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Allister Coetzee

Allister Coetzee – New Springbok Head Coach

Former DHL Stormers and DHL Western Province coach Allister Coetzee has been named as head coach of the Springboks for the next 4 years, ushering in an exciting new era for rugby in South Africa.

The 52-year-old former Springbok assistant coach succeeds Heyneke Meyer at a time when a number of veterans of the 2007 Rugby World Cup triumph have gone into retirement, including 3 of last year’s 4 captains.

“Allister’s appointment marks the changing of the guard at the top of Springbok rugby and is an exciting new departure for SA Rugby,” said Mr Oregan Hoskins, president of SA Rugby.

“It is a watershed moment for our game with new players developing alongside a spine of experience and it was the right time to have a new man guiding the Springboks for the foreseeable future.

“Allister was the outstanding candidate in terms of his rugby credentials, his understanding of our unique South African transformation imperatives and also in the image he will present as Springbok coach. I am delighted to welcome him back into the Springbok fold.

“The Springbok coaching job is an enormous challenge but Allister has the full support of us at SA Rugby and we will be united in our efforts to continue to make Springbok rugby strong. I want to wish him well in his new job, I also want to pay tribute to Heyneke and his management team for their dedication and service to Springbok rugby the past 4 years.”

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SpringboksLocal rugby supporters finally have a reason to smile.

The plan by the SA Rugby Union (SARU) to stem the enormous exodus of top players heading overseas, by way of joint contracts with its unions is gaining some momentum.

Rugby World Cup tough guys Damian de Allende, Lood de Jager, Eben Etzebeth and Frans Malherbe are among the list of about 20 players with whom SARU has already signed contracts.

The full list of names has not been made available, but it was confirmed that Tendai ‘Beast’ Mtawarira, Trevor Nyakane, Adriaan Strauss, Coenie Oosthuizen, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Marcell Coetzee, Siya Kolisi, Handré Pollard, Pat Lambie and Jan Serfontein had also been contracted and could look forward to competitive salaries in line with those of Springboks playing overseas.

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JP Pietersen double-tackled in the Scotland game

JP Pietersen double-tackled in the Scotland game

The experienced JP Pietersen is back in the Springboks’s starting line-up for their Rugby World Cup quarterfinal against Wales at Twickenham Stadium in London on Saturday afternoon.

JP Pietersen, who scored a hat-trick against Samoa in the 2nd pool match, is included in the only change to the starting team that beat the USA by 64 / 0 in the Springboks’ final Pool B match, last Wednesday at the Olympic Stadium.

The 63-capped wing, who has recovered from a knee injury which kept him out of the USA Test, will wear the No 14 jersey and Bryan Habana will revert to the left wing for this encounter. It will be the 42nd time they play together as a wing-combination in the Springboks’ starting team.

Habana currently leads the try-scoring stakes at Rugby World Cup 2015 with 5, while Pietersen is joint 2nd with 4, a position he shares with 5 other players.

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Pennyhill Park Hotel

Pennyhill Park Hotel

The Springboks welcomed the chance to take over England’s posh base at Pennyhill Park this week, saying it would allow them to focus away from all the distractions of the Rugby World Cup.

The base, which is set in the Surrey countryside, feels like a continent away from the hustle and bustle of London, and requires most journalists 2 trains and a 20 minute cab ride to even get to the plush 120 acre estate.

But the base, even though it is in the middle of nowhere, has been set up perfectly for England’s ill-fated campaign, with an indoor pitch, training area and gym as well as a manicured outdoor pitch now at the beck and call of the Springboks for the remainder of the competition.

Ironically while England would have used the base for the entirety of the competition had they stayed in this year’s Rugby World Cup, but the team that was actually allocated the base because of the draw – Michael Cheika’s Australian team – turned it down and opted for the Springbok base last week at the Lensbury in Teddington.

The absolute difference in opulence is apparent when you arrive in Ascot to take the final steps towards the new Springbok base and one is greeted by a McLaren dealership, where prices resemble some of the most expensive houses in South Africa, not to mention the nearby famous Ascot racecourse.

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The Springboks are likely to be at full strength when coach Heyneke Meyer picks his team to face Wales in Saturday’s Rugby World Cup quarterfinal at Twickenham.

The Springboks reunited after going their separate ways for 4 days with their wives and girlfriends, exploring all parts of London – with 1 or 2 even heading across to France for their recess, and it was apparent that the Springboks would be able to select from all 31 in the squad when they make their team announcement on Wednesday.

