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Reds and Rebels name their sides

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The Queensland Reds have named their team to play the Melbourne Rebels in their Super Rugby opener at AAMI Park in Melbourne this Friday.

The starting side features two changes from the XV which took on Fiji Warriors in the Reds’ final pre-season match at Ballymore last week.

The Reds have welcomed lock Izack Rodda (shoulder) and winger Eto Nabuli (wrist) back from injury and into the starting team.

Rodda has earned a starting spot ahead of Kane Douglas, who shifts to the bench, while Nabuli returns in place of Izaia Perese, who suffered a knee injury in the match against the Warriors.

The match will also see former National Rugby Championship representative Brandon Paenga-Amosa make his Queensland and Super Rugby debut as the side’s starting hooker.

The Reds have also named three potential Super Rugby debutants on the bench in flanker Liam Wright, scrumhalf Tate McDermott and winger Filipo Daugunu. While JP Smith is in line to make his Queensland debut, having previously represented the Brumbies in Super Rugby.

The Melbourne Rebels have named their team for the opening game of the 2018 Super Rugby season against the Queensland Reds at AAMI Park in Melbourne on Friday.

Rebels Head Coach Dave Wessels has named 10 international Test players in his starting line-up, including nine current Wallabies and a Japanese international.

After a back injury sidelined him from pre-season trials, new recruit Will Genia will make his much-anticipated first appearance alongside experienced flyhalf Jack Debreczeni.

Victorian prop Tetera Faulkner will run out in front of family and friends for the first time in a Rebels jersey.

Captain Adam Coleman and Matt Philip have been paired in an international second row while Wallaby and Japanese representatives Lopeti Timani and Amanaki Mafi, have been included in the back row.

Experienced Rebels Reece Hodge and Tom English will partner in the centres while Wallaby flyer Sefa Naivalu and young gun Jack Maddocks will start on the wings. Experienced fullback Dane Haylett-Petty completes the starting back three.

Teams:

 

Melbourne Rebels: 15 Dane Haylett-Petty, 14 Jack Maddocks, 13 Tom English, 12 Reece Hodge, 11 Sefa Naivalu, 10 Jack Debreczeni, 9 Will Genia, 8 Amanaki Mafi, 7 Angus Cottrell, 6 Lopeti Timani, 5 Adam Coleman (c), 4 5Matt Philip, 3 Jermaine Ainsley, 2 Jordan Uelese, 1 Tetera Faulkner
Replacements: 16 Anaru Rangi, 17 Fereti Sa’aga, 18 Sam Talakai, 19 Sam Jeffries, 20 Ross Haylett-Petty, 21 Michael Ruru, 22 Semisi Tupou, 23 Billy Meakes

Reds: 15 Aidan Toua, 14 Chris Feauai-Sautia, 13 Samu Kerevi, 12 Duncan Paia’aua, 11 Eto Nabuli, 10 Jono Lance, 9 James Tuttle, 8 Scott Higginbotham (c), 7 Adam Korczyk, 6 Caleb Timu, 5 Lukhan Tui, 4 Izack Rodda, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 1 James Slipper
Replacements: 16 Alex Mafi, 17 JP Smith, 18 Sef Fa’agase, 19 Kane Douglas, 20 Liam Wright, 21 Tate McDermott, 22 Hamish Stewart, 23 Filipo Daugunu

Date: Friday, February 23
Venue: AAMI Park
Kick-off: 19:40 local (08:45 GMT)
Referee: Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Nicholas Berry (Australia), Jordan Way (Australia)
Television match official: Ian Smith (Australia)

Super Rugby really kicks off this week

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This weekend we will see the Super Rugby really kicking into gear as the Australian and New Zealand conferences join the circus.

The first weekend saw the Stormers beating the Jaguares and the Lions was too good for the Sharks in Johannesburg.

This weekend starts in New Zealand and end with the Bulls that will be in their first outing against the Hurricanes in Pretoria.

On Friday we have two derbies starting in New Zealand with the Blue v Highlanders and straight after that the Aussies get their conference underway with the Rebels that will host the Reds.

Saturday is an early start to the day with the Sunwolves hosting the Brumbies followed by one of the matches of the weekend when the defending champions the Crusaders host the Chiefs.

The Stormers are in Australia this week after there first win over the Jaguares and will play the Waratahs on Saturday morning.

The last two games of the weekend is in the Republic with the Lions playing the Jaguares and the Bulls hosting the Hurricanes.

Although it is for most teams their first taste of Super Rugby for 2018 it will give us a better idea of where what teams will be at early on.

Currently only the Stormers and Lions are with wins but this will change after this weekend.

PosTeamPWLDBPPts
1110004
2110004
3101011
4000000
4000000

 

 

Du Toit in Stormers touring squad

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DHL Stormers Head Coach Robbie Fleck has named a 27-man squad for their upcoming three-match tour of Australasia.

After getting their 2018 Vodacom Super Rugby campaign off to a winning start with a 28-20 victory against the Jaguares at DHL Newlands on Saturday, the DHL Stormers fly to Sydney where they will face the Waratahs in the second round.

From Sydney the squad will then travel to New Zealand for encounters with the Highlanders and Crusaders, before heading back to Cape Town.

Although hooker Bongi Mbonambi will not be part of the squad due to a burst appendix, there is some good news on the injury front with lock Pieter-Steph du Toit cleared to tour after recovering from a back injury.

Mbonambi’s withdrawal means that hooker Dean Muir, who made his DHL Stormers debut off the replacements bench against the Jaguares, is included in the touring squad along with the likes of loose forward Sikhumbuzo Notshe and prop Caylib Oosthuizen, who did not feature in the opening game at DHL Newlands.

Fleck said that the squad is looking forward to the tour as they look to build on what they achieved in their opening game at DHL Newlands.

“We enjoy touring as a group and feel that there were plenty of positives in our performance against the Jaguares that we can build on in the coming weeks.

“The players have embraced the challenges that lie ahead of us and will be going all-out to raise our game further away from home,” he said.

DHL Stormers touring squad: Nizaam Carr, Damian de Allende, Jan de Klerk, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Dewaldt Duvenage, JJ Engelbrecht, JC Janse van Rensburg, Steven Kitshoff, Siya Kolisi (captain), Dillyn Leyds, Wilco Louw, SP Marais, Dean Muir, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Caylib Oosthuizen, Justin Phillips, Raymond Rhule, Carlu Sadie, Ramone Samuels, JD Schickerling, Seabelo Senatla, Kobus van Dyk, Chris van Zyl, EW Viljoen, George Whitehead, Cobus Wiese, Damian Willemse.

Lions forwards lay foundation for win over Sharks

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The Sharks made the Lions worked up and till the last second of the match for the win as they beat them on Saturday 26-19.

At the end it was the brilliant defence from the Lions that gave them the win with some brilliant tries that also came their way.

The Lions dominate the scrums which laid the platform for this win and the Sharks will have to work hard if they want to improve in this aspects

Lions looked pretty good at the start, but it was the Sharks that did most of the play putting pressure on the Lions.

The Sharks were playing with a bit of more confidence and it showed with them scoring a great try when they got into Lions twenty-two.

The man over was Robert Du Preez who ran over Jantjies to get his first try in a Sharks jumper. This gave the Sharks a 7-0 lead.

It was the power of the Lions pack that gave them a penalty and a change to setup the maul. With a strong run from Marx the ball came out to the backline and Mapoe straight through the gab and over for the Lions first try.

This made the scores level at 7 all after 18 min in the first half.

What happened next was just brilliant from Hacjivah Dayimani who got the ball from Whiteley with all to do, he showed of his speed and then kick a grabber to pick up and score the Lions second try.

This gave the Lions a 14-7 lead after 18 minutes.

The Sharks had one more opportunity at the end of the half but were again murdered in the scrum by the Lions and had to go into halftime behind 14-7.

The Sharks came out in the second half with some purpose and it took them not long to get Nkosi over in the corner for the first try of the second half.

This made the Lions lead only 14-12 after Du Preez missed the conversion.

The Lions never really lost the control of the game and where quickly restoring their lead with a third try through Mapoe.

This gave them a 21-12 lead with the Sharks having to do all to get back in the game. The Sharks responded well with a try of their own through Mapimpi and the lead was reduced to 21-19.

The Lions just stepped up a gear and got Kwagga Smith over for their forth try and extend the lead again to 26-19.

The Sharks gave it their all in the last 5 minutes with plenty of opportunities to get over for a score but brilliant defence from the Lions kept them out up and till the end.

The experience within the Lions side showed and they were deserved winners of the match.

Scorers: 

Lions

 

  • Tries – Kwagga Smith(59′) Lionel Mapoe(52′) Aphiwe Dyantyi(22′) Lionel Mapoe(17′)
  • Penalties – None
  • Cons – Elton Jantjies(53′) Elton Jantjies(24′) Elton Jantjies(18′)

Sharks

 

  • Tries – Makazole Mapimpi(55′) Sibusiso Nkosi(42′) Robert du Preez(8′)
  • Penalties – None
  • Cons – Robert du Preez(56′) Robert du Preez(9′)

 

MATCH STATS – TEAM STATS

Lions Lions  26  19 Sharks Sharks

Tries
4
43
3
Metres carried
342
342365
365
Carries
94
9479
79
Defenders beaten
30
3013
13
Clean breaks
5
56
6
Passes
102
10283
83
Offloads
6
610
10
Turnovers conceded
17
1713
13

 

Stormers work hard for win against Jaguares

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The Stormers had to work hard for their first win of the season when they beat the Jaguares 28-20 on Saturday at Newlands

The Stormers started of well putting pressure on the Jaguares and kept them in their twenty-two. Their set pieces looked solid and the backline looked full of running.

