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Emirates LionsEmirates Lions head coach Johan Ackermann has named his team to face the Cell C Sharks in Durban on Saturday.

The forwards see several changes as Jacques van Rooyen comes in at loosehead prop. Hence, Schalk van der Merwe shifts to the bench to provide cover. Additionally, Jaco Kriel has been withdrawn due to the recurrence of a groin injury. As a result, Derick Minnie will start at openside flanker and Warwick Tecklenburg is called up to the starting line-up to fill the blindside flank berth.

There are absolutely no changes to the starting Emirates Lions backline for this match.

Meanwhile, on the wood, both Robbie Coetzee and Julian Redelinghuys have recovered from their respective injuries and have been called up to cover the hooker and prop berths respectively.

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Lubabalo 'Giant' Mtyanda

Lubabalo ‘Giant’ Mtyanda

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

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

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

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

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

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Jurie van Vuuren

Jurie van Vuuren

The DHL Stormers have announced just 1 change to the starting team for their 1st home match of the 2015 Vodacom Super Rugby season, against the Blues at DHL Newlands on Saturday (17:05 SA Time).

Having opened their campaign with a clinical 29 / 17 win over the Bulls in Pretoria last weekend, DHL Stormers head coach Allister Coetzee has wisely kept the changes to a minimum.

In an enforced change, however, No 4 lock Jean Kleyn misses out with a hamstring injury, handing a start to fellow young gun and lock-cum-flank Jurie van Vuuren – after the latter came off the bench at Loftus Versfeld.

In a further change to the 23-man squad that played away last Saturday, fit-again Springbok loose forward Siya Kolisi comes in for Van Vuuren in the No 19 shirt – meaning Michael Rhodes and Rynhardt Elstadt will cover at lock whilst giving the hosts 2 explosive back-row options from the bench in the process.

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Ross Geldenhuys

Ross Geldenhuys

Highlanders coach, Jamie Joseph, has named South African journeyman Ross Geldenhuys at tighthead for the big South Island clash against the Crusaders on Saturday.

Geldenhuys is 1 of 7 debutants for the Highlanders who had a BYE in Round 1 of Super Rugby.

As with last season the team will be co-captained by Nasi Manu and Ben Smith.

Joseph has selected from a near fully fit squad with just Shane Christie (hamstring), Richard Buckman (knee) and Pingi Tala’apitaga (knee) unavailable due to injury.

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Francois van Wyk

Francois van Wyk

South African Loosehead prop Francois van Wyk will make his first appearance in the starting fifteen when the Western Force takes on the Queensland Reds at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium on Saturday.

Van Wyk, who scored the Force’s final try in last weekend’s 25 / 13 win over the Waratahs, has played 3 matches off the bench for the Western Australian club, and will pack down alongside Wallabies Nathan Charles and Tetera Faulkner.

The 24-year-old front rower replaces Pek Cowan, who will be monitored regarding his pending return after scans cleared him of any serious injury having been carried from the field on Sunday.

The other change to the starting 15 sees Zack Holmes promoted to fullback in the absence of Dane Haylett-Petty, who has been ruled out with a foot injury.

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James O'Connor

James O’Connor

Reds head coach Richard Graham has named his side to take on the Western Force at Suncorp Stadium this Saturday, with 4 personnel changes to the side which lost to the Brumbies in the opening Round.

2 Of the changes are to the starting side, with former All Blacks flanker Adam Thomson and Wallabies utility James O’Connor named to make their Reds debut.

Thomson will start at blindside flanker, with Curtis Browning shifting to the bench. O’Connor has been named starting flyhalf, with Karmichael Hunt returning to fullback.

On the bench, former Australian Schoolboys and Under 20 representative Tom Murday replaces Ed O’Donoghue at lock. Murday was part of the Reds Wider Training Squad in 2013 before heading to New Zealand to join ITM Cup side Northland. He was a member of the Blues Extended Player Squad last year before returning home to train with the Reds. Should he take the field this weekend it will be his Super Rugby debut.

The other change to the replacements sees utility Sam Johnson come in for Duncan Paia’aua, who has been ruled out following a head knock in last week’s match. Johnson, a bruising centre for Brisbane club GPS, made his Super Rugby debut for the Reds last season and is a member of the club’s Elite Development Squad.

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Israel Dagg

Israel Dagg

Israel Dagg will make his return to Super Rugby when the Crusaders take on the Highlanders this Saturday.

He is 1 of 5 changes to the starting line-up this week.

Crusaders head coach Todd Blackadder has named Wyatt Crockett to start in the No 1 jersey this week, with Joe Moody and Nepo Laulala providing prop cover from the bench.

Scott Barrett will start at lock for the first time in Super Rugby, pairing up with Luke Romano and with Dominic Bird on the bench.