While there were no new injuries, it seems Bok veterans JP Pietersen and Victor Matfield could also be fit for selection after overcoming their injuries that kept them out of the USA game.

Another player who missed that match, Jannie du Plessis, is also set to be fit for selection when the team is decided upon.

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Lwazi Mvovo, Greg Levendahl & Pat Lambie

Lwazi Mvovo, Greg Levendahl & Pat Lambie

After watching 2 of South Africa’s Rugby World Cup Pool B victories in England, Springbok bus driver Greg Levendahl, said he is leaving England knowing that Heyneke Meyer and his team will do well in the rest of the tournament.

The 62-year-old Levendahl, who has been driving the Springboks’ bus in South Africa for the last 8 seasons, supported the Springboks in their matches against Scotland in Newcastle and the USA in London.

It was his 1st trip abroad, made possible by the players, through their internal team fund, the South African Rugby Union and the Springbok team management, all of whom made contributions to pay for Levendahl to make the trip across to England.

Levendahl, whose nickname is ‘Getuie’ (Afrikaans for witness), is a firm favourite of all the players and he said it was wonderful to spend some time with them in England.

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Bryan Habana

Bryan Habana scoring his hat trick try (64th Test try, 15th RWC try) against USA at the Rugby World Cup 2015

Bryan Habana’s hat-trick against the USA in their Rugby World Cup clash in London on Wednesday saw him tie not 1, but 2 try scoring records.

Habana’s feat saw him not only join All Blacks legend Jonah Lomu atop the all-time World Cup try scoring charts – with 15 – but also moved him into a tie with former Wallaby David Campese for 2nd spot in the overall Test try list (64).

Habana now trails Japan’s Daisuke Ohata (69) by 5 tries in the all-time list.

But who did Habana score his very 1st Test try against? And his 50th?

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Lood de Jager... a truly smashing tournament for him!

Lood de Jager… a truly smashing tournament for him!

With the South African Springboks now confirmed as topping their Pool B in the Rugby World Cup and thus making the quarters, we take a general peek at the news from the camp.

Today allegations surfaced that tighthead prop Frans Malherbe was involved in a “biting incident” during the USA game on Wednesday evening, but those rumours have been dismissed by World Rugby as unfounded.

Lood de Jager ranks high in all facets of play, with a host of tackles, many ball carries, great lineout statistics and all round inspired play. He is having a whale of a tournament and is growing in stature with every subsequent game.

The Springboks know that they still have plenty to work on, despite rebounding nicely after their bomb-shell loss against Japan in their 1st Rugby World Cup encounter. They now end No 1 in Pool B, whether Scotland win with a bonus point or not against Samoa on the weekend and whether Japan beat USA on the weekend as well. They feel that all aspects of their play must and should still improve.

In the meantime Jean de Villiers has re-joined the Springbok squad, after an operation on his broken jaw in South Africa, as adviser and not as player and he was seen supporting the Springboks on Wednesday evening from the stands, next to his other Springbok compatriots.

With England leaving the Rugby World Cup scene after their last Pool game, against Uruguay on the weekend, the rumour is now that the Springboks will take over and occupy their posh preparation base for the rest of their Rugby World Cup participation.

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South AfricaUSASpringboks (14) 64 / 0 (0) USA Eagles (Final Score)

The South African Springboks and United States Eagles did battle in the 2015 Rugby World Cup at

Olympic Park, London, England at 17:45 SA Time (16:45 BST, 15:45 GMT, 11:45 US EDT).

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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Schalk Burger

Schalk Burger

Schalk Burger is set to equal former captain John Smit’s South African record of 17 Rugby World Cup appearances, after retaining his starting place for the Pool B match against the United States on Wednesday.

Burger will start on the blindside flank in a forward pack containing just 1 change from the pack which beat Scotland on the weekend, with Frans Malherbe replacing Jannie du Plessis at tighthead prop for his 1st Test start of 2015.

South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer made just 1 other change in his starting 15, with Lwazi Mvovo picked on the left wing for the injured JP Pietersen, with Bryan Habana switching over to the right wing.

(see full squad announcement article, placed earlier today)

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Frans Malherbe

Frans Malherbe

Lwazi Mvovo

Lwazi Mvovo

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer decided to keep continuity for South Africa’s final Rugby World Cup Pool B match.

The Springboks face the United States at London’s Olympic Stadium on Wednesday.

The starting line-up shows only 2 changes from the team that recorded a 34 / 16 victory over Scotland in Newcastle last Saturday.

As a result Frans Malherbe will start his 1st match of the season for South Africa, while Rudy Paige could make his Test debut off the bench against the United States.

