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Cornal Hendricks

Cornal Hendricks

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

The speedster, who originally made his name at international Sevens level, will return to his roots as a DHL Stormers player – having played his early provincial rugby for Boland, before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

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

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

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JC Janse van Rensburg

JC Janse van Rensburg

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

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

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

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Robbie Deans

Robbie Deans

Former Wallabies coach Robbie Deans was linked with the Stormers coaching job in 2007, and it happened again when the search for Allister Coetzee’s replacement commenced this year.

But Deans, who is in charge of Saturday’s World XV side that will take on the Springboks at Newlands, confirmed on Thursday that there had not been an official offer from the Cape Town-based franchise or any other South African franchises.

“Not South African ones, no,” said Deans.

“I had a brief conversation with Gert (Smal, Stormers Director of Rugby). I actually do a bit of work with some of the guys from down here like (current Western Province defence coach) Paul Treu. I take an interest in the game.

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Matthew Proudfoot

Matthew Proudfoot

DHL Stormers forwards coach Matt Proudfoot has opted not to renew his contract with Western Province Rugby, but he might not be lost to the union on a permanent basis.

Proudfoot will be linking up with outgoing DHL Stormers head coach Allister Coetzee at Kobe Steel Kobelco Steelers in Japan, but Director of Rugby Gert Smal remains hopeful of retaining his services on a consultancy basis, which would see him contribute to the ‘Tight Five Factory'; an innovative project which is aimed at identifying and developing tight 5 players from youth level and up within WP Rugby.

Proudfoot, 42, has served as forwards coach of both the DHL Stormers and DHL Western Province for the past 7 seasons, which has seen the Cape team’s pack become 1 of the most feared units at Super Rugby and Currie Cup level.

In that time, the likes of unheralded juniors Steven Kitshoff, Scarra Ntubeni, Frans Malherbe, Vincent Koch, Eben Etzebeth, Siya Kolisi and Nizaam Carr have progressed into the Springbok ranks (either as Test players or squad members), with the DHL Stormers’ scrummaging power a huge boon in their recently-completed 2015 Super Rugby campaign.

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Vincent Koch

Vincent Koch

Tighthead prop Vincent Koch has confirmed that he will return to the DHL Stormers for next year’s Super Rugby competition.

Koch, 25, was loaned from the Pumas for this year’s Super Rugby competition and was one of the Cape franchise’s standout performers.

His performances also earned him a call-up to Heyneke Meyer’s Springbok squad named at the weekend.

There was confusion regarding Koch’s availability for the Stormers because his province – the Steval Pumas – form part of the Emirates Lions franchise and the men from Johannesburg could have requested the player to feature for them.

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Allister Coetzee

Allister Coetzee

Outgoing DHL Stormers coach Allister Coetzee has given the franchise advice on where they can look to strengthen their squad for next season.

The 52-year-old is set to leave for Japan as he embarks on a new phase in his coaching career with Japanese club, Kobe Kobelco Steelers.

The Stormers won this year’s South African conference in Super Rugby, but were knocked out in the qualifiers against the Brumbies at Newlands.

Coetzee said they need add a few new recruits in order to be successful in 2016.

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Eben Etzebeth

Eben Etzebeth

Damian de Allende

Damian de Allende

The Japanese Yen’s pulling power continues to lure Springboks to Japan for brief off-season stints.

Springbok lock Eben Etzebeth is reported to have signed for the Red Hurricanes and is set to join Springbok teammate Handré Pollard for a stint in Japan.

As is the case with Pollard, Etzebeth’s contract with the Japanese club will only be for 3 months and commence after the World Cup.

That would see him return to play for the DHL Stormers in next year’s Super Rugby competition.

Etzebeth’s contract with Western Province expires at the end of the 2016 season.

The 2nd Springbok that will travel to Asia, is Super Rugby sensation Damien de Allende who has, according to japanrugby.net, signed with the Liners.

De Allende will depart for Japan after the World Cup and return in time for the Super Rugby season in 2016.

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Johan Goosen

Johan Goosen

Johan Goosen’s kicking coach has confirmed Western Province’s interest in the Springbok pivot and says the player is ‘considering’ all possible options.

