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Vodacom Bulls

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Vodacom BullsIn the first week of discussion of Super Rugby squad contenders for 2015 (17 to 21 December), we will discuss 2 positions in 10 seperate Articles (Props & Hookers) – seperating the Articles of the 5 SA Super Rugby participating franchises.

That means 10 Super Rugby Articles every week from now on.

The basic idea is to discuss the players IN the Super Rugby Group, and not all the options beyond that.

In this Article we look at the contenders for PROPS in the Vodacom Bulls 2015 Super Rugby group, and whether they could force their way into Bok contention.

Suggestions as to what to add to these Articles are welcome, but please hurry as the next Article will follow this one shortly!

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Rugby-Talk.com

It is officially the dreaded OFF-SEASON for Southern Hemisphere rugby, so it means under normal circumstances that we would be going into withdrawal system mode very, very soon… but NEVER here on Rugby-Talk.com.

As from this week (sometime), we will be starting IN DEPTH DISCUSSIONS on the INDIVIDUAL POSITIONS and the PLAYERS who will be filling these positions for the 5 South African Super Rugby Franchises.

That alone means 40 Articles to feast on (8 per Franchise), at a rate of 2 per midweek day, therefor roughly 10 per week, and subsequently it will take us roughly 4 weeks to complete… which basically covers most of the off-season.

But, that is not all folks, we will also be covering INTERNATIONAL CRICKET and some of the NORTHERN HEMISPHERE RUGBY.

In addition we will have a Christmas and New Year’s message, which has also proven popular over the years.

So, lots to look forward to, hold on to your boots!

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Frik Kirsten

Frik Kirsten

The Blue Bulls Company (Pty) Ltd on Wednesday confirmed the retirement from rugby by Vodacom Bulls prop Frik Kirsten. The former Junior Springbok player suffered a neck injury in March whilst playing his 34th match for the Vodacom Bulls and underwent surgery after that. Although the surgery proved successful, medical advice was for the 26-year old player not to play rugby again.

Kirsten, who studied B.Comm (Accounting) at the University of Pretoria while playing professional rugby, graduated with an honours degree and will now pursue a career in accounting, hoping to become a chartered accountant.

Xander Janse van Rensburg, High Performance Manager at the Blue Bulls Company, said it was sad to lose a player of Kirsten’s ability, but applauded the fact that the player prepared for a career after rugby while still playing.

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Vodacom Blue BullsAs 2014 draws to an end, and the festive spirit starts to take over, it also brings with it a time to reflect on the year gone by. The Blue Bulls Company today hosted their annual Player Awards at very casual and relaxed event hosted on the Loftus B-Field.

All the contracted players, including the Under 19’s, Under 21’s and senior teams, attended the event. They were also joined by a host of team management, administration staff, sponsors and partners.

 

Full list of awards:

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BullsFor long the bastion of a structured approach to rugby, the Blue Bulls are flirting with an attacking mindset.

Bulls captain Pierre Spies suggested as much at the launch of their latest jersey for the Super Rugby season on Thursday.

“You want to create an attacking mindset within the players, and in a lot of ways the guys have felt restricted and also bound themselves to the plan that was on the table,” Spies said in Pretoria.

“That is never how it should have been, the plan is to create an environment where we can go out and play rugby.

“The big thing is to cultivate and attacking mindset and an enjoyment of the game.”

The Bulls have been the pace-setting South African team in the previous decade where they won an unprecedented three Super Rugby titles.

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Vodacom Bulls 2015 Home Kit

Vodacom Bulls 2015 Home Kit

PUMA has launched the new Vodacom Bulls Super Rugby 2015 kit, which is rich in heritage, pays homage to the team’s loyal fans and features a striking Bull’s head.

The Bull’s head wraps around the player’s body to create a 360-degree effect and when the team gathers on the field, the design’s collective impression is of a herd of Bulls, standing strong and unified by years of history.

“The new PUMA kit for the Vodacom Bulls marks a departure from the last few seasons kit,” said PUMA South Africa Marketing Director Brett Bellinger. “PUMA together with the Vodacom Bulls decided it was time to return to something a little more traditional and pay tribute to the strong Bulls brand and branding that has made them the most decorated Vodacom Super Rugby Team in South Africa. We also take this opportunity to wish the team well as they prepare for the upcoming season.”

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Flip van der Merwe

Flip van der Merwe

The Bulls were dealt a cruel blow just days into their pre-season, with confirmation that Springbok Flip van der Merwe is set to miss the start of the 2015 season.

Bulls coach Frans Ludeke, confirmed that Van der Merwe will undergo surgery next Tuesday after damaging his pectoral muscle.