Malherbe comes in at tighthead prop for Jannie du Plessis, in the only change to the pack.

The backline shows only 1 personnel change as well – at wing, where Lwazi Mvovo takes over from JP Pietersen, with Bryan Habana moving over to the right wing.

Pietersen was not considered this week due to injury, while a decision was taken to give Du Plessis and Victor Matfield time to get over some niggles due to the short turn-around after the Scotland match.

Joining Paige on the bench is Morné Steyn, who both could get their 1st taste of Rugby World Cup action this year.

Schalk Brits and Coenie Oosthuizen are also back amongst the replacements this week.

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Heyneke Meyer

Heyneke Meyer

South Africa’s Springboks have restored a semblance of order and normality again, after the shock loss in Round 1 against Japan, which was followed up by good wins over Samoa and Scotland on the weekend.

The Springboks now top their Rugby World Cup Pool (Pool B), leading Scotland by 1 Log Point (11 points to 10), after the same amount of games and with only 1 Round of Pool stage games left.

Japan is not out of the running in the Pool yet, a further 2 points adrift, but with their only remaining game the one against the USA Eagles and one they could well win as well.

The focus for the Springboks now shift to the game against the USA Eagles on Wednesday evening.

While there has been praise and some redemption for the Springboks and Heyneke Meyer, the job is not yet done.

The only injury concern is that of JP Pietersen, who suffered a knee injury on the weekend against Scotland.

There has been a lot of praise heaped on Handré Pollard for his performance against Scotland, playing next to the captain and general of the day, Fourie du Preez.

Lood de Jager, who was named Man Of The Match against Scotland deserves all the plaudits he is currently getting but he remains focussed and humble in the process, declaring that he’ll defend his country with everything he’s got.

In the meantime, speculation has been rife and a lot of opinion has been bandied about regarding the team selection for the game against USA on Wednesday and one of the 1st questions asked is if Rudy Paige will be drafted into the match-day 23 for the USA clash. Only 2 players have not had any game time yet, Paige and Morné Steyn.

 

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Jannie du Plessis

Jannie du Plessis

Jannie du Plessis is telling the story of the day the Springboks decided to change their entire lineout book in the build-up to Saturday’s World Cup match with Scotland.

The tighthead prop, with 66 caps packed into his near-33 years, bows his head and laughs.

“It was Monday. Black Monday,” he explains.

“Our forwards coach came in and said, ‘OK, on the weekend Scotland will have Josh Strauss and WP Nel in their team. We respect them as rugby players and we respect their ability to understand lineout calls in Afrikaans. So we’re changing our calls.’

“We said, ‘What? All of them?’ Our coach said, ‘Yes, every one. We start today.’ There was more than 1 sigh of frustration in that room, I can tell you. We were saying, ‘No! How am I going to learn all of this in a week!’ Maybe it’s a blessing. We made so many mistakes with the old ones. Maybe we needed to change anyway.”

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Fourie du Preez

Fourie du Preez

Fourie du Preez will become the Springboks’ 56th Test captain when he leads South Africa against Scotland on Saturday at the Rugby World Cup.

South Africa face Scotland in a must-win Pool B encounter at the Rugby World Cup St James’ Park in Newcastle on Saturday.

Du Preez made a massive impact upon his return in the match against Samoa last weekend and has been entrusted with the captaincy in the absence of the injured Jean de Villiers (fracture jaw, retired from the international stage) and Victor Matfield, who has been ruled out due to a hamstring injury.

Schalk Burger is the vice-captain.

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer made only 3 changes to the starting line-up for Saturday’s match – 2 of them injury-enforced.

Jesse Kriel will link up again with Damian De Allende in the midfield, in the place of Jean de Villiers, while Lodewyk de Jager takes over from Victor Matfield at lock.

The 3rd change is a rotational switch at hooker – where Bismarck du Plessis returns in the place of Adriaan Strauss, who will move to the bench.

Also amongst the replacements are Pieter-Steph du Toit, Willem Alberts and Jan Serfontein, who provides cover as both centres picked up injuries last week.

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Jan Serfontein

Jan Serfontein

Springbok midfielder Jan Serfontein was sitting at home watching the England vs Wales Rugby World Cup clash this past weekend when his phone rang, changing his life altogether.

Serfontein got a call from Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer telling him to ready himself for a trip to join the national team in the wake of Jean de Villiers’ injury.

Arriving late on Monday Serfontein joined the Springbok camp and depending on the injury report may well have to play this coming weekend against Scotland at St James’ Park in the Pool B showdown.