Media reports earlier this month indicated that the Capetonians were interested in signing Goosen as a replacement for Demetri Catrakilis, who will join Montpellier in France after this year’s Currie Cup.

Bertus Pretorius, who is Goosen’s kicking coach in Bloemfontein, confirmed the interest in his player.

Goosen though still has 2 seasons left on his contract with Racing Metro in France and WP would have to fork out a lot of money to sign him.

“Any player will always consider possibilities (to move) and it’s not necessarily only WP. But Goose has a 3-year contract with Racing (should WP fail in their quest to lure him) and he’ll honour it, like he did with the Cheetahs,” Pretorius said.

Goosen though appears not to be a happy camper in France, with Racing coach Laurent Labit recently accusing the Springbok pivot of not attending French classes as well as not taking things serious enough at practice.

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Allister Coetzee

Allister Coetzee

It may come in the form of another franchise gig, but there are a number of critics who feel that Allister Coetzee’s return to South Africa will be as Springbok coach.

Coetzee jets off to Japan on 5 July where he will take charge of the Kobe Kobelco Steelers, but he has not ruled out a move back to South Africa at a later stage, saying that he was “far from done” with his coaching career.

Current Bok coach Heyneke Meyer is out of contract at the end of the year after completing what would have been four full international season, and whether or not he gets another 4 years will be largely determined by how the men in green and gold go at this year’s World Cup.

Coetzee said on Tuesday that the opportunity to coach his country was something that he had always thought about.

“I would love to do it,” Coetzee said.

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Pieter-Steph du Toit

Pieter-Steph du Toit

DHL Western Province Director of Rugby Gert Smal has confirmed their interest in signing Springbok lock Pieter-Steph du Toit from the Cell C Sharks.

Smal confirmed to EWN Sport that a discussion between him and Du Toit had taken place.

Smal said the Sharks had agreed to the discussion taking place.

The WP boss said the discussion went well and he now hopes Du Toit “makes the right decision to come to Cape Town.”

Du Toit, 22, signed a 2-year contract extension at the Sharks in July 2013 which runs until 30 June this year.

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Jean de Villiers

Jean de Villiers

Springbok captain Jean de Villiers has no plans to retire after this year’s Rugby World Cup.

De Villiers suffered a horrific knee injury in the Springboks’ final Test against Wales in Cardiff late last year and underwent intensive rehabilitation to recover in time for this year’s World Cup.

He appears to have made a remarkable recovery and on Wednesday confirmed that he would be able to return to the playing field in a month’s time.

The Bok skipper also said he had no intentions of calling it quits after the World Cup.

“I didn’t go through 10 months of rehabilitation just to play 10 more games,” De Villiers was quoted as saying.

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Duane Vermeulen

Duane Vermeulen

DHL Stormers captain Duane Vermeulen met with Director of Rugby Gert Smal on Monday morning, to sort out the events that transpired in France last week.
Vermeulen visited French Top 14 club Toulon late last week and was unveiled to the local media as their new signing – a move which certainly caught Western Province Rugby by surprise.

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Super RugbyIt is the Top 6 Qualifying Round of Super Rugby 2015 this weekend.

There are only 2 matches in the Round, 1 in New Zealand and 1 in South Africa.

3rd Placed on the Combined Log, the DHL Stormers (albeit 3rd only by reason of the Conference Syystem), hosts 6th on the Log, the Brumbies. In the other match 4th on the Log, the Highlanders, hosts 5th on the Log, the Chiefs.

The 2 Franchises who finished in the No1 and No 2 spots on the Combined Log, the Hurricanes and Waratahs respectively, have lovely rest weekends, as they only meet the winners of this Round’s matches next weekend in the Semi-Finals.

The action is kicked off by the Highlanders vs Chiefs who do battle in Dunedin at 09:35 SA Time (19:35 NZ Time, 17:35 AEST, 07:35 GMT)

Much later in the day, in Cape Town, South Africa, the DHL Stormers host the Brumbies at 17:05 SA Time (15:05 GMT, Sunday 01:05 AEST, Sunday 03:05 NZ Time).

After this Round of Top 6 Qualifying matches, only 4 teams will remain and there will be 2 Semi-Final matches next weekend, followed by a Final match for the ultimate winner a week later.