Colin Slade shifts from fullback to flyhalf, with Daniel Carter recovering from a knock to the leg in last week’s match, and Dagg steps in at No 15.

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Ita Vaea

Ita Vaea

Ita Vaea will complete a remarkable and dramatic comeback from a serious heart condition to start for the Brumbies for the first time since 2012.

Jarrad Butler moves to openside flank this Friday when the Brumbies travel to New Zealand’s north island to face the Chiefs.

A syndesmosis injury to David Pocock forced the change, with Vaea featuring at No 8 and in the starting side for the first time in 2 years.

The last time Vaea started for the Brumbies was under Jake White in 2012 and the Tongan powerhouse hasn’t featured at the back of the scrum since 2011.

Vaea has battled a serious heart condition for more than 2 years, with last week’s 30-minute effort against the Reds his 1st Super Rugby time since coming from the bench to beat the Waratahs in Sydney back in Round 15 of 2012.

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Luke Burgess

Luke Burgess

Tony McGahan, Melbourne Rebels coach, has made 1 forced change to the side that defeated the Crusaders in Round 1, as the Waratahs head to AAMI Park to face the Rebels this Friday.

Scrumhalf Nic Stirzaker has been suspended for 1 week, so Wallaby Luke Burgess moves to the starting lineup and exciting 2nd-year Rebel Ben Meehan is named in the matchday 23 for the first time this year.

Whilst disappointed to lose Stirzaker, McGahan had faith in the ability of both his scrumhalves to cover the loss.

“Nic is an important player for us, but we have quality players within this position,” he said.

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Jano Vermaak

Jano Vermaak

Springbok scrumhalf Jano Vermaak is set to join the Stormers at the end of the season after 2 years with Toulouse.

The former Lions and Bulls scrumhalf joined the 4-time European champions in 2013, and featured regularly in his 1st season in the Top 14.

He has fallen down the pecking order this season however, with Sébastien Bezy and Jean-Marc Doussain both ahead of him, making just 2 starts so far.

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Naka Drotske

Naka Drotske

The Cheetahs’ team doctor has a special plan to help the team overcome jet lag on their upcoming Australasian Super Rugby tour.

The men from Bloemfontein start their tour with a clash against the Crusaders in Christchurch on 21 March, before facing the Chiefs (Hamilton 28 March), Brumbies (Canberra 4 April) and Force (11 April).

Dr Louis Holtzhausen said the fact that the Cheetahs’ first game is in Christchurch makes things extra difficult.

“It’s the furthest that you can travel and the most difficult away game to start with,” he said.

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Malakai Fekitoa

Malakai Fekitoa

Following his 2014 breakout season for the Highlanders and All Blacks, Malakai Fekitoa has re-signed with New Zealand Rugby for 2 years, extending his contract until at least the end of 2017.

Fekitoa’s commitment is a major coup for both New Zealand Rugby and the Highlanders and he joins a growing list of current All Blacks who have recommitted beyond this year.

He was 1 of only 4 players to play in all 17 Highlanders’ games last year, staking his claim on the No 13 jersey early with his eye-catching performance in the opening round of the 2014 Super Rugby Competition against his old team, the Blues.

He was also 1 of 2 players to play every possible minute for their team last season (1360 across 17 appearances), the other being Michael Hooper who played 1440, including the Final.

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Ma'a Nonu

Ma’a Nonu

All Black Ma’a Nonu is back at centre for the Hurricanes as they prepare to face the Bulls in a Super Rugby clash at Loftus Versfeld on Friday.

Nonu missed the Hurricanes’ 22 / 8 win over the Lions in Johannesburg last

weekend to attend the birth of his child, but has slotted into the starting fifteen this week.

It will be Nonu’s 145th Super Rugby appearance, and 1st for the Hurricanes since 2011.

The match will also be a significant occasion for Manawatu flank Callum Gibbins, who is set to get his 1st start for the Hurricanes.

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Hosea Gear

Hosea Gear

Aaron Cruden

Aaron Cruden

Liam Messam

Liam Messam

The Chiefs have injected some All Black experience for the Round 2 match against the Brumbies on Friday.

All Blacks Liam Messam and Aaron Cruden come into the starting team, as does former international Hosea Gear.

Current New Zealand and World Rugby Player of the Year, Brodie Retallick, will make his 1st appearance of the season from the bench.

In total, Chiefs coach Dave Rennie has made 6 changes to the starting side originally named to face the Blues last week.

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Johan Ackermann

Johan Ackermann

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

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

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

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

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Lwazi Mvovo

Lwazi Mvovo

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

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

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

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

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Lodewyk De Jager

Lodewyk de Jager

Cheetahs lock Lood de Jager will be sidelined for at least 3 months after undergoing an operation to repair injured elbow ligaments.