It was the Jaguares however that put the first points on the board after a mistake from the Stormers on attack. The Jaguares worked their way to the Stormers twenty and forced the penalty to take a 3-0 lead.

The game did not really get going but it was the Stormers with the ball in hand and they were eventually able to send De Allende over for the first try.

The Jaguares had some decent runs with ball in hand but Stormers defence kept them out and everytime the Jaguares got within striking range the Stormers manage to turn it over and start a counter attack.

Handling errors and support play was not great in the first twenty minutes for Stormers as they left a few tries on the park in that first forty minutes.

The Stormers gave away a few penalties with the Jaguares that were able to kick another three points to reduce the lead to 7-6.

With the penalties against the Jaguares adding up in their own half they were given a yellow card and Willemse kicked the penalty to get the lead to 10-6.

Not long after that the Stormers were playing with a bit more flair with one man down from the Jaguares and they got their second score through Kolisi who knock a few players down to go over.

This gave the Stormers a 15-6 lead.

There was a late surge from the Jaguares as they had a lineout five meters out just before halftime but the Stormers kept them out and got into the change room with a 15-6 lead.

Second half started well for Stormers as Rhule got his first try for the Stormers in the corner after they started running from their own twenty-two.

This gave them a 22-6 lead.

The Stormers on attack making another handling error gave the Jaguares the ball and some ordinary defence from them gave the Argentinians their first try of the match.

This reduced the lead for the Stormers to only 22-13.

The game again did not go anywhere with too many handling errors for both teams. With the Jaguares on attack the Stormers had to do it all in defence and eventually had to kick the ball out but Duvenage kicked a nothing kick which gave the Jaguares another opportunity to attack.

With this Sameuls went in with the hands and got a yellow card. The Jaguares kept with the scrums and eventually got a penalty try which makes the score 25-20 for the Stormers.

This gave the Jaguares the spark they needed, and they came at the Stormers again which gave them another penalty a few meters out.

The Stormers came with a brilliant scrum and won a penalty which gave them ball to get out of their twenty-two.

It was yet another negative play that ended the game with the Jaguares playing a player without the ball as the Stormers where on attack.

Willense kicked the penalty over to take the win 28-20.

Jaguares will need to get this negative play out of their game as it is spoiling the game we love. One starting to get a bad vibe and we do not need this in our game.

The Stormers eventually deserved the win but hard work left for them on their handling and defence.

Scorers:
  • Tries – Raymond Rhule(41′) Siya Kolisi(32′) Damian de Allende(19′)
  • Penalties – Damian Willemse(81′) Damian Willemse(57′) Damian Willemse(28′)
  • Cons – Damian Willemse(42′) Damian Willemse(20′)
Jaguares

 

  • Tries  – Emiliano Boffelli(46′)
  • Penalties – Emiliano Boffelli(22′) Nicolas Sanchez(5′)
  • Cons – Nicolas Sanchez(47′)

 

MATCH STATS – TEAM STATS

Stormers Stormers 28   20 Jaguares Jaguares

 

Preview SR – Emirates Lions v Cell C Sharks

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2017 Final will be one that the Lions, their fans and especially Kwagga will want to forget but they will still be the South African team to beat this year around.

With Ackermann leaving Swys De Bruin will step out of the shadow and show his worth as a coach this year.

He has certainly done the hard work and deserve a shot at Super Rugby level with some fans even saying he was the brain behind the Lions success since 2014.

It is a repeat of the quarter final of last year which many Sharks supporters still believe they were robbed by the referee so their will be no lost love found on the turf of Emirates Airline Park this weekend.

The Sharks have yet again shown one of the best sides on paper this year and even in the group they looked the strongest of all the SA teams.

This unfortunately counts for absolutely nothing as many will have experience this from the Sharks before.

Like most SA derbies this one will be battled out with the pack and the set pieces will determine the outcome of this match.

Both teams have some brilliant back that can ripped through defenses but one do feel that the game might be played with some conservative approach in the first outing of the year.

Both teams had a good pre-season and one of the battles we would surely be looking out for will be against the Springbok ten Elton Jantjies and Robert Du Preez in his first game for the Sharks.

In some way the two fly-halves play similar games when they on the front foot with both having a great boot to compliment their play.

The midfield will also be a battle of note and defence will play a huge part in the the team that comes out on top.

It wil be exciting to see Nkosi back after missing the later part of last season through injury. He is a talented youngster and he will be tested against the likes of Coetzee, Mahuza and Dyantyi.

Both benches have quality to it and a huge impact will be expected from both coaches.

The Lions have a great record against the Sharks of late with six straight wins. for Jantjies it will be a special day as he will run out for his 100th Super Rugby match.

 

Players to Watch:

Warren Whitley – Whiteley will be a player that plenty of eyes will be on this season as the not just Rassie Erasmus but also fans will want to see if he will be back to his best after suffering the injury last year. As captain we do not have much better currently in SA but he will have to prove his fitness.

Kagga Smith – Smith has been absolutely brilliant again for the Sevens side in the off season and we can expect him to press hard again this year to get into Erasmus Springbok squad.

Herald Vorster – Another one of the unlucky one’s in my view after one of his best season with the Lions last year. With some great midfield players currently in the country he will be putting up his hand as well for Springbok honors

Lwazi Nkosi – One of the stars of the future and he was so unlucky not to get his Springbok cap last year. He is one of the better wings in the country and needs to build on his brilliant season in 2017

Robert Du Preez – He and Pollard has always compete to be the best 10 at the age groups and his move to the Sharks will either make or break his career. Du Preez has been brilliant for the Stormers and Western Province and his dad will hope he can build on that form for the Sharks

Prediction: I am not going to popular but my thinking is a Sharks win by 10 points.

Teams:

LIONS

15 Andries Coetzee Andries Coetzee
14 Sylvian Mahuza Sylvian Mahuza
13 Lionel Mapoe Lionel Mapoe
12 Harold Vorster Harold Vorster
11 Aphiwe Dyantyi Aphiwe Dyantyi
10 Elton Jantjies Elton Jantjies
9 Ross Cronje Ross Cronje
8 Warren Whiteley Warren Whiteley
7 Cyle Brink Cyle Brink
6 Kwagga Smith Kwagga Smith
5 Franco Mostert Franco Mostert
4 Andries Ferreira Andries Ferreira
3 Ruan Dreyer Ruan Dreyer
2 Malcolm Marx Malcolm Marx
1 Jacques Van Rooyen Jacques Van Rooyen

SUBSTITUTES

16 Robbie Coetzee Robbie Coetzee
17 Dylan Smith Dylan Smith
18 Jacobie Adriaanse Jacobie Adriaanse
19 Marvin Orie Marvin Orie
20 Marnus Schoeman Marnus Schoeman
21 Hacjivah Dayimani Hacjivah Dayimani
22 Howard Mnisi Howard Mnisi
23 Rohan Janse van Rensburg Rohan Janse van Rensburg

SHARKS

15 Lwazi Mvovo Lwazi Mvovo
14 Sibusiso Nkosi Sibusiso Nkosi
13 Lukhanyo Am Lukhanyo Am
12 Andre Esterhuizen Andre Esterhuizen
11 Makazole Mapimpi Makazole Mapimpi
10 Robert du Preez Robert du Preez
9 Cameron Wright Cameron Wright
8 Keegan Daniel Keegan Daniel
7 Jacques Vermeulen Jacques Vermeulen
6 Phillip Van Der Walt Phillip Van Der Walt
5 Stephan Lewies Stephan Lewies
4 Ruan Botha Ruan Botha
3 Thomas du Toit Thomas du Toit
2 Franco Marais Franco Marais
1 Juan Schoeman Juan Schoeman

SUBSTITUTES

16 Armand van der Merwe Armand van der Merwe
17 John-Hubert Meyer John-Hubert Meyer
18 Tendai Mtawarira Tendai Mtawarira
19 Hyron Andrews Hyron Andrews
20 Daniel du Preez Daniel du Preez
21 Michael Claassens Michael Claassens
22 Curwin Bosch Curwin Bosch
23 Jacobus Van Wyk Jacobus Van Wyk

Willemse at 10 for Stormers

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Four players are set to make their DHL Stormers debut in the Vodacom Super Rugby season-opener against the Jaguares at DHL Newlands on Saturday.

The 2018 Vodacom Super Rugby season will get kick off at 15h05 on Saturday, when the DHL Stormers take on the Jaguares at DHL Newlands.

Raymond Rhule, Carlu Sadie, George Whitehead and JJ Engelbrecht are all set to make their first appearance for the DHL Stormers, with Rhule starting on the left wing and prop Sadie, flyhalf Whitehead and utility back Engelbrecht among the replacements.

Rhule forms part of a dynamic back three with Seabelo Senatla and Dillyn Leyds, while Damian de Allende and EW Viljoen link up in midfield outside the halfback pairing of Dewaldt Duvenage and Damian Willemse.

Captain Siya Kolisi is joined by Nizaam Carr and Cobus Wiese in the loose trio, with lock pairing JD Schickerling and Chris van Zyl starting behind an all-Springbok front row of Wilco Louw, Bongi Mbonambi and Steven Kitshoff.

DHL Stormers Head Coach Robbie Fleck said that his team is looking forward to getting the new season started at DHL Newlands.

“The squad has put in a lot of hard work in preparation for this game, so hopefully we will see that pay off on Saturday.

“It is always great to start the season in front of our loyal fans at DHL Newlands, so it should be another special occasion,” he said.

Tickets for the season-opener are available from online.computicket.com or any Computicket outlet and remain the same price as 2017.

2018 DHL Newlands season ticket-holders are urged to collect their new cards before Saturday from the WP Rugby offices in Bounday rd, Newlands.