The Highlanders vs Chiefs game should be an absolute cracker, with both teams getting some injured players back into the fold. It is extremely difficult to pick a winner for this game and the different pundits differ on the winner of the match, with probable the bigger percentage backing the Chiefs for an away win. I differ from that though, and I think if there is ONE YEAR where the Highlanders could make it to the Semi-Finals, it is this year, at home, at Forsyth Barr stadium.

Both teams sport great backlines but I am of the opinion that the Highlanders might have a slightly more abrasive forwards pack and possibly also a better scrumhalf and flyhalf, both of whom have come on in leaps and bounds in 2015, namely Aaron Smith and Lima Sopoaga.

I predict the Highlanders to squeek a win, in a very entertaining match.

As far as the other match is concerned, do we give home ground advantage enough weight to speculate that the DHL Stormers will overcome the Brumbies in Cape Town… even though their regular league game was only a 21 / 20 win for the Stormers and with Christian Lealiifano missing an absolute peach of a conversion attempt, from right in front, OR do we say that the Brumbies will win the game in the absense of Duane Vermeulen and likely also Schalk Burger, both with some injury concerns?

The South African scribes and pundits all patriotically pick the Stormers for a win, but I am hesitant to do so and think this game’s result is a perfect 50 / 50 guess, so may the best team take it!

Meanwhile 9 Teams are already lounging around, no longer part of the race to the finish line.

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Demetri Catrakilis

Demetri Catrakilis

DHL Stormers flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis will be ready for their Super Rugby qualifier against the Brumbies at Newlands on Saturday.

Catrakilis suffered concussion in his side’s 19 / 19 home draw against the Emirates Lions on 6 June when he attempted to tackle loose forward Jaco Kriel.

The Stormers pivot was rested for last weekend’s 34 / 12 loss to the Cell C Sharks in Durban, with Kurt Coleman taking his place.

But Catrakilis is raring to go for this Saturday’s clash, coach Allister Coetzee confirmed.

“Dim is fine – he passed his test with flying colours, he’s cleared,” Coetzee told the Stormers’ official website.

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Duane Vermeulen

DHL Stormers captain Duane Vermeulen has not improved significantly enough to feature in the 1st Round of Super Rugby playoffs.

The Stormers host the Brumbies at DHL Newlands on Saturday and the burly Springbok will not be considered.

Should the Stormers beat the Brumbies at Newlands, they would travel to Sydney to face the Waratahs in the semifinals.

Vermeulen, who has missed the Stormers’ last 2 games with a bulging neck disc that at one stage threatened his World Cup prospects, is making “good progress” on the road to recovery.

However, coach Allister Coetzee said that the improvement is “not enough” for this week.

“Hopefully, going forward, there is still an opportunity for him,” Coetzee told a media scrum at the team’s training base.

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Robert du Preez

Robert du Preez

André Esterhuizen

André Esterhuizen

DHL Stormers’ fullback Robert du Preez and Sharks centre André Esterhuizen have both been handed lengthy suspensions after performing dangerous tackles in their game on Saturday.

The Sharks won the match 34 / 12 in Durban.

Du Preez has been suspended for 6 weeks – after being shown a Yellow Card for his dangerous tackle on Sharks’ wing Lwazi Mvovo in the 76th minute, while Esterhuizen got 4 weeks after his tackle on Stormers flank Michael Rhodes in the 10th minute.

Both players were found guilty of contravening Law 10.4 (j): Lifting a player from the ground and dropping or driving that player into the ground whilst that player’s feet are still off the ground such that the player’s head and / or upper body come into contact with the ground is dangerous play.

Judicial officer Nigel Hampton deemed that with Du Preez the offence was more serious and thus handing the player a longer suspension.

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Super RugbyNow that the league phase of the Super Rugby tournament is finished, I have posted a SA team of the tournament article. The team is based on the form players during the tournament, with overseas based players obviously not considered.

The South African teams had a very disappointing tournament by any standards, with injuries, poor form and bad reffing decisions making life hard for the critical rugby public, but in an attempt to find a silver lining here is this author’s team of the tournament (other contenders mentioned where appropriate):

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Nizaam Carr

Nizaam Carr

Nizaam Carr will lead the DHL Stormers into action for the 1st time, as the 2015 SA Conference winners face up to the Cell C Sharks in both teams’ final Vodacom Super Rugby league match of the season in Durban on Saturday.