“It was a freak accident,” Ludeke said, when asked about the burly lock that was ruled out for the latter half of 2014 after suffering a serious knee injury during the second Springbok Test against Wales in June.

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BullsThree extend contracts as Vodacom Bulls get ready for 2015 Vodacom Super Rugby season:

The Blue Bulls Company (Pty) Ltd on Thursday confirmed that Werner Kruger, Akona Ndungane and Duncan Matthews have extended their contracts and will be available to play for the Vodacom Bulls in the 2015 Vodacom Super Rugby competition. Former Springbok winger Ndungane extended his contract till the end of the 2015 Super Rugby competition, while prop Kruger, who made his Springbok debut in 2011, signed on till October 2016.

Outside back Duncan Matthews, who represented the South African Under-20 side in 2014, will stay with the Pretoria franchise till at least October 2016.

BBC’s High Performance Manager, Xander Janse van Rensburg, confirmed that the majority of the provisional Vodacom Bulls squad for next year have signed up till the end of 2016.
“We had a long term plan with some of these younger players which started in 2012 already and it is great to see that they are now blossoming in our structures. Added to some new signings for next season, I think the 2015 Super Rugby season could be an exciting one for our supporters,” Janse van Rensburg said.

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Jono Ross

Jono Ross

The Blue Bulls Company has granted Vodacom Blue Bulls loose forward Jono Ross an early release from his contract to allow the player the opportunity to join the French club, Stade Francais.

Ross will join the Paris-based club on 1 December 2014.

Vodacom Blue Bulls coach Frans Ludeke admitted that it was a set-back losing a former captain and versatile loose forward, but pointed to the huge stock of talented players that will still be available to the Blue Bulls Company in 2015.

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Sampie Mastriet

Sampie Mastriet

Lohan Jacobs

Lohan Jacobs

Marvin Orie

Marvin Orie

Rohan Janse van Rensburg

Rohan Janse van Rensburg

The Xerox Golden Lions have snapped up a quartet of Vodacom Blue Bulls players – including two SA under-20 stars and a Springbok Sevens player for the upcoming season as more discontent sets in in Pretoria.

Already the Bulls lost one of their rising stars, hooker Bongi Mbonambi, to Western Province earlier this year, while snapping up Boks Trevor Nyakane and Adriaan Strauss for the upcoming season as well as Toyota Cheetahs flanker Lappies Labuschagne.

But now the cross-Jukskei trek has seen the Bulls lose not only Springbok Sevens flyer Sampie Mastriet to the Lions, but also top young players Marvin Orie, Rohan Janse van Rensburg and Lohan Jacobs.

The quartet have signed for the Lions after failing to find any meaningful game time at the Bulls as the bottleneck at the top continues.

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Grant Hattingh

Grant Hattingh

Callie Visagie

Callie Visagie

The Vodacom Bulls are likely to lose the services of hooker Callie Visagie for the first few weeks of the 2015 season as he underwent shoulder surgery Tuesday in Pretoria.

With the 2014 season having come to an end, Visagie and lock Grant Hattingh are the two medical headaches for the Bulls. The surgery, in both cases is to rectify injuries that have plagued them the entire season.

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Super Rugby TropheeAll of the Bulls, Stormers and Sharks, traditionally South Africa’s strongest franchises in Super Rugby, have reason to feel fairly upbeat about their 2015 ordinary-season schedules.

SANZAR revealed the roster for next season – the last before the competition expands yet again – this week, and at least on paper there seems a better chance of the SA challenge being better than this year’s (only the Sharks made the playoffs, and were losing semi-finalists) as the draw is largely kind to the domestic trio of superpowers.

Jake White’s Sharks were widely considered to have had a dream draw in 2014, given the opportunity it presented for them to build a tidy head of steam on South African soil – including a generous allocation of Kings Park games – before their overseas leg.

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Kobus van Wyk

WP flyer, Kobus van Wyk

Surprise, surprise… there are the Sharks and Western Province, back dominating Currie Cup rugby.

Many changes could still happen, of course, given that the 2014 competition is not quite a third of the way through the pre-knockout phase, but it is interesting nevertheless that the two coastal powers have already seized just a hint of a grip.

It will only increase speculation that the pair may be set for a third successive meeting in the final this year, something that has not happened since the Blue Bulls and Cheetahs met in each of the 2004, 2005 and 2006 showpieces.

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Derick Minnie

“Cheers vir eers!” Derick Minnie op pad vorentoe Saterdag teen die Bloubulle op Ellispark.

Niemand wil dit hard sê nie, maar almal weet dit: Suid-Afrikaanse rugby is in die #2%$.