DHL Stormers: 15 Dillyn Leyds, 14 Seabelo Senatla, 13 EW Viljoen, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Cobus Wiese, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 JD Schickerling, 4 Chris van Zyl, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Ramone Samuels, 17 JC Janse van Rensburg, 18 Carlu Sadie, 19 Jan de Klerk, 20 Kobus van Dyk, 21 Justin Phillips, 22 George Whitehead, 23 JJ Engelbrecht.

Whiteley back to lead Lions against Sharks

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Swys de Bruin has named his team to face the Cell C Sharks in Saturdays first match in this years Super Rugby competition.

Jacques van Rooyen will run out will run out in his 50th Vodacom Super Rugby game.

Van Rooyen was invited to train with the Lions in 2012 after catching the eye while in action for a club team in Pretoria and has since cemented his place in the squad, even captaining the side during the Currie Cup in 2017.

The Emirates Lions welcomed back their Blitzbok Kwagga Smith who will don the number six jumper in the absence of the injured Jaco Kriel.

Youngster Aphiwe Dyantyi gets his first taste of Super Rugby at wing, filling the big shoes of injured wing Courtnall Skosan while Sylvian Mahuza steps up to the plate at right wing.

Another youngster, Hacjivah Dayimani, has been included on the bench and loan player Marnus Schoeman (Pumas) will also warm the bench. Should they take the field, both will make their Super Rugby debut for the Emirates Lions.

The side will be led by the experienced Warren Whiteley.

You can follow the Lions throughout the Super Rugby on social media….

@lionsrugbyco (Facebook)

@lionsrugbyco (Twitter)

@lionrugbyunion (Instagram)

Emirates Lions side:

Jacques Van Rooyen, Malcolm Marx, Ruan Dreyer, Andries Ferreira, Franco Mostert, Kwagga Smith, Cyle Brink, Warren Whiteley (C), Ross Cronje, Elton Jantjies, Aphiwe Dyantyi, Herold Vosrter, Lionel Mapoe, Sylvian Mahuza, Andries Coetzee

Replacements:

Robbie Coetzee, Dyon Smith, Jacobus Adriaanse, Marvin Orie, Marnus Schoeman, Hacjivah Dayumani, Howard Mnisi, Rohan Janse van Rensburg

Vodacom Super Rugby 2018

Ruggaworld SuperBru

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Hi guys, better late than never I say……. laugh

Ruggaworld is having a SuperBru Pool again for Super Rugby and you can join us and see how good you are.

I am normally pretty useless but it is great fun and we are busy arranging some spot prices and a great price for the all out winner at the end of the season.

So register and come play alone

Just click here:

https://www.superbru.com/superrugby/pool.php?p=11776700

Pool name: Ruggaworld@SuperRugby

Pool code: goadhood

Du Preez starts for Sharks

5

The Cell C Sharks has named their first side for this years Super Rugby tournament for this weekend clash with the Emirates Lions.

Robert du Preez in his first season with the Sharks after moving from Western Province last year will start the match at the pivot number ten jumper.

He will be partner with Cameron White at nine and on his outside he has experience Esterhuizen and Am in the midfield.

The excitement in the Sharks backline does not stop there as they have Mapimpi and Nkosi on the wing.

Mvovo will take his place at fullback which makes an exciting backline first up for the Sharks.

Coach Robert Du Preez is happy with his team and that they can start the season.

“This squad has worked extremely hard in the pre-season and what’s especially pleasing to see is the vibe and excitement in the group.

Every player was given an opportunity during the warm-up games and so many of them put their hands up, which made it extremely difficult to decide on our matchday 23.  Naturally, the guys who have been left out will feel desperately disappointed as they have all put in the hard yards.

I stressed the fact that this campaign is going to be a squad effort and every guy will be called upon, at different stages, to contribute to the team’s goals.

“This is an important game and a great start will set the tone for our campaign.  We are excited to go out there and play.”

Akker van der Merwe who has moved from the Lions to the Sharks last year with Du Preez and Mapimpi will earn their first caps for the Sharks on Saturday.

The talented Curwin Bosch will start from the bench as well as Daniel du Preez

  1. Lwazi Mvovo
    14. Sbu Nkosi
    13. Lukhanyo Am
    12. Andre Esterhuizen
    11. Makazole Mapimpi
    10. Robert du Preez
    9. Cameron Wright
    8. Keegan Daniel
    7. Jacques Vermeulen
    6. Philip van der Walt
    5. Stephan Lewies
    4. Ruan Botha (c)
    3. Thomas du Toit
    2. Franco Marais
    1. Juan SchoemanReplacements
    16. Akker van der Merwe
    17. John-Hubert Meyer
    18. Beast Mtawarira
    19. Hyron Andrews
    20. Daniel du Preez
    21. Michael Claassens
    22. Curwin Bosch
    23. Kobus van Wyk

The Match can be followed live on Saturday

 

Sunwolves sign Jason Emery

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The Sunwolves have bolstered their midfield stocks with the acquisition of centre Jason Emery from the Highlanders for the 2018 Super Rugby season.

Emery has featured 35 times for the Highlanders in Super Rugby and has two caps for the Maori All Blacks.

Meanwhile, the Sunwolves also confirmed the signing of Ryuchi Noguchi from Tokai University and Atsushi Sakate from the Panasonic Wild Knights, both of whom made their Japan bows in April 2016 against Korea in Kanagawa.

The Sunwolves begin their Super Rugby campaign with a home clash against the Brumbies on February 24.

Super Rugby 2018 Kicks-off

0

This weekend will see three of the South African teams starting the revamp Super Rugby Competition which will see 15 teams compete across conferences.

There will be three conferences, South African, Austrlian and New Zealand conferences.

The South African conference will include the Sharks, Bulls Stormers, Lions and Jaguares. The Australian conference will include the Reds, Brumbies, Waratahs, Rebels and Sunwolves.

The New Zealand conference consist of the Chiefs, Hurricanes, Highlanders, Blues and Crusaders.

This weekend we will only see two matches as the Sharks will take on the Lions and the Stormers will host the Jaguares.

Both matches are on Saturday afternoon with the Stormers and Jaguares kicking the 2018 season off for us.

The Lions v Sharks match will follow straight afterwards.

Next week sees the Australians and New Zealanders joining the party which should be a very competitive Super Rugby this year.

Weekend Schedule:

15:00 – 17:05 SS1 Vodacom Super Rugby Round 1: DHL Stormers vs Jaguares
17:05 – 19:30 SS1 Vodacom Super Rugby Round 1: Emirates Lions vs Cell C Sharks

Bulls beat Jaguares at Loftus

0

The Bulls scored two first-half tries as they beat the Jaguares 21-12 in a pre-season match at the Loftus B-field on Saturday.

The hosts split their squad into two groups, with many of their youngsters starting in the first half and Lood de Jager leading the side.

In a tight match, it was the Bulls who took the lead when fullback Andell Loubser collected a kick-pass from flyhalf Manie Libbock to score a self-converted try.

With half-time approaching, Bulls flank Marco van Staden barged his way over the line from close range.

Bulls coach John Mitchell replaced the entire team at half-time, with many Springboks and senior players coming on.

The changes made an immediate impact as Jesse Kriel broke from midfield and set up fullback Warrick Gelant to score the Bulls’ third.

The Jaguares then hit back with late tries from Julian Montoya and Javier Ortega Desio.

Bulls – Tries: Andell Loubser, Marco van Staden, Warrick Gelant. Conversions: Manie Libbock (3).
Jaguares – Tries: Julain Montoya, Javier Ortega Desion. Conversion: Juan Martin Hernandez.

Kolisi lead Stormers again in 2018

5

DHL Stormers Head Coach Robbie Fleck has named a 47-man squad for the upcoming 2018 Vodacom Super Rugby season.

Experienced loose forward Siya Kolisi, who currently has 89 caps for the DHL Stormers, continues in the leadership role he took up last year, with lock Eben Etzebeth his vice-captain.

The DHL Stormers get their 2018 Vodacom Super rugby campaign underway when they host the Jaguares at DHL Newlands on Saturday, February 17.

Of the 47-man squad, there are nine players who will not be available to face the Jaguares in the opening game due to injury.

Etzebeth (shoulder), is joined on the injured list by SP Marais (toe), Scarra Ntubeni (hamstring), Ali Vermaak (hamstring), Jano Vermaak (knee), Jean-Luc du Plessis (groin), Dan du Plessis (shoulder), Frans Malherbe (neck) and Juarno Augustus (back).

Craig Barry (Toyota Cheetahs) and Neethling Fouche (Maties) are currently with other teams but are available to the DHL Stormers this season.

Fleck said that despite the injuries, the players are excited to get the season underway, having worked hard in the pre-season.

“It has been a good pre-season, which has seen us implement a number of new ideas, so the players are keen to make all the hard work count out on the pitch.

“We are all looking forward to our opening game against the Jaguares, which gives us a chance to play in front of our loyal fans at DHL Newlands before we go on tour,” he said.

Tickets for the game against the Jaguares will go on sale from 12h00 on Monday from wprugby.computicket.com or any Computicket outlet.