De Jager left the field in the 1st half of the Cheetahs’ 35 / 29 Super Rugby win against the Sharks at Growthpoint Kings Park in Durban last Saturday.

It was feared that he had broken his elbow, but X-rays revealed only ligament damage.

But the Springbok was still forced to go under the knife on Tuesday.

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Israel Dagg

Israel Dagg

Dan Carter

Dan Carter

Crusaders pivot Dan Carter is set to miss the Christchurch-based team’s clash against the Highlanders in Dunedin on Saturday.

Carter hurt his leg in his side’s 20 / 10 loss to the Melbourne Rebels last weekend and although Crusaders assistant coach Aaron Mauger believes the injury isn’t serious, he said it’s unlikely that the All Blacks flyhalf would be considered to play this weekend.

That means that Colin Slade is expected to start in the No 10 jeresey.

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Jesse Kriel

Jesse Kriel

Regular captain and No 8 Pierre Spies is back at the helm of the Vodacom Bulls when they take on the Hurricanes at Loftus Versfeld on Friday in Round 2 of the Vodacom Super Rugby competition.

Spies takes over the captaincy from Victor Matfield and the No 8 jumper from Arno Botha, who picked up an injury in the Vodacom Bulls tournament opener last weekend against the DHL Stormers.

The regular Bulls leader was eased back into action off the bench, but is now fit to start in a team that shows 4 changes to the starting line-up and 6 all-together from the one that started their campaign with a disappointing loss against the Cape side.

Spies comes in for Botha, with his place on the bench taken by rookie loose forward Hanro Liebenberg, who could earn a first start should he take to the field.

The injury to Werner Kruger also resulted in a front row shuffle. Trevor Nyakane will move from the left side of the front row to the right and Morné Mellett off the bench into the No 1 jersey.

A fit-again Dean Greyling will take Mellett’s place on the bench.

The other unforced change is at fullback where Jesse Kriel will start, with Jurgen Visser moving down to the bench in a straight swop with the Junior Springbok player.

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WhistleSANZAR has announced Match Official appointments for Round 2 of the 2015 Super Rugby season.

On Friday we have 3 matches, with the Chiefs hosting the Brumbies, the Melbourne Rebels hosting the Waratahs and the Vodacom Bulls hosting the Hurricanes.

On Saturday we have 4 matches, with the Highlanders kicking off their season after an early BYE weekend against the Crusaders, the Reds against the Western Force and followed by 2 games in South Africa, the one between the DHL Stormers against the Blues and the Cell C Sharks against the Emirates Lions.

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Michael Cheika

Michael Cheika

Michael Cheika has insisted that he will be able to juggle his jobs as Wallabies and Waratahs coach throughout the 2015 Super Rugby season.

The Waratahs went unbeaten at home last year on their way to winning their first Super Rugby title which led to Cheika being appointed as Wallabies coach after Ewen McKenzie stepped down.

Cheika will step down as Waratahs coach at the end of the 2015 Super Rugby season but as they lost their first match since he took on the dual role questions would inevitably follow about whether he would be able to concentrate fully on both roles.

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Tendai 'Beast' Mtawarira

Tendai ‘Beast’ Mtawarira

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

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

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

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Dan Carter

Dan Carter

Details on Dan Carter’s leg injury are still fuzzy heading towards the Crusaders match against the Highlanders on Saturday.

The official line signalled some improvement when he was assessed by the medical staff and then involved in the squad’s light workout on Monday at their Christchurch headquarters.

During the Crusaders’ opening Super Rugby loss to the Rebels, Carter took a knock to his lower right leg which he then aggravated when he made a hasty clearing kick from his in-goal area.

The limping flyhalf stayed on for a further 15 minutes hoping the discomfort from his “dead leg” would ease. He had to be subbed and when he fronted for interviews later, Carter was optimistic there was no significant issue.

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WaratahsThe Waratahs have named an unchanged starting line-up for their match against the Melbourne Rebels in Melbourne on Friday.

Pat McCutcheon and Peter Betham are added to a list of reserves that will travel south, with coach Michael Cheika naming his bench closer to the game.

Flyhalf Bernard Foley will celebrate his 50th Super Rugby cap this week, while teammates Adam Ashley-Cooper and Stephen Hoiles will notch their 50th Waratahs Super Rugby caps in the same match.

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Allister Coetzee

Allister Coetzee

The Stormers have no major injury concerns in their camp this week, as they get set to host the Blues at Newlands on Saturday (17:05 SA Time).

The men from the Cape opened their 2015 Super Rugby campaign with a memorable 29 / 17 win over the Bulls in Pretoria and they could be boosted this week by the return of forwards Frans Malherbe and Siya Kolisi and wing Kobus van Wyk.

The trio missed the trip to Pretoria, but more will be known about their participation in Round 2 when the team is announced on Thursday, just before lunch-time.