Carr will line up at No 8 in a much-changed DHL Stormers team from last weekend, the new skipper the only surviving starting player from his team’s 19 / 19 draw against the Lions at DHL Newlands.

There are 3 DHL Stormers debutants in the matchday 23, with Robert du Preez starting at No 15 in his 1st taste of Super Rugby action and flanker Sikhumbuzo Notshe and hooker Michael Willemse making their 1st starts at this level.

Lock Jan de Klerk and scrumhalf Godlen Masimla will be looking to earn their 1st caps from the bench, whilst vice-captain Jaco Taute (inside centre – in his 50th overall Super Rugby appearance), Michael Rhodes (No 7) and Kobus van Wyk (on the bench) are back in the mix following their injury lay-offs.

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Sikhumbuzo Notshe

Sikhumbuzo Notshe

Stormers and Western Province loose forward Sikhumbuzo Notshe has opted to extend his stay in Cape Town for a further 2 seasons.

The promising 22-year-old has signed a deal to stay at WP until the end of the 2017 season.

Notshe was a star for WP in the Vodacom Cup this year, while also impressing when he got opportunities for the Stormers in Super Rugby.

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Nizaam Carr

Nizaam Carr

Nizaam Carr will captain the DHL Stormers in their Super Rugby clash in Durban on Saturday against the Cell C Sharks.

Kick-off is at 19:10 SA Time (17:10 GMT).

It has been reliably learnt that the Springbok loose forward will lead a Stormers ‘B’ team in their final Super Rugby league fixture against the men from Durban before they tackle the playoffs the following weekend.

Stormers coach Allister Coetzee said he has looked at the situation and described his sides chances of ending up in 2nd position on the overall Super Rugby standings as “highly unlikely.”

A 2nd place finish would have secured a home semi-final spot for the Cape franchise – a week’s rest during the “quarter-finals”.

Coetzee will however use the game against the Sharks to bring back a few players who have been sidelined with injuries for a while. Players like Jaco Taute, Kobus van Wyk and Michael Rhodes will be in the starting line-up. It will also be a golden opportunity to test the depth of his squad.

“I am not even worried about the outcome of the games between the Waratahs and Reds as well as the Brumbies and Crusaders,” said Coetzee.

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Johan Goosen

Johan Goosen

John Plumtree

John Plumtree

With the current DHL Stormers coach, Allister Coetzee already having confirmed his departure to Japan at the end of 2015 and with Demetri Catrakilis already having signed for Jake White’s Montpellier, the rumour mill is starting to get into full gear regarding replacements for these vital Stormers positions.

Current Hurricanes forwards coach and former Sharks head coach, John Plumtree is touted to be a favourite for the Stormers head coach position.

Johan Goosen, 2nd choice flyhalf at Racing Metro, has also been linked to a move to Cape Town, to join DHL Western Province.

 

John Plumtree:

Former Sharks coach John Plumtree is being linked with a move to coach the DHL Stormers in next year’s Super Rugby competition.

Plumtree is currently the assistant coach of Super Rugby log-leaders, the Hurricanes, but the New Zealander has been in connection with Western Province Director of Rugby, Gert Smal, about a possible move to Cape Town.

Allister Coetzee, the current Stormers coach, will leave the team after this year’s competition to take charge of the Kobe Kobelco Steelers in Japan.

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DHL StormersThe chances have greatly increased that the DHL Stormers will need to defy statistical history to win the 2015 overall Super Rugby crown from here.

Signs point all too strongly to their being elbowed into a 3rd-placed finish after ordinary season, even though they are already safely installed as SA conference champions after the engrossing, full-blooded 19 / 19 Newlands result  (inconvenient 1st draw competition-wide this year) against the now-eliminated Emirates Lions.

To still get a highly desirable home semi-final, 3 results will need to work in their favour in the weekend’s last Round ahead of the 6-team playoffs.

