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Willem Alberts

South AfricaIt is unlikely that the Springboks will rest a few key forwards for their year-end tour to Europe.

According to reports on Sunday, there will be no respite for stalwarts like Jannie du Plessis, Beast Mtawarira, Adriaan Strauss, Bismarck du Plessis and Duane Vermeulen as Boks aim to pick their best possible team for the tour.

The Boks play four Tests back-to-back against Ireland (Dublin, 8 November), England (London, 15 November), Italy (Padova, 22 November) and Wales (Cardiff, 29 November).

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Warren Whiteley

Warren Whiteley

Willem Alberts has been ruled out of the Springboks’ Rugby Championship tour to Australia and New Zealand and will be replaced in the 30-man squad by Warren Whiteley.

Alberts missed both Test victories against Argentina because of a hamstring injury and he underwent a fitness test on Thursday afternoon.

Although his hamstring is recovering well, he experienced some nerve irritation in his lower back and was sent for scans.

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Willem Alberts

Willem Alberts

Willem Alberts says he’ll be ready to play for the Springboks in their Rugby Championship encounter against Australia in Perth on 6 September.

Loose forward Alberts and lock Victor Matfield were on Monday recalled to the Springbok squad for the trip Down Under. Both missed the home and away Tests against Argentina because of injury.

Matfield suffered a knee injury during a cleaning drill, while Alberts withdrew shortly before the game in Pretoria as he picked up a hamstring tear during the captain’s training run.

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Jean Deysel

Jean Deysel

The Cell C Sharks will field a team resting Bismarck and Jannie du Plessis and Willem Alberts (all on the bench)… and also still without Patrick Lambie, but with Jean Deysel captaining the side and Frans Steyn back in his favoured position of Inside Centre.

This of course means that Tim Swiel starts at Flyhalf, Dale Chadwick at loosehead prop, Kyle Cooper as starting hooker and Lourens Adriaanse as starting tighthead prop.

S’Bura Sithole is back at Outside centre and JP Pietersen moves back to Right wing, with SP Marais protecting the last vestage.

3 Other returning Springboks get starting positions, namely Marcell Coetzee, Stephan Lewies and Lwazi Mvovo.

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Jake White

Jake White

Cell C SharksJake White has hinted at a bold strategy to rest his returning Springboks with the Sharks having sewn up the South African conference and guaranteed some play-off rugby already.

The Sharks have an unassailable hold on the South African Conference and cannot finish the tournament any lower than third.

However, the plan is to finish in the top two and earn a direct route to a home semifinal without having to play a qualifying knock-out match.

White has indicated that if they are to really be competitive when it matters, it may require some tactical selection policies.

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Lood de Jager

Lood de Jager

Handré Pollard

Handré Pollard

As the announcement of the Springbok squad is awaited on Wednesday, speculation as to the possible composition of the side is gathering momentum.

At this stage it would appear that Johan Goosen is not over his injury worries and that Handré Pollard would leapfrog into the starting berth at flyhalf.

At lock Lood de Jager should get the nod and a 1st start at No 4 lock, in the absense of Flip van der Merwe, who is out with a longer term injury.

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Francois Steyn

Francois Steyn

South AfricaCell C Sharks backline star Frans Steyn is unlikely to feature for the Springboks in the June Internationals.

Steyn was one of 10 players who took no or little part in the field sessions at the Springbok training camp in Durban, which concluded on Wednesday.

Steyn has been suffering from a chronic knee dysfunction which has been managed by Sharks and upon a request from his franchise, the load on his knee was limited by keeping him out of training.

While the severity of the injury will only be confirmed later in the week, Steyn is expected to miss the June internationals. It is also possible that Steyn could miss the latter stages of Super Rugby, which would be a body blow to the Sharks.

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SharksThis is the fourth article in the series of Cell C Sharks 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 LOOSE FORWARDS in the Cell C Sharks 2014 Super Rugby group, and whether they could force their way into Bok contention.

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SharksIn this Article we look at the contenders for LOOSE FORWARDS at the Sharks 2013 Super Rugby group.

Loose Forward is a set of 3 positions where the Sharks have abundance of, but much will depend on the coaching staff’s game plans and which combinations to use accordingly and as we have seen with John Plumtree, you could very well see someone like Willem Alberts playing a game or two at lock.

But before I continue, let me get this out of the way first! The biggest problem at the Sharks at Loose Forward is the lack of a FETCHER and as many great Loose Forwards that they have, not having a fetcher is that one huge weakness. All one has to do is look back at the Currie Cup Final of 2012 and see how it hurt them as a team, specially with Bismarck du Plessis being out injured, because it is common knowledge that Bismarck du Plessis fulfills that role for the Sharks.

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Willem Alberts remains a doubtful starter for Saturday’s final test against England but the Springbok training session at Grey’s High on Monday brought some much needed tidings of joy for coach Heyneke Meyer.

Lock Juandre Kruger was assumed to be in doubt for the Nelson Mandela Stadium game here in Port Elizabeth after being carried off the field during the second test in Johannesburg with what was assumed to be a serious neck injury.

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There may be an upside in that the depth of his squad will now be tested in a dead-rubber test, but Heyneke Meyer’s plans to use the final match against England at Nelson Mandela Stadium as a build-up or dress-rehearsal for The Rugby Championship look set to be disrupted.

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South Africa’s momentum must be stopped at Eden Park tonight. If it is not, then the Springboks’ confidence will swell to frightening proportions in the months to come.

By TOBY ROBSON in Auckland – The Dominion Post

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