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Johan Ackermann

Johan Ackermann

Emirates Lions coach Johan Ackermann has refused to try and reign his players in, continuing to back them despite their frustrating Vodacom Super Rugby loss to the Hurricanes at Emirates Airline Park on Friday night.

Ackermann has defended his team’s inability to score despite dominating every facet of play except the scoreboard, saying the execution and decision-making needs to improve, not the game plan.

The coach staunchly defended his team’s expansive approach and feels they simply need to hone their play better to get the right results.

“Our attack worked for us, the execution let us down,” Ackermann said.

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BullsThe Vodacom Bulls took quite a beating on the weekend against a DHL Stormers side who boasted far fewer Springboks and seasoned players than the Bulls.

Nick Mallett talks about how bad the Bulls really were.

JJ Engelbrecht, cited for a dangerous tackle received an off-field Yellow Card – a stern warning not to repeat the type of incident.

Frans Ludeke, Vodacom Bulls coach portrayed his usual diplomatic self… or is that his usual dim-witted self as some would have us believe, when questioned on the Bulls lacklustre performance on the weekend.

The Bulls also released a fitness report today, which reads like a war-veterans hospital checklist, with 3 more injuries, ahead of the Hurricanes clash on Friday evening. The injuries, specially amongst frontrowers are worrying, very worrying seeing as the Bulls scrums have been degenerating at a rate of knots in 2015… well actually for a number of seasons now… and the Bulls Brains Trust, if one could call it that, seems to have no answers to shore up the Bulls scrumming woes.

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Tendai 'Beast Mtawarira

Tendai ‘Beast Mtawarira

Lodewyk De Jager

Lodewyk de Jager

Bismarck du Plessis

Bismarck du Plessis

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

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

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

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Scott Higginbotham

Scott Higginbotham

A SANZAR judicial hearing has found Scott Higginbotham of the Rebels not guilty of stamping on Richie Mccaw after he was cited against the Crusaders at the weekend.

No further sanction has been imposed on the player.

The incident occurred in the 50th minute during the match between the Crusaders and Rebels at AMI Stadium in Christchurch last Friday.

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Jamie-Jerry Taulagi

Jamie-Jerry Taulagi

The Reds paid a dear price for their heavy (3 / 47) loss to the Brumbies in a Super Rugby Round 1 match in Canberra at the weekend.

They will be without fullback Jamie-Jerry Taulagi and flyhalf Duncan Paia’aua for this week’s encounter the high-riding Western Force in Brisbane.

Taulagi suffered a Grade 2 MCL strain and will be sidelined for 6 to 8 weeks.

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David Pocock

David Pocock

David Pocock will not be available for selection this Friday after receiving a grade-one syndesmosis to his ankle during Friday’s win over the Reds in Canberra.

Pocock did not train with the main squad on Monday. He said it was now a matter of getting his ankle right for a quick return to the field.

“Obviously it’s a disappointing outcome and not what I wanted, having spent a long time out. But it’s treatable and I know I’m in good hands here with the Brumbies medical team,” Pocock said.

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Pek Cowan

Pek Cowan

Wallabies prop Pek Cowan has been cleared of serious injury after being carried off the pitch in the wake of a scrum collapse in the Super Rugby match between Western Force and the Waratahs on Sunday.

It looked like being a miserable start to the new season for the versatile 10-cap front row forward when he received lengthy treatment on the pitch before being carted off in a neck brace.

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Nic Stirzaker

Nic Stirzaker

The Duty Judicial Officer has accepted an acknowledgement of breach by Nic Stirzaker of the Rebels under Law 10.4 (b) Stamping or trampling. A player must not stamp or trample an opponent.

Stirzaker was cited after a Super Rugby match between the Crusaders and the Rebels at AMI Stadium, Christchurch on Friday 13 February 2015.

The player has been suspended from all forms of the game for one week up to and including Sunday 22 February 2015.

The Duty Judicial Officer, Nicholas Davidson QC, assessed the case and recorded:

“I took into account that the player admitted stamping which was accepted as reckless to the point of contact.

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James Horwill

James Horwill

The Duty Judicial Officer has determined that no further sanction will be imposed upon James Horwill of the Reds after he was issued a red card during a Super Rugby match at the weekend.

Horwill was issued a yellow card on two separate occasions for infringements at the breakdown, and at the maul. These occurred in the 48th and 75th minutes in the match between the Brumbies and the Reds at GIO Stadium in Canberra on 13 February 2015, and he was shown a red card on the second occasion.

SANZAR Duty Judicial Officer Nicholas Davidson QC assessed the case and recorded the following:

“While no further sanction has been imposed, this is a warning to players and teams that the judiciary regards team warnings as a responsibility for all players to heed.

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