Vir diegene wat onlangs uit ’n diep slaap uit ontwaak het, hier is die feite: Net een Suid-Afrikaanse span kon dit tot in ’n Super Rugby semi-finaal maak. En daar het hulle ook in die pomp geduik. Die ander klomp – die Bulle, Stormers, Leeus en Cheetahs het redelik swak gedoen.

Hoe kan ’n land soos Suid-Afrika, wat meer spelers as Nieu-Seeland en Australië saam het, so sleg uit die bus uit bliksem?

Om daardie vraag te beantwoord, moet ons teruggaan tot ons terugkeer tot internasionale rugby in 1992.

Dan sal ons sien dat ons intussen nooit pasaangeërs was nie. Nie met taktiek nie en nie met afrigting nie.

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World Club 7'sThomond Park showcased an action packed day of world-class rugby at the inaugural Limerick World Club 7’s with the Munster 7’s team topping their group. Supporters were treated to 18 matches of fast paced 7’s rugby from top northern and southern hemisphere clubs as the three pools were completed on day one of the event.

Munster, debuting in the World Club 7’s, put on a great show for the home crowd beating San Francisco and a strong Moscow Saracens side in their opening two games with Luke O’Dea and Ronan O’Mahony the standout performers. The home side then faced off against Fijian side Daveta in the final game of the day and produced a wonder display which included two tries from Darren Sweetman to beat the Fijian side 17-5 and top Pool C.

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Adriaan Strauss

Adriaan Strauss

Springbok hooker Adriaan Strauss has broken his silence, saying he is excited at the prospect of moving to the Bulls at the end of the season.

The Bulls officially announced the move on Monday, but Strauss revealed exclusively to the supersport.com website that his decision was taken to further his career.

Strauss signed a two-year contract to move to the Bulls, following fellow Cheetahs players Trevor Nyakane and Lappies Labuschagné who will also line up for the Pretoria franchise in next year’s Super Rugby competition.

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Adriaan Strauss

Adriaan Strauss

Trevor Nyakane

Trevor Nyakane

Lappies Labuschagne

Lappies Labuschagne

Jamba Ulengo

Jamba Ulengo

The Blue Bulls Company (Pty) Ltd is pleased to announce the signings of Adriaan Strauss, Trevor Nyakane, Pieter Labuschagne and Jamba Ulengo.  All three forwards will join the Vodacom Bulls on November 1st, 2014, while Ulengo has already started training with the Vodacom Blue Bulls.

Springbok hooker Strauss, who captained the Toyota Cheetahs in recent seasons, was South Africa’s Vodacom Super Rugby Player of the Year in 2013 and returns to Loftus Versfeld, where he made his Vodacom Super Rugby career in 2006 after a seven year absence. He has signed a two year deal.

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Frans LudekeVoor mense aanstoot neem, hierdie is net ‘n grappie, dis nie ernstig of waar nie!

Beste Murray,

Ek is op die oomblik effens depro na vanjaar se Superrugbyseisoen. Wel, die seisoen is amptelik natuurlik nie verby nie, maar vir my en die Bulle is dit natuurlik neusie verby. Ek was in ’n stadium lus om myself aan ’n dakbalk in my garage op te hang, maar as ek eerlik moet wees, het die Sharks se pak slae in Christchurch laasweek my minder kak oor myself laat voel.

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Adriaan Strauss

Adriaan Strauss who earlier this week was seen wearing a Cheetah jersey at the unveiling of the new look kit.

In a somewhat confusing week for Adriaan Strauss fans, the big question is, did he or didn’t he? Conflicting reports indicate that he signed for the Bulls, and others that he will be remaining at the Cheetahs.

Earlier this week, at the unveiling of the new Blue Bulls and Free State Cheetahs jerseys for the 2014 Currie Cup, Strauss was the poster boy for the Cheetahs.

What I find strange though, is a specific question asked to him during a Q & A session. Have a look at question No. 8 posed to him and decide whether that was already a dead giveaway.

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Jamba Ulengo

Jamba Ulengo

The Bulls continued on their wave of signings as they have snapped up Blitzbok star Jamba Ulengo to join them alongside the likes of Bok Trevor Nyakane and loose forward Lappies Labuschagne next year.

Ulengo, who was a regular both in Paul Treu and Neil Powell’s Springbok Sevens sides, is a big fast skilful runner on the wing who loves to score tries and other than his exploits on the HSBC World Sevens Series has also played for Shimlas in the Varsity Cup and for the Toyota Cheetahs at Absa Currie Cup level.