DHL Stormers squad: Juarno Augustus, Craig Barry, Nizaam Carr, Jaco Coetzee, Damian de Allende, Jan de Klerk, Paul de Wet, Stephan de Wit, Dan du Plessis, Jean-Luc du Plessis, Johan du Toit, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Dewaldt Duvenage, JJ Engelbrecht, Eben Etzebeth, Neethling Fouche, JC Janse van Rensberg, Steven Kitshoff, Siya Kolisi (captain), Dan Kriel, Dillyn Leyds, Wilco Louw, Frans Malherbe, SP Marais, Bongi Mbonambi, Salmaan Moerat, Dean Muir, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Scarra Ntubeni, Caylib Oosthuizen, Sergeal Petersen, Justin Phillips, Raymond Rhule, Carlu Sadie, Ramone Samuels, JD Schickerling, Seabelo Senatla, Joshua Stander, Kobus van Dyk, Chris van Zyl, Alistair Vermaak, Jano Vermaak, EW Viljoen, George Whitehead, Cobus Wiese, Damian Willemse, Eddie Zandberg

Schreuder out for six weeks

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The injuries in pre-season are always the worst and the Sharks have been dealt a blow after Springbok scrum-half Louis Schreuder was ruled out for the first month of Super Rugby due to injury.

Schreuder suffered a hamstring injury in the Durban-based franchise’s 31-14 win over the Bulls in a pre-season fixture in Polokwane during January and according to a Sharks medical report, the 27-year-old’s return is estimated at between four and six weeks.

Meanwhile, Jeremy Ward, who was selected to play in both warm-up matches – against the Bulls and then Racing 92 this past weekend in Hong Kong – sadly suffered a hand fracture which required surgery. The centre will be out for around eight weeks.

Of the Sharks’ other injured players, Springbok prop Coenie Oosthuizen will not be available for the Super Rugby season. He returned home from the Boks’ end-of-year tour in November last year after suffering a knee injury against Ireland.

The ACL rupture is responding well to treatment and his rehabilitation is going very well. He is expected to be out for nine months.

Oosthuizen is the only severe, long term injury that the Sharks are treating, although there are a number of players who have had minor surgeries and other injuries that will keep them out of action for a few more weeks.

Bok loose forward Jean-Luc du Preez underwent ankle surgery in November and is on track for a return to action in March.

thanks to

For everyone who wasn’t in Wellington

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For everyone who wasn’t in Wellington on Saturday, here’s the whole pre-season scrimmage between the Stormers and Bulls which ended in a 26-26 draw.

Thank to

Super Rugby referees fo r2018

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So for those who are interested SANZAAR has announced the referee team that will officiate the 2018 Super Rugby season. With the Super Rugby tournament format reducing to 120 regular season matches this season the referee team has been reduced from 19 to 17 referees.

The team contains a balance of seasoned international referees, several referees who now have a couple of years of Super Rugby behind them and one newcomer, with AJ Jacobs from South Africa making his Super Rugby debut this season.

“Along with a new Super Rugby format we will have a refocussed referee team that has been through an extensive training camp over the summer in preparation for the 2018 season”, said SANZAAR CEO Andy Marinos.

“I have challenged the team to further raise the quality of performance and play a role, within the confines of the laws, in ensuring that our matches are exciting and entertaining from start to finish,” added Marinos.

“The team is a well balanced mix of referees with Test and Super Rugby experience and several emerging referees who now have one or two seasons under their belt. The experience in the team comes from Jaco Peyper and Glen Jackson, who have refereed 82 and 65 matches respectively, while we also have a group around the 40-50 mark including Angus Gardner, Nick Briant and Mike Fraser,” said SANZAAR Game Manager, Lyndon Bray.

“At the conclusion of the 2017 season SANZAAR conducted a survey of the Super Rugby team coaches and the feedback helped determine the focus for our annual referee camp which is always held prior to the start of each season.”

“The primary focus of the camp in Cape Town, South Africa was how our referee team ‘connects to the game’ and ‘builds strong working relationships’. The overall objective being to ensure the referees continue to build on their progress as Super Rugby and Test referees.”

“It was fantastic that 10 of our Super Rugby referees were able to experience Test rugby in Europe during November, and that Glen Jackson, Jaco Peyper, Ben O’Keeffe and Angus Gardner are scheduled to handle 6 Nations games early in 2018,” added Bray.

2018 Super Rugby Referee Team

 Referee  Country  Super Rugby Matches
 Federico Anselmi  Argentina  8
 Nic Berry  Australia  10
 Nick Briant  New Zealand  41
 Mike Fraser  New Zealand  40
 Angus Gardner  Australia  47
 Will Houston  Australia  9
 AJ Jacobs  South Africa  0
 Glen Jackson  New Zealand  65
 Shuhei Kubo  Japan  8
 Jamie Nutbrown  New Zealand  8
 Ben O’Keeffe  New Zealand  24
 Jaco Peyper  South Africa  82
 Brendon Pickerill  New Zealand  12
 Rasta Rasivhenge  South Africa  8
 Egon Seconds  South Africa  4
 Marius van der Westhuizen  South Africa  28
 Paul Williams  New Zealand  11

 

Bulls Boks will play in weekend match against Jaguares

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Bulls coach John Mitchell will have the luxury to pick his strongest possible team for Saturdays pre-season match against the Jaguares.

He will welcome back his Springboks as only De Jager future in the warm ups so far this year.

This means the likes of Pollard, Kriel, Gelant and Nyakane will all play apart in the last warm-up match before the season kicks off later this month.

‘We are three weeks away from competition, and we have a week up our sleeves, so we will need to start introducing our Japanese, Test and injury returnees,’ Mitchell said. ‘By the time we get to competition, we must make sure that all our players have at least 120 minutes of rugby under their belts.’

 

Louw big blow for Stormers

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Stormers coach Robbie Fleck has bemoaned the injury to tighthead prop Wilco Louw as a blow to their already-depleted front row stocks.

Louw came off in the first five minutes of the Stormers’ 26-26 warm-up match with the Bulls on Saturday and Fleck believes it is likely to be a hip flexor injury.

“We’ve just seen him walk out now and look, it is not good news. We think it is a hip flexer,” said Fleck.

“I’d be guessing if I said what the extent of the injury is, but hip flexers are never good news and whether it is a grade 1 or a grade 2, the grade 1 injury normally requires a minimum of four weeks out.

“It’s a soft tissue injury and those can take a while to heal. But let’s just wait until he has seen a specialist, at the moment it doesn’t look good for him when it comes to being ready for our first game.”

That first game is in a fortnight from now against the Jaguares at Newlands. Fleck will be keeping a close eye on the Louw situation as he already has to make do without Frans Malherbe, the other Bok tighthead prop in the Stormers’ ranks, who is sidelined until May as he continues his recovery from a long-term injury sustained in the series against France last year.

The Cape side’s other tighthead Michael Kumbirai is sidelined with a back injury which meant Sadie, the only remaining tighthead in the squad, played 70 minutes as Louw’s replacement on Saturday and did a solid job.

“I think if Wilco has a serious injury we will have to look beyond our region for reinforcements,” said the coach.

“We’ve got a very young tightead in Carlu (Sadie), who I thought was very good playing his first game at Super Rugby intensity.

“We were only planning on giving him 20 minutes today and he ended up playing 70-odd minutes, so we were very happy with him.

“We’ve got Neethling Fouche who’s playing for Maties (Stellenbosch University) in the Varsity Cup, but we’re going to have to look.”

Plumtree set to take over Hurricanes

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Hurricanes assistant coach John Plumtree is set to succeed Northampton-bound Chris Boyd as the Wellington-based franchise’s head coach.

Plumtree confirmed on Monday that he is negotiating with the Hurricanes to take over the reins from Boyd, who will become the Saints’ director of rugby from August this year.

Plumtree, who previously guided the Durban-based Sharks to a Super Rugby final which they lost to the Chiefs in 2012, said he had no plans to coach anywhere but Wellington.

Like Boyd, Plumtree is off contract at the end of this season. He extended his contract with the Hurricanes in 2016, after the Highlanders tried to lure him to coach them in Dunedin.

At the time it was assumed that Plumtree opted to stay with the Hurricanes because he was promised the head coaching role once Boyd’s contract expired.

“I don’t think I’d be cheeky enough to put that [clause] in my contract,” Plumtree told Stuff on Monday.

Plumtree was linked to an assistant coach’s role with the All Blacks in 2017. Boyd dismissed the reports at the time, saying he and Plumtree had a succession plan in place at the Hurricanes and nothing had changed.

“Maybe in Boydy’s and my world, but there’s other decision makers around all of that,” said Plumtree.

“If it happens, it happens. There would be a lot of continuity if it happened, but at the same time you can’t take anything for granted in the rugby business.

“We’ll just see what happens this week. I’m happy doing whatever as long as I’m coaching here.”

Although Plumtree said he would be happy with any role at the Hurricanes, he and chief executive Avan Lee have been in talks for some time.

Their negotiations have been conducted in greater earnest since Boyd’s decision to take over at Northampton was confirmed on January 26.

The Hurricanes are now keen to sort out Plumtree’s new contract so that the team can focus solely on the upcoming Super Rugby season.

Plumtree confirmed that announcement on his future would be made “pretty soon.”

“Hopefully before [the season starts],” he said.

“But I don’t know, I’ve been cutting defence clips today. I don’t know anything about that.”

Plumtree said he’d be “honoured” if he is appointed as the Hurricanes’ new head coach.

“It’s a great club,” he added.

“I love it here. The Hurricanes have been in my blood a long time, even when I was coaching the Sharks.

“I’m a Taranaki boy so, if it happens, then great. But like I said to you, my job’s to support Boydy and I’ll keep doing that until he finishes.”

Stomers and Bulls play to a draw

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There was no separating the DHL Stormers and the Vodacom Bulls in an entertaining pre-season encounter in Wellington, which ended in a 26-26 deadlock.

Both teams scored four tries and kicked three conversions in front of an enthusiastic crowd at the Boland Stadium on Saturday.

The teams got stuck right into each other from the word go, with some big hits on both sides in a bruising opening 10 minutes.

The Vodacom Bulls struck first with a try from flank Roelof Smit, who broke off a maul to score, following some resolute defence from the DHL Stormers.