“I was surprised to get the call,” Serfontein admitted, “I was watching the Wales-England game and I got a call from coach Heyneke saying that Jean is injured and that he was considering picking me and he would only confirm it on Sunday.

“I couldn’t sleep the night and got the news on Sunday, but I’m happy to be here now and will do everything I can to contribute.”

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Jean de Villiers

Jean de Villiers

Jean de Villiers successfully completed the 1irst step on his return to playing.

He underwent surgery on his broken jaw in Cape Town on Wednesday.

The Springbok captain was forced out of the Rugby World Cup, following an impact to his jaw in the match against Samoa last Saturday.

The 109-Test centre plans to continue playing, although he announced his international retirement following his exit.

“Jean had surgery in Cape Town this morning and the operation went well,” said Springbok team doctor, Craig Roberts.

“The fractured jaw was plated and his wisdom teeth were removed.”

De Villiers is currently recuperating at home and a decision on returning to England to support the Springbok team will be made in due course.

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SpringboksIt is said that time is a great healer, but in Heyneke Meyer’s case it will also be a great revealer.

The Springbok coach has decided to delay his team announcement by 7 hours on Wednesday as he needs more time to resolve the all-important matter of who will wear the captain’s armband in Saturday’s Rugby World Cup clash against Pool B pace-setters Scotland at St James’ Park, Newcastle.

Instead of an 11:00 SA Time (10:00 UK Time) announcement, Meyer will now name his matchday-23 at 19:00 SA Time (18:00 UK Time) on Wednesday evening.

At the heart of the delay is a plethora of injuries which have a direct bearing on the captaincy appointment. Victor Matfield is the obvious choice to replace the injured Jean de Villiers as the captain at world rugby’s showpiece, but the 38-year-old lock has a hamstring strain which he suffered in the 2nd half against Samoa last weekend.

As a result of the lengthy injury list, the Springboks forfeited Monday’s training session as several players were nursing an assortment of niggles. Matfield will have to prove his fitness at Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s training before the Springboks’ medical staff make a call on his availability.

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Jannie du Plessis

Jannie du Plessis

Damian de Allende

Damian de Allende

Jesse Kriel

Jesse Kriel     

Victor Matfield

Victor Matfield  

Fourie du Preez

Fourie du Preez

With the Rugby World Cup match against Samoa being called “brutal” by Springbok team doctor Craig Roberts, Jean de Villiers is heading home and out of the Rugby World Cup with a fractured jaw, while a long list of injuries will be assessed on Monday by the team doctor as the team start to prepare for their showdown with Scotland.

Prop Jannie du Plessis (knee), midfielders Damian de Allende (knee) and Jesse Kriel (laceration to the eye), lock Victor Matfield and scrumhalf Fourie du Preez all are on the injury list.

Depending on how they heal overnight, they should all hopefully be declared fit for the Scottish game.

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Jean de Villier in action against Samoa on Saturday 26 September 2015.

Jean de Villier in action against Samoa on Saturday 26 September 2015.

South Africa’s convincing win against Samoa on Saturday evening, to put their Rugby World Cup path back on track after the shock loss to Japan the week before has come at a considerable cost, with the news that Captain Jean de Villiers has broken the other side of his jaw and will therefore head home back to South Africa and out of the tournament.

As a result of the injury, Jean de Villiers has subsequently announced his retirement from Test rugby.

The silver lining for Jean is the fact that the last time he was injured against Samoa in the Rugby World Cup of 2007, South Africa went on to win the prized title.

 

Jean de Villiers’ tournament ending injury:

Springbok captain Jean de Villiers has been ruled out of the remainder of the Rugby World Cup after suffering a fracture to his jaw.

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer described this latest injury to De Villiers as a massive setback.

Jan Serfontein has been called up and will join the squad in Newcastle on Monday. An announcement on the captaincy for the match against Scotland will be made on Wednesday.

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Heyneke Meyer

Heyneke Meyer

Mastery of scrums, line drives and the breakdown will win the Rugby World Cup, South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer said after his 31-man squad arrived in England for the tournament on Saturday.

“These are 3 areas that will determine the outcome of the tournament and we have spent a lot of time working on them,” Meyer said.

Meyer also said winning the Rugby World Cup, which South Africa achieved in 1995 and 2007, would require playing “7 cup finals” over the next 2 months.

“All the opponents will be difficult and you have to approach each game as if it were a final. The challenge is to play 7 great games in a row.”

The Springboks, who are based on the South Coast of England in the little hamlet of Eastbourne, start their campaign next Saturday against Japan at Brighton in Pool B, with the coach suggesting it was an opportunity to give game time to players who have been working their way back to fitness after injury.

