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Victor Matfield

Heyneke Meyer

Is Heyneke Meyer putting too many “old eggs” in one basket?

Springboks coach Heyneke Meyer continues his “Dad’s Army” approach by recalling veteran flanker Juan Smith for a training camp ahead of next month’s Rugby Championship.

French club Toulon confirmed three of their South African signings – Smith, lock Bakkies Botha and wing Bryan Habana – would be involved in the Boks camp.

Smith, 32, hasn’t played for the Boks since 2010 as Achilles injuries requiring four surgeries ravaged his career, eventually forcing him to “retire” early last year.

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Victor Matfield in the scrum cap Cosato does not like

Victor Matfield in the scrum cap Cosato does not like

Cosatu has called on ministers and sport administrators to intervene and bring more black players into South African rugby.

The trade union federation released a media statement in which it criticises the white “old boys club” which it believes still rules rugby in South Africa.

It follows the Springboks’ 55-6 win over Scotland in Port Elizabeth at the weekend – a match which was preceded by SARU president Oregan Hoskins urging Bok coach Heyneke Meyer to pick more black players.

Meyer did include a few more black players in his squad for the game in Port Elizabeth, but Cosatu was not impressed.

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Victor Matfield

Victor Matfield

South AfricaVictor Matfield will on Saturday become the most-capped Test player in the history of South African rugby when he leads the Springboks against Wales in his 112th Test match at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit.

Matfield made his Test debut on 30 June 2001 against Italy in Port Elizabeth. He retired after the Rugby World Cup in 2011 on 110 caps, but made a highly successful return to the game earlier this year.

“This is a fantastic accolade for Victor,” said Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer on Wednesday.

“He has been a terrific servant of the game in South Africa and has led his country with distinction since returning to the Green and Gold.”

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Lood de Jager

Lood de Jager

The value of having veteran Bakkies Botha in the Springbok squad could be measured by how much time it takes new cap Lood de Jager to settle and become comfortable at international level.

The influence that the likes of Botha and now Victor Matfield could have on the development of the young players in the squad has often been referred to as one of the main reasons for having them in the mix.

It was when he saw the awe with which the youngsters regarded Botha when he joined the Boks in Wales last year that coach Heyneke Meyer made the decision to get the one half of the legendary “Blood Brother” combination into the mix more regularly.

But there is nothing quite like hearing it direct from the horse’s mouth, and De Jager left little doubt after his announcement in the match day 23 for Saturday’s first test against Wales here in Durban on Saturday that the presence of both Botha and Matfield has added even greater impetus to what has already been a special time for him.

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Heyneke Meyer emotional and animated in the game between Wallabies vs Springboks, The Rugby Championship, Brisbane, 7 September 013

Heyneke Meyer emotional and animated in the game between Wallabies vs Springboks, The Rugby Championship, Brisbane, 7 September 2013

The June Internationals are close at hand and Heyneke Meyer has already showed his hand to a certain extent by selecting a Springbok Training Group, which currently excludes players plying their trade in the UK and Europe.

The recent injury to Springbok captain, Jean de Villiers, now determines that a  “Stand-in” Springbok captain will have to be selected and coupled to this the Springbok midfield positions are bound to be re-constituted.

Injuries to key players, specially flyhalf, as well as the 3-match suspension of Adriaan Strauss at hooker will see some juggling around of the match-day 23 and some very clear thinking will be required by Heyneke Meyer to address these issues.

We take a look at the Springbok Captaincy candidates as well as midfield combination and look at hooker options to function as back-up to Bismarck du Plessis.

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Victor Matfield & Bakkies Botha

Victor Matfield & Bakkies Botha

“Blood brothers” Victor Matfield and Bakkies Botha could be reunited as the Springbok lock pairing in Test matches this year, the Rapport newspaper indicates.