The DHL Stormers got into their work and made some forays into opposition territory in search of a response.

They would go level as some slick hands from Damian de Allende and Chris van Zyl saw EW Viljoen race over for a try, which was converted from out wide by Damian Willemse.

The teams looked set to go into the break deadlocked at 7-7, but the Vodacom Bulls grabbed the lead back on the stroke of half-time with a try from scrumhalf Andre Warner.

The DHL Stormers were back on level terms early in the second half, with Cobus Wiese crashing over from an attacking line-out to make it 14-14.

The Vodacom Bulls responded soon afterwards when they were awarded a try in the corner, which gave them a 19-14 advantage.

However, the DHL Stormers would hit the front for the first time in the game with a try from Craig Barry which saw the forwards do plenty of hard work hammering away at the Vodacom Bulls’ tryline before it was sent wide to the finisher.

The DHL Stormers had their tails up and continued to pile the pressure on the Vodacom Bulls defence. It was not long before they had a fourth try with replacement George Whitehead putting in a pinpoint cross-kick for flank Johan du Toit, who scored in the corner.

However, the Vodacom Bulls were back on level terms with a try from scrumhalf Embrose Papier, which left the teams deadlocked at 26-26 on the final whistle.

The scorers:

For DHL Stormers:
Tries: Viljoen, Wiese, Barry, Du Toit
Cons: Willemse 2, Whitehead

For Vodacom Bulls:
Tries: Smit, Warner, Strauss, Papier
Cons: Boshoff 2, Libbok

Sharks beat Racing 92 in pre-season match

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In an entertaining Natixis Cup challenge match in Hong Kong on Saturday, the Cell C Sharks saw off Racing 92 with a fairly emphatic 31-14 victory in our final pre-season hit-out before the start of Vodacom Super Rugby.

With Racing midway through their season and the Cell C Sharks still preparing for the start of ours, there would always be the fear that we would look rusty against one of the best internationally represented club sides in the world. However, given the meaning that each side – and indeed the players – attached to this game, the result was never really the ultimate aim.

Instead, for Racing it was playing an exhibition match and avoiding injuries ahead of the remainder of their competitive commitments over the next few months, while the Cell C Sharks were looking to get their game going ahead of Vodacom Super Rugby.

To say the Cell C Sharks looked hungrier was probably testament to the fight for positions that is driving competition in the team. The players are excited to be back on the park and they want to play, they want a starting jersey.

The Cell C Sharks looked fresh and focused and took a commanding 12-nil lead at half-time having dictated the pace and direction of the game. Keeping the French team scoreless in the first half would have been one aim accomplished and scoring two of our own another box ticked.

Makazola Mapimpi scored the first try with centre Marius Louw adding the second with his try converted by Robert du Preez.

Three minutes into the second half, Louw went in for his second, a truly beautiful piece of attacking rugby. We had forced a scrum by pressuring Racing just outside their 22, the ball was sent wide and Louw and his centre partner Lukhanyo Am combined perfectly out wide for the score, converted by du Preez.

Racing finally managed to score when they hammered away at our tryline from close quarters as the game approached the final half hour and after initially not awarding it, the referee did and the conversion took the game to 19-7.

A slew of changes had been made but the next play, moments later could have resulting in a try with action shifting from our 22 to the edge of Racing’s tryline.  Another good attacking movement was held up, but it showed that the pace we were playing was catching out the French cosmopolitan side.

Young Robert du Preez, the star of the 2017 Currie Cup final, now back at The Sharks played an impressive role, mixing things up and keeping the opposition under huge pressure. He has an educated, accurate boot and will add huge value this season.

The pressure continued, Racing conceded two penalties close to their line, received a warning and then another setback on the scoreboard as the hugely impressive Cameron Wright dived over for the fourth try, with Curwin Bosch, on for du Preez, pushing the conversion narrowly wide.

At 24-7 with 20 minutes to go, the result looked to be well and truly sewn up, although, to their credit, Racing pushed hard for a second score. Although they had numerous penalty opportunities, they were up against some resolute defence and failed to add to their lone try.

With the game losing some shape later in the game, Racing looked to capitalise on turnover ball. They had to work hard and take advantage of numerous penalties before finally scoring with two minutes remaining with their strong scrum setting the platform for the score.

The Cell C Sharks had the final say as Racing took the game past fulltime, looking to score but turning over ball and Curwin Bosch finishing off a movement that started in his side’s 22. He converted his try from out wide to close out a worthwhile excursion to Hong Kong.

While it’s important to reiterate the earlier statement that the outcome of the match holds little significance in the grand scheme of the season ahead, the result reflects the mindset and gauge of where the team want to be, which bodes well for the competition.

***Watch the full game on on the Sharks Facebook Page  ***

Emirates Lions sign new sponsor

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World Sports Betting, SA’s Leading Online Sportsbook have announced the signing of Lions Rugby Company as their official sports betting partner for the next 3 years.

This sponsorship will be for all international and local tournaments and comes shortly after their 2017 acquisition of the Headline Sponsor of the now World Sports Betting Cape Cobras.

Speaking about the newest sponsorship, Ryno du Plessis, National Marketing Manager of World Sports Betting pointed out the brand’s complete passion to support local teams and South African sport as a whole.

“World Sports Betting, a renowned and house-hold brand throughout South Africa, offers national and global betting in all sporting events,” said Du Plessis.

When looking for a partner on the Rugby stage, we looked no further than the Lions. Their commendable performance in recent years have made them a perfect match for our brand”.

Du Plessis also expressed his and his team’s dedication to inject more excitement into the Lions supporters in-stadium and promises some amazing promotions and activations over the next three years.

Warren Tannous, finding CEO of World Sports Betting and more so a passionate supporter of Lions Rugby called the sponsorship a “highlight” to the company’s year and future.

“Growing up in a family who supported the franchise for as long as I can recall, made the decision to partner with the Lions was done without hesitation. In fact it is something I have been looking to do for several years. Today, rugby is a big part of our business and product offering. We offer hundreds of Live In-Play and Pre-match markets on all local and International rugby and for me, seeing our brand associated with a world-wide franchise such as the Lions is an absolute honour,” he commented.

Edgar Rathbone, Managing Director of EPS (Pty) Ltd, welcomed World Sports Betting on board as the latest sponsor to the Lions Rugby Company, to be sported on the back of the Vodacom Super Rugby shorts.

“We are proud to be associated with World Sports Betting, a brand that has gone from strength to strength in the past few years. We know it will be a long and prosperous relationship”

World Sports Betting is also a major sponsor of South African Cricket, Boxing, Mixed Martial Arts and Horse Racing and supporters over 18 are invited to find out more about them by visiting www.wsb.co.za or by following them on Social Media

Vodacom Red Rewards are back this Vodacom Super Rugby season

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Another thrilling season of Vodacom Super Rugby is about to kick off, and 2018 promises to be filled with big hits and even bigger rewards exclusive to Vodacom Red customers.

From the first up-and-under to the final conversion, Vodacom Red is going all out to make this the most rewarding rugby season ever.

Throughout the season, Vodacom Red customers will score with weekly rewards and stand the chance to win one of several unbelievable rugby and lifestyle experiences that they will share with their favourite rugby heroes.

Every weekend there will be exclusive match or suite tickets up for grabs, but also opportunities to be a part of the on-field action like never before.

Vodacom Red customers could be part of the Man-of-the-Match handover ceremony or even make their child’s dream come true as they earn the right to be the official mascot for a match, leading their favourite players onto the field.

The real reward this Vodacom Super Rugby season is the chance for Vodacom Red customers to win one of the ultimate Red Rewards that they can share with their favourite players. Every one of these rewards are exclusive money-can’t-buy experiences that will make for the greatest rugby memories.

There is a VIP tour to the Vodacom Super Rugby Final on offer, whether it’s in South Africa, New Zealand or Australia.

There are opportunities to bond with their rugby-loving sons at a Father and Son Sleepout on the field at Loftus Versfeld with the Vodacom Bulls players, or to bring the whole family and meet the Vodacom Bulls players and families and a host of celebrities at the Vodacom Bulls Family Day.

It’s going to be a season of experiences that will see lucky Vodacom Red customers mix with the fast and famous in supercars, get hooked with a top rugby player in a 5-star tiger fishing experience, play golf with a professional at South Africa’s iconic golf courses, or test their rugby knowledge in a quiz with South African rugby’s great captains.

And the 2018 season of Vodacom Super Rugby will support those who need it most.

This season, Vodacom will reward every try scored by a South African team with a donation of R3 000 towards the Smile Foundation as they work together to help put the smile back on children’s faces through corrective facial reconstructive surgery.

It’s time to expect more with Vodacom Red. And it’s time to get more from the most rewarding season in Vodacom Super Rugby history.

For more information on the Vodacom Red Rewards, visit www.vodacom.co.za/redrewards

Snyman, Smit to start for Vodacom Bulls

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Springboks RG Snyman and Roelof Smit will both start for the Vodacom Bulls on Saturday in Wellington when they face the DHL Stormers in a Vodacom Super Rugby friendly.

Snyman has returned from his club duties in Japan recently and Smit, who proved his fitness off the bench last weekend against the Cell C Sharks in Polokwane after an injury lay-off, will both be keen to make an early statement to Vodacom Bulls coach, John Mitchell.

The duo represented the Springboks against the British Barbarians in 2016 in a match played in London and both could play significant roles in the Vodacom Bulls pack as Mitchell moulds his squad for the forthcoming Super Rugby tournament.

The coach made a number of rotational changes to the side that played the Cell C Sharks in Polokwane last weekend, with the halfback pairing of Andre Warner and Marnitz Boshoff starting and Embrose Papier and Manie Libbok reverting to the bench.