The announcement of the trio – plus the loss of hooker Bongi Mbonambi to the Stormers – will be made in the next day or so by the Bulls after they have completed dotting all the I’s and crossing the T’s on the various contracts and may also include an announcement of Springbok hooker Adriaan Strauss as well.

Strauss has been given until Wednesday to make a decision on his future by the Bulls, who are looking to lure him to Loftus as well, but pressure from Bloemfontein, where he owns two businesses and a renewed big money offer from the Cheetahs has given him second thoughts.

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Adriaan Strauss

Adriaan Strauss

It appears Cheetahs hooker Adriaan Strauss will make a U-turn and decide not to move from the Cheetahs to the Bulls.

It was reported earlier that Strauss’s move to Pretoria was a done deal, but business interests in Bloemfontein now look likely to keep Strauss at the Cheetahs.

According to reports, the Cheetahs also significantly upped their offer for Strauss and he said that he’ll make a final decision on his future this week.

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Ugly Jerseys

“And then people want to know why we take drugs, to forget the fact that we are dressed as turds, that’s why”

In rugby, like most sports, teams and athletes have had a bad playing strip or two. Individual sports that comes to mind is cycling and golf. There have been some truly terrible creations that those athletes have worn, all in the name of sponsorship and moolah.

In rugby, its generally the alternate, or so called away strip, where designers indulge in a bit too much whacky weed before sitting down in front of the drawing boards. For the most part, kits are practical and speak of tradition and history, however, there are times that the Sporting and Designing Gods sincerely fall out and abominations like the ones that appear below.

These choices of ours are by no means exhaustive and is fairly recent in it’s selection, however, if you disagree, let us know and tell us which ones you think should have made the cut.

There’s ccertainly been some strange kit in recent years!

It appears the Kit sponsors want to stamp some sort of mark on their creations, so prepare yourself for some more strange jerseys in future!

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Jacques Potgieter

Jacques Potgieter – enjoying the Sydney experience

I’m sure that everybody who has been following the Waratahs and their progress to ending first on the 2014 Super Rugby log will agree that Jacques Potgieter has played an integral part in their rise.

He has been playing with the same robust “kamikaze” style that first got Heyneke Meyer to lure him to the Bulls, and that gave him his three Springbok caps, but he has refined his game at the same time.

As good as he has been to the Waratahs, the Waratahs have been equally good to him. He has evolved as a rugby player and instead of the Bulls forward blueprint of head down and charge, he has been delivering some deft offloads and touches. He is a much more rounded player, and the frightening part is, all within the space of one season.

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Flip van der Merwe

Flip van der Merwe

Springbok and Bulls lock Flip van der Merwe is only expected back on the field next year, but he’s already determined to make a positive return going into the next Rugby World Cup.

Van der Merwe suffered a serious knee injury during the second Springbok Test against Wales in June. He’s set to be sidelined for six months, which means he’ll only make his comeback during next year’s Super Rugby tournament.

The 29-year-old will miss the Springboks’ Rugby Championship campaign and end-of-year European tour, as well as the Blue Bulls’ Currie Cup campiagn.

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Frans Ludeke

Frans Ludeke

As the well-worn idiom goes: ‘The tallest trees catch the most wind.’ In the case of Bulls coach Frans Ludeke, that has come in the form of harsh criticism.

While there was some critique over his ‘management’ of veteran Victor Matfield and numerous barbs over his backline choices, it was the selection of his loose forwards that attracted the most fiendish and frightful comments.

The Bulls were particularly vulnerable at the breakdowns, where the absence of a specialist openside flank – in the wake of injuries to Deon Stegmann and Dewald Potgieter – cost them dearly.

Ludeke persisted with Jono Ross, who by his own admission is more suitable on the blindside or at No 8.

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Luther Obi

Luther Obi

The Vodacom Bulls have already lost their chance to bring Jacques Potgieter back, and now it seems they’re likely to lose another tussle with the Lions for the services of promising winger Luther Obi.

Obi has been seen as the long-term replacement at the Pretoria union for veteran winger Akona Ndungane, whose contract runs out at the end of the season.

But the Bulls were negotiating with Obi anyway, until they were told to stop by the Leopards Rugby Union as he still has a year to run on his contract.

The Leopards have made it clear that they will entertain a move for Obi for Vodacom Super Rugby if the Bulls want him, but that this will be subject to a transfer fee negotiation.

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Bulls

Roelof Smit

Roelof Smit

Vodacom Bulls coach Frans Ludeke handed flanker Roelof Smit a first time starting berth in announcing his team to play the Melbourne Rebels at Loftus Versfeld on Friday. Smit debuted for the Vodacom Bulls from the bench against the DHL Stormers last weekend and now start in the number six jersey in one of seven changes to the starting line-up.