Botha, 34, recently returned to action for his French club Toulon after missing most of the year with a broken arm. He was a key figure for Toulon when they won the Heineken Cup final at the weekend, beating English club Saracens 23-6 at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium.

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Victor Matfield

Victor Matfield

Just a few months ago it would have been unthinkable, but the stage is set now for Victor Matfield to lead the Springboks into battle this year not only as a player, but possibly also as captain.

According to reports, with Jean de Villiers out for eight weeks with injury, Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer will have to find a new leader for the team as they head into four hard test weeks in June before embarking on a very important Castle Rugby Championship a year before the World Cup.

Much has been said about Matfield’s return to the playing field after he retired after the 2011 Rugby World Cup, but even now there can be few who don’t believe he is up to international rugby, even at the ripe old age of 37.

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Victor MatfieldSchalk BurgerCornal HendricksSibusiso SitholeLodewyk De JagerTeboho MahojeHeinrich BrussowSouth AfricaWorld champion Springboks Victor Matfield and Schalk Burger as well as two former Blitzbok stars, Cornal Hendricks and S’bura Sithole, are included in a 36-man squad to attend a national training camp in Durban from 25 to 28 May, the South African Rugby Union announced on Monday.

Cell C Sharks back Sithole and Hendricks, the SA Sevens Player of the Year in 2013, are two of eight uncapped players in the squad. The others are the Toyota Cheetahs duo of Lood de Jager (lock) and Teboho “Oupa” Mohoje (loose forward); Marcel van der Merwe (prop) and Jacques du Plessis (flank/lock) of the Vodacom Bulls; Marnitz Boshoff (flyhalf) of the Lions and the DHL Stormers’ Damian De Allende (centre/wing).

They will join Matfield, Burger and Toyota Cheetahs flanker Heinrich Brüssow – who are back in the national set up for the first time since the last Rugby World Cup in 2011 – in a training squad that is missing a number of players due to injury.

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer said he was happy with the form of a number of the country’s top players and the uncapped players who have grabbed their chance this season, as well as the re-appearance from retirement and long-term injury of Matfield and Burger.

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Victor MatfieldBullsThey may not be the same vintage as the 2009 and 2010 Vodacom Super Rugby champion team, but the Vodacom Bulls are steadily starting to believe in themselves – and that makes them very dangerous as the competition starts winding down to its business end.

But the Bulls know their real test was not against the struggling DHL Stormers last Saturday, but rather in a fortnight’s time when they face the Australian conference leaders, and the side that put them out of the semifinals last year – the Brumbies.

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Victor MatfieldBullsHe may not be as dynamic all over the park as in days gone by, but Bulls lock Victor Matfield remains the lineout king in Super Rugby.

The Springbok captained the Bulls in their final tour match against the Force in Perth last week after regular skipper Flip van der Merwe was suspended for punching.

Matfield did not succeed in spurring his team-mates to a first victory on tour, but one area in which they dominated, was at lineout time.

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Victor MatfieldJurgen VisserAkona NdunganeFrancois HougaardPaul WillemseBullsBongi MbonambiVodacom Bulls coach Frans Ludeke made five changes to his starting line-up to face the Force in Perth on Saturday, with suspension, rotation and injury forcing his hand.

Three changes are at the back.

Jurgen Visser has recovered from the foot injury that ruled him out of the Waratahs clash shortly before kick-off and slots in at fullback, where he replaces Ulrich Beyers. Francois Hougaard moves back to the base of the scrum following the knee-injury sustained by Piet van Zyl and a fit-again Akona Ndungane returns to his regular spot on the wing.

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BullsWilliam Small-SmithVictor MatfieldJono RossJacques du PlessisGrant HattinghThe Vodacom Bulls have made known, through their official Facebook Page, the names of the team to take on the Highlanders on Friday 11 April 2014.

As expected after the injuries to Dewald Potgieter and Deon Stegmann, who both have had to return to South Africa as a result of longer term injuries, Grant Hattingh gets the nod at No 8, with Jono Ross selected at openside flank (No 6) and with Jacques du Plessis at blindside flank (No 7).