Only Divan Rossouw (fullback), the midfield pairing of Burger Odendaal and Johnny Kotze, Hanro Liebenberg (loose forward) and lock Ruben van Heerden has been retained from the starting team, with a host of players who came off the bench in Polokwane now getting a run-on opportunity in the Wellington clash.

“A number of players who did not start last weekend get a change to do so this week and will get some valuable game time under the belt,” Mitchell explained.

“We are still building towards the start of the competition and our performance will be work in progress towards that. We know we are playing against a very capable side, but that is the whole purpose of matches like these. There is nothing on offer, but so much to learn for both sides.”

Kick-off in Wellington is at 16h00.

The squad is: Divan Rossouw, Andell Loubser, Johnny Kotze, Burger Odendaal (c), Duncan Matthews, Marnitz Boshoff, Andre Warner, Jano Venter, Hanro Liebenberg (v/c), Roelof Smit, RG Snyman, Ruben van Heerden, Conraad van Vuuren, Jaco Visagie, Pierre Schoeman. Replacements: Adriaan Strauss, Lizo Gqoboka, Frans van Wyk, Lood de Jager, Marco van Staden, Thembelani Bholi, Embrose Papier, Manie Libbok, JT Jackson, Dries Swanepoel, Jade Stighling, Franco Naude.

Stormers ready for pre-season match against Bulls

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Both the DHL Stormers and a DHL Western Province Invitational team will be in action in a pre-season double-header at Boland Park in Wellington on Saturday.

The DHL Stormers squad will take on the Vodacom Bulls at 16h00 in their final warm-up match before their Vodacom Super Rugby campaign kicks off, against the Jaguares at DHL Newlands on February 17.

DHL Western Province Invitational will face Boland Elite, in a curtain-raiser at 13h50, with the action getting underway with an early local club match at Boland Stadium.

The likes of Steven Kitshoff, Bongi Mbonambi, Wilco Louw, Jan de Klerk, Dewaldt Duvenage, Justin Phillips, Damian Willemse, EW Viljoen, and Dillyn Leyds have been included in the 28-man DHL Stormers squad, after missing the previous pre-season clash with SWD Eagles in George.

The DHL Western Province Invitational match against Boland Elite will allow the DHL Stormers management to get a good look at the depth available to them, with two players – Salmaan Moerat and Josh Stander – set for gametime in both matches in Wellington on Saturday.

Players that were not available for selection due to injury include Ali Vermaak (hamstring), Scarra Ntubeni (hamstring), Frans Malherbe (neck), Eben Etzebeth (shoulder), Pieter-Steph du Toit (back), Siya Kolisi (hamstring), Juarno Augustus (neck), Jano Vermaak (knee), Jean-Luc du Plessis (hip), Dan du Plessis (shoulder) and SP Marais (toe).

Seabelo Senatla and Sikhumbuzo Notshe are away on Springbok Sevens duty and Nizaam Carr is being rested having recently returned from a loan spell with London Wasps.

DHL Stormers Head Coach Robbie Fleck said that the players are looking forward to testing themselves against the Vodacom Bulls before the campaign gets underway.

“The players have worked very hard in the pre-season, so this match will give us a good chance to get some competitive game-time under our belts.

“We want to ensure that our players are up to speed, so that we can be at our best at the start of what will be another demanding season,” he said.

Tickets are available from Webtickets at R100 for adults and R75 for scholars and will also be available at the gate at R120 for adults and R80 for scholars.

DHL Stormers squad:

Forwards: Jaco Coetzee, Jan de Klerk, Stephan de Wit, Johan du Toit, JC Janse van Rensberg, Steven Kitshoff, Wilco Louw, Bongi Mbonambi, Salmaan Moerat, Carlu Sadie, Ramone Samuels, JD Schickerling, Chris van Zyl, Kobus van Dyk, Cobus Wiese.

Backs: Craig Barry, Damian de Allende, Dewaldt Duvenage, Dan Kriel, Eduan Keyter, Dillyn Leyds, Justin Phillips, Sergeal Petersen, Raymond Rhule, Josh Stander, EW Viljoen, George Whitehead, Damian Willemse.

Higginbotham to lead Reds

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Queensland Super Rugby team the Reds have announced that Scott Higginbotham will captain the Queensland Reds for the 2018 Super Rugby season

The 31-year-old will be the 117th captain to lead Queensland in its 136 years of representative Rugby.

Higginbotham is one of the most experienced members of the current squad, having played 123 Super Rugby games and 34 Tests for Australia. He is also the most prolific try-scoring forward in Super Rugby history.

Higginbotham said he was honoured to take on the role.

“I’m very honoured to captain the Reds. Being appointed to this position by someone such as Brad means a great deal to me,” Higginbotham said.

“It’s great to lead such a young, exciting and positive bunch of blokes. I’ve had the privilege of being captain of another Super Rugby team, and that experience will help me now.

“I’m also privileged to have the support of other strong leaders in the team, like Samu (Kerevi) and James (Slipper) who have done the role previously. That is only going to strengthen our side.”

Thorn said Higginbotham was a player who would galvanise the group through his actions.

“Scott is a player who leads by example. He’s a humble guy who works hard and strives to get the best out of himself and everyone around him,” Thorn said.

“He has experienced success at the Reds previously, but returned to Ballymore ahead of the 2017 season because he felt he had something to contribute to Queensland’s future success and it’s clear to everyone how much he cares about this place.

“He’s also a smart Rugby player in good form and he has the respect of his teammates.

“It’s also important to acknowledge the good work done by James (Slipper) as captain over the last three years and Samu (Kerevi) in the role of stand-in captain last season. They’re still leaders within the group and will provide plenty of support to Scott.”

Higginbotham made his debut for Queensland in 2008 and went on to play 65 games for Queensland, including a key role in the side’s Super Rugby triumph in 2011.

The 2018 season will be Higginbotham’s second since returning to Queensland, after three seasons with the Melbourne Rebels, including two as captain, and two in Japan’s Top League. He returned to Ballymore briefly during this period to contribute to McInnes Wilson Lawyers Brisbane City in their undefeated run at the National Rugby Championship title in 2015.

The Reds’ will play the first of three pre-season fixtures this Friday 2 February with an intra-squad opposed training session at Ballymore Stadium at 5:15pm, as part of the annual Twilight Fan Day.

Scott Higginbotham
Position: Back row
Height: 195cm
Weight: 113kg
DOB: 05/09/1986
POB: Perth, WA
School: The Southport School
Club: Wests
Representative honours: Australian Sevens (2007-2008), Queensland (2008-2012, 2017-), Australian Wallabies (2010-), Rugby World Cup (2011), Brisbane City (2015)
Queensland Representative Number: 1220
Queensland/Super Rugby debut: 2008 v Bulls, Suncorp Stadium
Queensland caps: 78
Queensland points: 105 (21T)
Super Rugby caps: 123 (78 Reds, 45 Rebels)
Super Rugby points: 180 (36T)
Test debut: 2010 v France, Stade de France
Test caps: 34
Test points: 15 (3T)

 

Upgraded Notshe expected after returning from Sevens

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Sikhumbuzo Notshe has always been highly rated by me and now the Stormers and Western Province can expect and upgraded version when he returns for the Super Rugby after a short stay with Blitzbokke.

Vodacom Rugby caught up with the Stormers man

 

“There are a couple of areas where I feel that I improved in the last couple of months – my skills benefited, as did my workrate,” Notshe said from the Blitzboks’ base in New Zealand where they’re preparing for the Hamilton Sevens.

Notshe joined the sevens programme in October last year, was selected for the SA Rugby Sevens Academy side that played in Dubai in December, got his Blitzboks call-up for the Australasian leg of the World Rugby Sevens Series and made his Blitzboks debut in Sydney last weekend, when he replaced Ruhan Nel (knee).

“My one-on-one skills on defence and beating players on attack certainly benefited as well,” said the 24-year-old. “As did my work at the breakdown.”

This will be welcome news for Stormers supporters who have always had to concede that Notshe’s impressive speed has not been matched with the tenacity and physicality required of a Super Rugby loose forward.

The Wynberg old boy is keen to leave the Blitzboks with a bang by making a telling contribution at the Hamilton Sevens.

“Playing 15s will always be the bigger picture for me, but my involvement with the Blitzboks in the last couple of months certainly whet my appetite,” he said.

“There is a Commonwealth Games and a Rugby World Cup Sevens this year, but the biggest thing that will draw me back is the people that I worked with. There is a good culture going around here.”

Strong Sharks side for Racing clash in Hong Kong

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The Sharks are traveling to Hong Kong this weekend as they prepare for the 2018 Super Rugby.

They will face off with French top side Racing 92 this weekend and Sharks coach have picked a good side to take on the french side.

Robert Du Preez who had a huge impact in sinking the Sharks in the Currie Cup final last year will start for his new franchise at ten with Louw and Am making up the midfield this weekend.

The Sharks has a explosive back three in Mapompi, Van Wyk and Mvovo for this friendly.

The Sharks have confirmed that the game will be streamed live on their Facebook page.

The kick-off will be 10:00 South African time.

Sharks – 15 Lwazi Mvovo, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Lukhanho Am, 12 Marius Louw,  11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Cameron Wright, 8 Keegan Daniel, 7 Jacques Vermeulen, 6 Philip van der Walt, 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Ruan Botha (c), 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Franco Marais, 1 Juan Schoeman.
Subs: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Mzamo Majola, 18 John-Hubert Meyer, 19 Hyron Andrews, 20 Tyler Paul, 21 Tera Mtembu, 22 Grant Williams, 23 Curwin Bosch, 24 Jeremy Ward, 25 Sbusiso Nkosi, 26 Garth April.