Jurgen Visser is back at fullback, having recovered from an abductor strain that kept him out of the Newlands clash and replace Ulrich Beyers. Francois Hougaard will play on the wing, replacing the injured Akona Ndungane, with Piet van Zyl starting at scrumhalf. With Grant Hattingh injured, Jacques Engelbrecht will move back to No 8, Jono Ross moves to 7 and Smit slots in at 6.

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Jacques Potgieter

Jacques Potgieter

The Waratahs used the power of the Australian dollar to kill off any hopes that the Vodacom Bulls may have had of luring utility forward Jacques Potgieter back to South Africa.

Potgieter is currently having a superb season with the Vodacom Super Rugby log leaders and has been one of the reasons Michael Cheika’s side has been doing so well, using his skills to good effect to provide more than just a traditional forward role with the Sydney-based franchise.

The Bulls had opened negotiations with Potgieter to return for next year’s Super Rugby tournament after he left them a year ago, but these were snubbed out by the Waratahs, who made a significant counter offer to keep him in Sydney.

It is understood that Potgieter wanted to return to try and make the squad for the Rugby World Cup after being in the Springbok set-up in 2012.

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Jan Serfontein

Jan Serfontein

Handré Pollard

Handré Pollard

Marcel van der Merwe

Marcel van der Merwe

The Blue Bulls Company (Pty) Ltd confirmed that three incumbent Springboks, Jan Serfontein, Handre Pollard and Marcel van der Merwe extended their commitments to the Vodacom Bulls and Vodacom Blue Bulls.

Serfontein (2017), Van der Merwe (2016) and Pollard (2017) all confirmed or extended their contracts with the BBC.

Van der Merwe made his international debut for the Springboks against Scotland last weekend and according to the Manager: High Performance at the BBC, Xander Janse van Rensburg, a true reflection of the abilities of the prop.

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Victor Matfield

Victor Matfield

Handré Pollard

Handré Pollard

Vodacom Bulls coach Frans Ludeke named Victor Matfield to lead the team to play the DHL Stormers at DHL Newlands in Cape Town on Saturday.

Ludeke made four changes and a positional switch to the starting team that lost their last Vodacom Super Rugby outing, against the Lions in Johannesburg, with Matfield and Paul Willemse starting at lock and Handré Pollard at flyhalf. Werner Kruger also swop with Marcel van der Merwe in the regular rotation of the front row.

Grant Hattingh will vacate the lock position to make way for Matfield and again move to the back of the scrum in a positional switch that will also see Jacques Engelbrecht run out at flank.

Matfield was rested against the Lions and will lock the scrum with Willemse, who replaces injured captain, Flip van der Merwe, in the number four jersey. Engelbrecht’s move to the side of the scrum is a result of the injury to Jacques du Plessis.

Pollard missed the Lions clash due to his Junior Springbok commitments in New Zealand and returns to start at number 10. Jacques-Louis Potgieter moves to the bench in place of Louis Fouché.

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Handré Pollard

Handré Pollard

Handre Pollard is not your typical Bulls flyhalf and when he is in control, the Bulls become a different creature all together.

Pollard has enjoyed a meteoric rise to stardom culminating in a starting No 10 spot for the Springboks against Scotland on the weekend.

Now, as he returns to Pretoria to get ready for his first senior match in his home province at Newlands, against the Stormers, Pollard is already causing a lot of head-scratching in the Cape.

The Bulls have always been a powerful yet predictable side, especially when it comes to the flyhalf’s role.

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Burger Geldenhuys

Burger Geldenhuys

BullsFormer Springbok and Bulls loose forward Burger Geldenhuys fears the Pretoria side may struggle at the breakdowns against the Stormers at Newlands this weekend.

With Jacques du Plessis out with a broken jaw, and Deon Stegmann still sidelined with a groin injury, the Bulls will tackle the Stormers with a slightly make-shift loose trio.

Grant Hattingh, Jacques Engelbrecht and Jono Ross are likely to have their hands full on the ground. None of them are renowned for being great ball fetchers.

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  • grootblousmile 20 Dec 2014, 17:39 SAST - Certainly not shabby for Super Rugby props! I expect young Thomas du Toit to surpass Dale Chadwick in the pecking...
  • MacroBlom 20 Dec 2014, 13:37 SAST - @ Jeraldjay: Money and the really talented youngsters go play basketball football or baseball... I suppose i understand the search...
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  • nortie 20 Dec 2014, 13:07 SAST - Anyone going in the ring against Messam might want to look at this, chap has a glass throat and will...
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