Jacques “Vleis” Engelbrecht reverts to the bench.

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Flip van der MerweVleis EngelbrechtVictor MatfieldVodacom Bulls coach Frans Ludeke included fit-again lock and regular captain, Flip van der Merwe, for his side’s Vodacom Super Rugby match against the Hurricanes in Napier on Saturday.

The 67 cap lock takes over the captaincy and number five jersey from Victor Matfield in one of two changes to the starting pack that played against the Chiefs. In the other, Jacques Engelbrecht comes in at number 8, with Dewald Potgieter moving to the side of the scrum in place of Jacques du Plessis, who moves to the bench.

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Victor MatfieldBullsThe Bulls’ 34-34 draw with defending Super Rugby champions, the Chiefs was akin to defeat, stand-in captain Victor Matfield said after the match at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Saturday.
The hosts allowed the Chiefs to enforce the draw in the final 10 minutes of the match despite a 16-point advantage.

“Anything else than a victory at home feels like a loss, we’ll take the two points, it is against the champions but we should have had five,” Matfield said.

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Victor MatfieldPieter-Steph du ToitFormer Springbok captain Victor Matfield’s role ahead of this year’s international season has taken on vital importance, especially with the season-ending injury to Cell C Sharks player Pieter-Steph du Toit.

Matfield, who starred in the Vodacom Bulls’ win over the Blues a fortnight ago, will now feature even more prominently in Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer’s plans for the upcoming season, especially with the dearth of five locks around the country at the moment.

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BullsGrant HattinghFrik KirstenVictor MatfieldJacques-Louis PotgieterJacques-Louis Potgieter will earn a first Vodacom Bulls start at flyhalf since 15 May 2010 when the home side host the Lions in their first home match of the Vodacom Super Rugby competition at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

The 29-year old pivot is one of four changes made to the starting side that came up short in Bloemfontein last weekend, with Grant Hattingh (as no 8), Victor Matfield (at no 5) and Frik Kirsten (as starting tighthead) the others to earn a start on the weekend.

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BullsVictor MatfieldVictor Matfield, one of the most decorated players in the history of South African rugby, will make his return to the playing field for the Vodacom Bulls in Vodacom Super, the Blue Bulls Company (Pty) Ltd confirmed on Friday.

Matfield is a former Springbok captain with 110 Test caps behind his name – only John Smit, with 111 caps, has played more Tests for South Africa. He also lead the Vodacom Bulls to all three their Vodacom Super Rugby titles, in 2007, 2009 and 2010.

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Victor MatfieldVictor Matfield, who became a father for the third time on Wednesday, is expected to confirm his return to the playing field later this week.

Matfield’s name was omitted from the Bulls’ team ahead of their warm-up match against the Stormers at the Peter Mokaba Stadium on Saturday, when coach Frans Ludeke unveiled two teams for the trip to Polokwane.

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This is the third article in the range of Bulls Squad Contenders for Super Rugby 2014. We do 2 articles per week per South African Super Rugby participating franchise.

We discuss the players IN the Super Rugby Group, and not all the options beyond that.

In this Article we look at the contenders for LOCKS in the Vodacom Bulls 2014 Super Rugby group, and whether they could force their way into Bok contention.

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Vodacom BullsVictor MatfieldDerick HougaardThis week Bakkies Botha returned to the Springbok team and very soon his long-time second row partner Victor Matfield may be back on the playing field as well.

Reports suggest that both Matfield (Big Vic) and Bok flyhalf Derick Hougaard (Liefling) are on the comeback trail with the Bulls, hoping the experienced duo can play a role in their 2014 Super Rugby campaign.

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BullsThis article is written by a worried Bulls supporter. The heading could just as well read “Wake up Frans Ludeke” or “Frans fall on your sword please and save us this embarrassment”.

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