbok fullback Willie le Roux and No 8 Duane Vermeulen on Wednesday were named among five candidates for the IRB World Rugby Player of the year.

The other nominees were Irish flyhalf Jonathan Sexton, New Zealand lock Brodie Retallick and wing Julian Savea. The winner will be revealed at his team’s final match of the season.

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Johann van Graan

Johann van Graan

South Africa, after a solid session of introspection, realised they need to do what works for them and not worry too much about the opposition.

Springbok assistant coach Johann van Graan, speaking ahead of the Springboks’ trip to Twickenham and an encounter with England on Saturday, made it clear that they are rapidly moving on from their disappointing 15-29 loss to Ireland at the weekend.

Having done the necessary soul-searching and pin-pointed their mistakes in Dublin, Van Graan said they are “very excited” about the next match on their year-end tour.

“Pretty good,” was his blunt assessment of an England team that ran New Zealand very close (losing just 21-24) and even scoring a penalty try with their powerful scrum.

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Joe Marler

England prop Joe Marler has urged the 2015 World Cup hosts to channel the frustration, following their defeat by New Zealand, when they face South Africa in the second of four November internationals at Twickenham on Saturday.

England established a 14-11 half-time lead against World Cup champions New Zealand, but the All Blacks won 24-21 as they beat Stuart Lancaster’s side for the fifth successive match.

“Our levels of frustration are high and the game review was very honest. I can’t really use the words that I’d like to use!” Marler said.

“We knew what we had to do in that second half. We spoke about it at half-time. And then we came out and did the opposite. Now we expect a reaction from ourselves,” the Harlequins captain added.

“We’ll take the frustration into this weekend. From a personal point of view it’s important to use that frustration to spur you on that little bit more.”

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Jean de Villiers

Jean de Villiers

This coming weekend’s trip to Twickenham will determine whether Saturday’s unexpected defeat to Ireland was just a small bump for the Springboks on their rise to the top of world rugby, or whether it was a significant setback to the progress that has been made by Heyneke Meyer’s team since 2012.

The England game was always going to be the one that would define the four-match tour. As the 2010 team discovered, when they suffered the ignominy of losing to Scotland but still returned home as heroes because they beat England in the last game. If you win at Twickenham your tour is seen as a success.

But after the Dublin defeat there is a lot more on the line than just passing this immediate examination. The work they have done and the progress they have made through the entire year is now at stake, with the words of skipper Jean de Villiers ahead of the tour during a training session in Stellenbosch sure to be repeated in the build-up week: “This tour will decide if we’ve had a good year or not.”

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Steve Walsh

Steve Walsh

While Springboks fans will be relieved to see the back of French referee Romain Poite, Steve Walsh lies in wait at Twickenham next Saturday…

Poite raised the ire of several Bok fans during Saturday’s 29-15 defeat to Ireland at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, although it must be said, the Boks were the masters of their own demise.

Australian Walsh will handle matters in Saturday’s Test against an England side which went down 24-21 to the All Blacks.

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Chris Robshaw

Chris Robshaw

England captain Chris Robshaw said his team will look to take their frustrations out on South Africa, after a narrow defeat to New Zealand.

Robshaw was frustrated after England let a winning position ebb away against the All Blacks, losing 21-24.

England led 11-5 in the first half and 14-11 at half-time, a display of intensity and control by the forwards – illuminated by Jonny May’s stunning try, when he weaved past Conrad Smith and Israel Dagg with immaculate balance and searing pace.

Despite a disappointing second-half display in which they allowed the Kiwis to race into a 24-14 lead, before a late rally, Robshaw refused to be downcast.

He said they will target the three remaining Tests on their year-end campaign, starting with the Springboks at Twickenham this coming Saturday.

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John Mitchell

John Mitchell

South Africa meet England for the first time in two years in a suddenly critical Test match at Twickenham on Saturday … but respected New Zealand-born critic and coach John Mitchell advocates more regular, guaranteed annual clashes between the two in a reworked Six Nations.

The Springboks tackle these old enemies while reeling to some extent from a slightly unexpected 29-15 defeat to Ireland in Dublin in the first game of their four-match northern hemisphere agenda, whilst the hosts also enter the fixture on the back foot having been beaten at home by the world champion All Blacks rather more convincingly than the 24-21 score-line suggests.

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Heyneke Meyer & Jean de Villiers

Heyneke Meyer & Jean de Villiers

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer said that his team’s defeat to Ireland taught them some valuable lessons about what it takes to win in Europe.

Despite dominating the set-pieces, the Boks could not find a way to turn that pressure into points as a stream of basic errors saw them slump to a 29-15 defeat in Dublin on Saturday.

It was their first defeat in the Northern Hemisphere since going down to Scotland in 2010, and although he was disappointed with the result, Meyer said that there were some positives for his team to take from the match a year out from the World Cup.

“We are sorry that we let our country and our supporters down with that performance. Every single defeat hurts.

“However, I’d rather lose one now and see where we’re at for the World Cup next year than it to happen then because now I can see where we can adapt and improve,” he said.

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Siyabonga "Scarra" Ntubeni

Siyabonga “Scarra” Ntubeni

Western Province hooker Siyabonga “Scarra” Ntubeni has been called up to the South African touring squad in place of the injured Robbie Coetzee.

It will be Ntubeni’s second stint withy the natiobnal team, as he was a Springbok tourist in November last year – without getting a cap.

Ntubeni, who is currently in London with Province, will join the Bok squad in the English capital after their match against Saracens on Sunday.

Coetzee will return to South Africa in the coming days.

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