Preview Super Rugby 2018 – Emirates Lions

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The best team the last two years in South Africa by far and after reaching two finals in the same period the Lions will want to go all the way this year.

Many would have put money on the Lions to beat the Crusaders last year at home in the final but a red card to Kwagga Smith ended their quest to lift the Super Rugby trophy.

It was also the last match in charge for Lions coach Johan Ackermann who moved to England after the Super Rugby final.

With Ackermann the Lions also lost some players who moved on in Ruan Ackermann, (Gloucester), Fabian Booysen (released), Faf de Klerk (Sale), Jaques Nel (Kings), Akker van der Merwe (Sharks), Jaco van der Walt (Edinburgh), Hencus van Wyk (Munakata Sanix Blues).

With coach Swys de Bruin taken over from Ackermann this year we can see excitement brewing in the Lions camp and among their supporters.

De Bruin started his coaching career in Durban at the Sharks Academy. He was the head coach of the Sharks U21 side in 1996 and 1997 and took charge of the Natal Wildebeest in the 1998 Vodacom Cup, guiding the team to the semi-finals of the competition.

De Bruin moved to Kimberley to become the head coach of the Griquas. He coached the side between 1998 and 2003, helping them reach the final of the competition in 1999 and 2000.

In 2001, De Bruin was also in charge of the South Africa Under-21 team. He returned to Durban in 2004 to join as the head and skills coach of the Sharks Academy, helping out at Vodacom Cup, Under-21 and Under-19 level.

After eight seasons back in Durban, De Bruin moved to Johannesburg to become Golden Lions and Lions head coach Johan Ackermann’s assistant coach.

Coach Swys has picked a very strong squad for this year. The Lions have been the pride of South Africa for the past two years where the rest was just there and we expect another good year from them.

Here is there squad:

Jacobie Adriaanse, Cyle Brink, Robbie Coetzee, Andries Coetzee, Ruan Combrinck, Ross Cronjé, Ashlon Davids, Hacjivah Dayimani, Ruan Dreyer, Aphiwe Dyanti, Willie Engelbrecht, Lourens Erasmus, Andries Ferreira, Corne Fourie, Rhyno Herbst, Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Marco Jansen van Vuren, Elton Jantjies, Johannes Jonker, Jaco Kriel, Robert Kruger, Sylvian Mahuza, Lionel Mapoe, Malcolm Marx, Len Massyn, Christiaan Meyer, Howard Mnisi, Franco Mostert, Marvin Orie, Shaun Reynolds, Marnus Schoeman, Sti Sithole, Courtnall Skosan, Dillon Smith, Kwagga Smith, Dylan Smith, Madosh Tambwe, Jacques van Rooyen, Harold Vorster, Warren Whiteley (c).

The talent and experience of the squad will help De Bruin in his first year of coaching the Lions in Super Rugby.

He has an experience captain who is also the Springbok captain and have been playing way above his weight.

Beside from the brilliant leader that Warren Whiteley has been he is one of those players that do not leave anything on the field.

With Warren you have Jaco Kriel who has also not shown great leadership but also one of the best players the last couple of years in South Africa.

What makes the Lions such a great team is the combination of a great pack with a backline that can rip through any defence.

Although Jantjies have struggled somewhat at international level last year, he still makes and breaks this Lions side.

With the world cup next year and Pollard with some youngsters breathing down his neck one can expect a good season from Elton.

Devastating runners on a mission to score tries have been the mark of this Lions team for more than three years.

We can expect allot of tries and another shot this year at the title.

Still the best shot of any SA team to lift the trophy.

The Lions start there season against the Sharks at home on the 17 February

 

Lions run in 10 tries against Bulls

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The Lions ran in 10 tries to demolish the Bulls at Emirates Airline Park on Saturday in their pre-season match.

It was a perfect start for the Lions beating the Bulls 66-22 at the end. With the Bulls splitting their squad in two to play the Sharks and Lions on the same day now seems not to have been such a clever idea.

People must never read to much into these pre-season matches as coaches normally test players and combinations.

The Bulls was in the lead after 25 minutes with 10-5 but it soon turned around with the Lions dominating play.

 

The Lions, who had opened the scoring through No 8 Willie Engelbrecht, responded with a five-pointer from lock Marvin Orie, only for the Bulls to hit back with their third try through wing Irvin Ali.

However, it was the hosts who finished the half strongly, with centre Manual Rass and flank Hacjiva Dayimani dotting down to make it 26-15 at the break.

The second half was one-way traffic. Jo-Hanko de Villiers, Giani Lombard, Madosh Tabwe, Christiaan Meyer, Louritz van der Schyff and Shaun Reynolds all crossed the tryline for the Lions, while Rickert Korff added five points to the Bulls’ tally.

Scorers:

Lions – Tries: Willie Engelbrecht, Marvin Orie, Manny Rass, Hacjiva Dayimani, Jo-Hanko de Villiers, Giani Lombard, Madosh Tabwe, Christiaan Meyer, Louis van der Schyff, Shaun Reynolds.
Conversions: Reynolds (7), Lombard.
Bulls – Tries: Ginter Smuts, Dries Swanepoel, Irvin Ali, Rickert Korff. Conversion: Tony Jantjies

Sharks to strong for Bulls

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The Sharks started their pre-season with a good win over the Bulls in Polokwane on Saturday.

New Sharks wing Mapimpi scored a double to secure a 31-14 win for the Sharks against a split Bulls squad who also played against the Lions.

The Sharks went the other way and used their full squad in the match which gave their coaching staff a good sense of where they are with what player at the moment.

It was a strong team in the first half for the Sharks but their was not much between the two teams in the first 15 minutes.

Scrum penalties gave the Sharks the change to score first through Cameron White

Libbok hit back with a try for the Bulls just before halftime to make the score 7 all.

The second half belong to the Sharks with Mapimpi shining for this new franchise in his first match for them.

The Sharks went into a 12 point lead and the Sharks kept dominating play in the last 10 minutes.

Jaco Visagie did score another try for the Bulls but they were outplayed by the Sharks.

 

 

Scorers:

Bulls – Tries: Manie Libbok, Jaco Visagie. Conversions: Libbok, Marnitz Boshoff.
Sharks – Tries: Cameron Wright, Makazole Mapimpi (2), Marius Louw, Jacques Vermeulen. Conversions: Curwin Bosch, Rob du Preez (2).

 

Another Lions wing injured

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The Lions have suffered a huge injury below even before the Super Rugby has started with the news that Skosan has been ruled out due to a knee injury.

This is not what the Lions would have been hoping for even before the tournament started with the Springbok playing a major role in last years success.

With Combrinck already on the sideline the Lions have now two of their Springboks not being able to start the new season.

Scans later confirmed that the he had torn his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).

The Lions are set to host the Bulls in a pre-season encounter on Saturday at Ellis Park at 15:00 while their Super Rugby campaign gets underway on at home against the Sharks on February 17.

Highlanders, Chiefs clash set for Suva

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The Highlanders will play a Super Rugby game in Suva, Fiji against New Zealand rivals the Chiefs on June 30, the franchise has announced.

Both the Chiefs and Crusaders have participated in games there over recent years, as well as the Blues staging a fixture in Samoa this year. The matches are generally viewed as a way of supporting and growing rugby in the Pacific Islands, read a statement from the Highlanders.

Highlanders CEO Roger Clark said: “We view the game in Fiji as an opportunity to broaden the appeal of Super Rugby.

We are aware of the large following Super Rugby enjoys in Fiji and we are happy to have the chance to showcase our style of game in the islands; we are grateful to the Fijian Government and Fortress Information Systems for extending the invitation.

Fiji has produced so many great players including our own Waisake Naholo; it will be a great experience for him and all the players.”

Head coach Aaron Mauger added: “We will certainly embrace this opportunity as a team; it’s a different challenge but potentially an exciting one.

There have been some great Super Rugby games in Fiji over the last few years and against the Chiefs we will obviously have to be at our best; but we know to be successful in Super Rugby, you have to be prepared to play anyone, anywhere, at any time.”

No place for Potgieter and Paige in Bulls sqaud

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Vodacom Bulls head coach, John Mitchell, on Monday named 38 players as well the leadership for the 2018 Vodacom Super Rugby season. The coach named midfielder, Burger Odendaal and loose forward, Nic de Jager, as co-captains.

The squad is made up out of 21 forwards and 17 backs, with 11 of those being Springboks and furthermore includes a host of Junior Springboks. Springbok Sevens forward Tim Agaba has also been included and will join the squad after the Blitzboks return from tournaments in Sydney and Hamilton.

Only a handful of players do not have any Vodacom Super Rugby experience, among those outside back Divan Rossouw, midfielder JT Jackson, flyhalf Manie Libbok, scrumhalf Embrose Papier and lock Aston Fortuin.

The Vodacom Bulls will be involved in two warm-up matches this weekend as they take on the Cell C Sharks in Polokwane on Saturday at 18h00, and the Emirates Lions in Johannesburg earlier at 15h00.

“We have made tremendous progress with our processes over the last couple of months and we will be ready for whatever comes our way during Super Rugby 2018,” said Mitchell

“I don’t want to make any promises on how the team will perform this year, we will be solely focussed on the process.

It’s about marginal gains for us, stacking good stuff on good stuff daily as we continue to ensure excellence.  It’s not about the end but rather the daily effort combined at the end. Our purpose is to fill Loftus and put smiles on people’s faces. We will be working very hard to achieve that.”

“I am confident that we have worked smartly and laid a solid foundation. This squad will develop and improve and one needs to be realistic about it, but we are all in agreement about the way forward.

We will be connected, we want to be respected and not just liked and therefore one of our main focus areas during this process will be to remain honest and never forget to enjoy it and have fun.