Allister Coetzee’s charges, apart from having to beat the Cell C Sharks themselves in Durban on Saturday (19:10 SA Time kick-off), will have needed 2 earlier matches on the day to have gone the way of the away teams to avoid South Africa being the only 1 of the participating countries for a 2nd year running not to stage a semi.

They seek a Crusaders victory over the Brumbies in their trip to Canberra, plus a Reds win in the Australian derby against the Waratahs in Sydney.

Neither outcome can be completely ruled out, but a considerably better bet is that at least 1 of the Waratahs or Brumbies will have done the business, thus leaving the Stormers automatic 3rd-placed tenants regardless of how their Durban date goes.

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Duane Vermeulen

Duane Vermeulen

DHL Stormers No 8 and captain Duane Vermeulen consulted a neurosurgeon on Monday, after he was withdrawn from the past weekend’s Vodacom Super Rugby clash against the Lions with a severe neck spasm.

Vermeulen suffered an intense spasm in his neck after last Friday’s captain’s run, with an MRI showing a bulging disc at a C5 level.

However, the DHL Stormers and Springbok star consulted a neurosurgeon on Monday and the prognosis was positive ahead of the upcoming Vodacom Super Rugby play-offs, with the DHL Stormers set to host either a quarter- or semifinal in the coming weeks.

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Damian de Allende

Damian de Allende

DHL Stormers and Springbok centre Damian de Allende will also play rugby in Japan later this year.

Good news for Stormers fans though is that the 23-year-old will return to play Super Rugby for the Cape franchise next year – as is the case with many South African Super Rugby players plying their trade in Japan.

It’s still unsure what team De Allende would be joining but the possibility exists that he could join Stormers coach Allister Coetzee at the Kobe Kobelco Steelers.

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Schalk Burger

Schalk Burger

The DHL Stormers have announced just 3 changes to their starting line-up, with 2 new faces on the bench, for Saturday’s all-South African Super Rugby meeting with the Emirates Lions at DHL Newlands (Kick-Off 17:05 SA Time).

The DHL Stormers can secure a 3rd South African Conference title with a victory against the in-form Lions and the return of Schalk Burger, from a week’s rest – as per the SA Rugby rest agreement with the SA Franchises, will boost the home side significantly.

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Duane Vermeulen

Duane Vermeulen

Duane Vermeulen’s reported move to France appears all the more likely after the Springbok and Stormers No 8 rejected a contract offer from the South African Rugby Union (SARU).

Vermeulen would have been the highest earning Springbok had he accepted SARU’s offer.

His decision to reject the offer from SARU adds fire to reports earlier this year that linked him with a move to French club Toulon.

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DHL StormersDHL Stormers coach Allister Coetzee has made 3 changes ahead of Saturday’s all-South African Super Rugby clash against the Toyota Cheetahs at DHL Newlands (kick-off 17:05 SA Time).

1 Of the changes sees Nizaam Carr replace Schalk Burger at No 6, the latter being rested as part of the SA Franchises’ agreement with SA Rugby and Carr winning his 50 DHL Stormers cap in the process.

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Eben Etzebeth

Eben Etzebeth

Big-spending French giants Toulon are finding the going tough in luring Springbok lock Eben Etzebeth to France after this year’s Rugby World Cup.

Reports late last year indicated that Etzebeth could join Toulon as a replacement for compatriot Bakkies Botha, who is set to leave the reigning European champions.

The problem though for Toulon is that Etzebeth is still contracted to Western Province until the end of the 2016 season – and the union is reluctant to let him go.

Toulon boss Mourad Boudjellal has confirmed their interest in Etzebeth, but admitted that they are finding the going tough to attain Etzebeth’s services, with Western Province believed to be upset over the matter.

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Schalk Burger

Schalk Burger

Experienced DHL Stormers and Springbok flank Schalk Burger will be rested from this weekend’s Super Rugby match against the Toyota Cheetahs.

Burger has been a star performer for the Stormers since returning from Japan in early March.

However, he will have this week off as part of the franchises agreement with the South African Rugby Union – to keep key Springboks ‘fresh’ for the World Cup.

The Stormers will host the Cheetahs at Newlands on Saturday, having lost by 17 / 25 in Bloemfontein the last time these 2 sides met on 2 May.

Burger’s intended replacement, Michael Rhodes, is not yet fit to be considered for selection.

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