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SARU President, Oregan Hoskins

SARU President, Oregan Hoskins

SARU President, Oregan Hoskins has hit back against attacks and critisism from factions and political party game play against the racial make-up of the Springbok rugby squad who will represent South Africa at the Rugby World Cup, which runs from 18 September to 31 October in England.

This follows a High Court Application, later abandoned, by the ANA (Agenda for… wait what are they called again… Agents for New Agenda party) as well as fierce critisism by Cosatu and former Springbok coach Peter de Villiers regarding the amount of players of colour in theSpringbok setup.

A lot of critisism can and has been levelled over the years against Oregan Hoskins and his “Bunch of merry misfits” at SARU for the way South African rugby is run and administered.

Here’s what Hoskins syas in his letter:

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Victor Matfield

Victor Matfield

Springbok lock Victor Matfield will join the Northampton Saints on a 1-year deal at the end of this year’s Rugby World Cup.

Matfield, who at the age of 38 captained the Springboks earlier this year against Australia and Argentina, will join up with the British club for a swansong to end his career after the Springboks conclude their Rugby World Cup commitments.

He has been released from his coaching contract by mutual agreement by the Blue Bulls Company, after requesting a release earlier this week.

South Africa’s most capped Springbok and Rugby World Cup squad member, Matfield, is widely seen as possibly the greatest lock ever to play the game, and has been capped 123 times for the Springboks as he heads into his 4th Rugby World Cup.

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Tshidiso Mokhoanatse

Tshidiso Mokhoanatse

The High Court bid to stop the Springboks from competing in the Rugby World Cup was merely meant to draw attention to the need for transformation, the man behind it said on Wednesday.

“The move was tactical. We managed to draw the attention of this country and of the Courts to the need for transformation,” the leader of the Agency for New Agenda (ANA) party, Tshidiso Mokhoanatse, told reporters in Pretoria.

The intention was to move the responsibility for transformation in sport away from the South African Rugby Union and government, to the Courts. He said he had succeeded in this.

He was speaking after he abandoned his bid for an order seeking to prevent the Springboks from going to England and Wales to compete in the World Cup, which starts on 18 September.

Judge Ntendeya Mavundla stood the matter down in the High Court in Pretoria earlier.

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Tshidiso Mokhoanatse

Tshidiso Mokhoanatse

The man trying to stop the Springboks from leaving South Africa needs to find a lawyer, a judge cautioned him on Wednesday, as he is jumping into waters where there are “fish that bite”.

“You may find that you are traversing an area which is like a pond on the surface. It looks calm, but underneath the waters flow with tremendous force, if you are not familiar with that terrain,” Judge Ntendeya Mavundla cautioned Tshidiso Mokhoanatse.

He was referring to the debate about transformation in sport, and society in general.

The leader of the Agency for New Agenda party was about to jump into the deep end and tackle the case on his own, when Mavundla advised him it would be best to get a “scuba diver” to help him.

Mavundla stood the matter down until 14:00 SA Time for a lawyer from the Bar Council or Law Society to help him.

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Springboks

The South African Springboks squad, to take on the world’s best in England, at the 2015 Rugby World Cup was officially announced at 18:00 SA Time (16:00 GMT), live on SuperSport 1 on TV in South Africa.

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer is on a hiding to nothing, no matter which squad he would have selected, whether it be from lobbyists saying that there are not enough players of colour in the side OR whether he is accused of player bias OR choosing old favourites… OR not choosing players on merit.

I urge everybody to accept his selection prerogatives, even though you or me would have done it differently, and to get behind this Springbok side for the Rugby World Cup, where they will be representing their country to the best of their abilities.

The “Ghost Squad” has already been discussed ad-nauseam, the announced squad is exactly the same and feature the inclusion of fringe players like Zane Kirchner, Rudy Paige, Siya Kolisi and Morné Steyn.

Injured or previously injured players like Fourie du Preez, Jean de Villiers, Duane Vermeulen, Coenie Oosthuizen, Jannie du Plessis is also be included in the squad.

A number of players are hugely unlucky not to be selected, they include Heinrich Brüssow, Steven Kitshoff, Marcel van der Merwe, Vincent Koch, Marcell Coetzee, Jan Serfontein, Frans Steyn, Cornal Hendricks, Cobus Reinach and Francois Hougaard.

Here is the Springbok Rugby World Cup squad for 2015, which is now official:

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Heinrich Brüssow

Heinrich Brüssow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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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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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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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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