We want to serve our fans, supporters, shareholders and sponsors – we want to earn back their respect and get the Vodacom Bulls to bind us together as one.”

The Bullls also confirmed that we have parted ways with loose forward Jacques Potgieter after lengthy discussions on his future.

Potgieter has decided not to partake in Vodacom Super Rugby during 2018, and rather take a sabbatical to focus on his family and spend time with his wife, boy and soon to be born twins.

We would like to sincerely thank him for his contributions to the team both on and off the field, and wish him well with his future endeavours.

He will make an announcement later in the year regarding his future.

The Vodacom Bulls Super Rugby squad is:

Outside Backs: Warrick Gelant, Duncan Matthews, Travis Ismaiel, Jamba Ulengo, Jade Stighling, Divan Rossouw.

Midfielders: Burger Odendaal, JT Jackson, Francois Brummer, Jesse Kriel, Johnny Kotze

Flyhalves: Handre Pollard, Marnitz Boshoff, Manie Libbok

Halfbacks: Ivan van Zyl, Andre Warner, Embrose Papier

Loose Forwards: Roelof Smit, Ruan Steenkamp, Hendre Stassen, Hanro Liebenberg, Jannes Kirsten, Nic de Jager, Tim Agaba.

Locks: Jason Jenkins, Ruben van Heerden, RG Snyman, Lood de Jager, Aston Fortuin.

Props: Pierre Schoeman, Conraad van Vuuren, Frans van Wyk, Matthys Basson, Lizo Gqoboka, Trevor Nyakane.

Hookers: Jaco Visagie, Adriaan Strauss, Edgar Marutlulle

Fleck happy with effort in George but injuries a concern

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Robbie Fleck was satisfied with the intensity his team showed on defence and at the breakdown in their pre-season encounter with SWD Eagles in George on Saturday.

Fleck’s charges ran in 11 converted tries to claim a convincing 77-0 victory at Outeniqua Park, but the DHL Stormers boss was particularly happy with the fact that his team managed to keep the opposition scoreless on the day.

Defence and breakdown have been a major focus for the DHL Stormers in pre-season, with the results clear to see for everyone at what was a wet Outeniqua Park on Saturday.

“There were two things from our side that we came from this game with and we wanted to get right. One was our physicality, especially in the carrying and at the breakdown, the other one was our defensive effort.

“I thought the conditions were difficult, but our breakdown was outstanding on attack. Whenever we come here [George] it is always a dogfight at the breakdown, but our physicality around there was something that we can be proud of.

“Our defensive effort was good today, I thought we got off the line nicely and we created a few try-scoring opportunities through our defence.

“Those are the things that we have been focusing on in the last couple of weeks, regardless of who the opposition is we are happy with how that went,” said Fleck.

While not every pass went to hand in the slippery conditions, Fleck pronounced himself satisfied with the intent shown fom all of the 32 DHL Stormers that made it onto the park.

“Our skill level let us down a bit, part of that was the conditions, but we can cut down on our mistakes. The intent and the effort was there and that is what we wanted to get out of this,” he said.

The pre-season clash was also a good opportunity to have a look at what some of the young talent has to offer going forward, with a number of players sticking their hand up.

“It was pretty much an U21 pack, which shows that we are building some good depth at the moment. It was a good opportunity for these youngsters to stake a claim and I think they all did pretty well.

“In the last 10 or 15 minutes we brought all of those youngsters on and some of them are fresh out of school, so there are going to be some mistakes but there is obviously some real talent that is coming through,” said Fleck.

Fleck is confident that he has enough firepower at his disposal to make a positive start to what will be another demanding campaign.

“Out of our first eight games six are away from home, so we are touring after one game at home and the likes of Eben [Etzebeth] and Frans [Malherbe] are going to be missing from that tour. Jean-Luc and Dan du Plessis will still be out as well, but we are going to get them back, which is the pleasing side.

“The medical staff are working incredibly hard to get them back fit and ready, we need to get them 100% ready before we play them.

“We are taking it on a week by week basis with Eben, it is the type of injury where once it reacts and the muscles and the nerves start working again it is quite a quick turnaround,” he said.

Preview Super Rugby 2018 – Cell C Sharks

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Talking about the Sharks before Super Rugby season starts is like reading the winning numbers of your lotto ticket just to release when you claim your price that you had one number wrong.

Every year for some years now the Sharks have the players to be able to dominate the competition and every year they disappoint their supporters at some stage.

The Sharks have yet again manage to have some real quality players in their squad and added to that they have made the best transfers as well in the off season.

With only two major injury concerns to start the season the Sharks will be looking to go better than last year when they lost against the Lions in the play-offs.

It looks like Coenie Oosthuizen will be out for the whole Super Rugby and Jean-Luc that will only join them in April.

Even with Coenie out of the picture the Sharks have the Beast, Thomas Du Toit, Ross Geldenhuys, Meyer and Majola to show up in the front row.

Add the talent of Akker van der Merwe and Ralepelle at the number 2 jumper you have a great front-row who will be able to compete against the best.

The Sharks have always had some great locks and this year will be no different with Lewies, Botha, Andrew and Koegelenberg to man up in the lineouts.

They did loose Etienne Oosthuizen to Lyon but that should not be a problem for the men in black.

In the loose they have quality with players like Du Preez twins, Daniel, Van der Walt, Vermeulen and Mtembu

The key for the Sharks will be at the back this year if they want to secure a playoff spot. They mostly one dimension play we have seen from them the last couple of years just does not cut it anymore.

There are some excitement among Sharks supporters this year with players like Louis Schreuder, Robert Du Preez, Curwin Bosch, Lukhanyo Am, Andre Esterhuizen, Sbusiso Nkosi, Makezole Mapimpi and Leolin Zas.

All of these players can provide the Sharks with that X-Factor they need to take their game to the next level like the Lions have shown us all.

Sharks coach Robert du Preez is happy where they team is right now as he spoke to Sharks website “The boys worked really hard with a big emphasis on keeping the pre-season a lot more rugby-related. I think the players enjoyed it although we did take them out their comfort zone, so there was no status quo as far as how things have been done in the past.

But they adapted well and they’ve enjoyed their pre-season. The boys then went on a three week break over Christmas before returning to training.”

As far as the players’ conditioning goes, he said he was encouraged by their commitment and hard work.

“I’m very pleased with that aspect, although there is still a lot of work to do. They’ve worked hard, came back nice and refreshed and ready for what we have to do now.

The Sharks have also added some new personal to their coaching bench in Dick Muir and Braam van Straaten.

Robert Du Preez has progress nicely as a coach at the Sharks but he will be under some pressure this year to produce a better performance in the tournament.

With the Sharks having all the qualities on paper to be successful in Super Rugby, their fans will be hoping this year the can bring the quality on paper to the field.

 

New Stormers to get run in George

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New DHL Stormers recruits Sergeal Petersen and Raymond Rhule were both named as part of the squad to face SWD Eagles in a pre-season match George on Saturday.

DHL Stormers Head Coach Robbie Fleck has named a 32-man squad for the encounter, which will be played in four chukkas and kicks off at 15h00 at Outeniqua Park on Saturday.

In addition to the playing squad, there will be a further 13 DHL Stormers players who will travel to George in order to take part in a Fun Run at on Saturday morning.

Captain Siya Kolisi will be there with the likes of Steven Kitshoff, Wilco Louw, Pieter-Steph du Toit and Dillyn Leyds on the 5km fun run, which starts at Outeniqua Park at 08h00 on Saturday.

Petersen and Rhule will be joined by fellow Springbok Damian de Allende in the squad for the warm-up clash, along with exciting young talents such as Salmaan Moerat and Juarno Augustus.

Also included in the playing squad are five members of the DHL Western Province U21 team that won the national championship last year in Eddie Zandberg, Ruben de Villiers, Paul de Wet, Herchel Jantjies and Wikus Groenewald, along with U19 talents Christian Ambadiang, Sihle Njezula, Rikus Pretorius and David Kriel who will all be at the Western Province Rugby Institute this year.

Players who were not available for selection due to injury include Eben Etzebeth (shoulder), Jean-Luc du Plessis (groin), Dan du Plessis (shoulder), Frans Malherbe (neck), Jano Vermaak (knee), Jan de Klerk (knee), Scarra Ntubeni (hamstring), EW Viljoen (foot), Michael Kumbirai (back), Grant Hermanus (groin), Johan du Toit (knee) and Justin Phillips (rib).

Etzebeth has seen a multidisciplinary team of doctors regarding his shoulder injury and is being evaluated weekly, but is not yet fit to train and will be out for at least four months.

Jean-Luc and Dan du Plessis are both expected to be sidelined for a further eight weeks, with Jean-Luc recovering from recent groin surgery in the USA and Dan out with a shoulder injury.

Vermaak will also be out of action for a further two months with a knee injury that was seen to in the off-season, whilst Malherbe continues to recover from his neck injury and is only expected back later in the season.

Fleck said that the first pre-season game will give him a chance to give a wide range of players some game-time against a competitive SWD outfit.

“We always look forward to our pre-season trips to George and we are expecting the usual spirited opposition from the Eagles, which is just what we need after a hard pre-season.

“While we will be getting in some valuable preparation on the pitch, it is also exciting to be able to connect with the community in George through the Fun Run some of our players will take part in on Saturday morning,” he said.

DHL Stormers playing squad: Christian Ambadiang, Juarno Augustus, Jaco Coetzee, Damian de Allende, Ruben de Villiers, Paul de Wet, Stefan de Wit, Wikus Groenewald, JC Janse van Rensburg, Herschel Jantjies, Eduan Keyter, Dan Kriel, David Kriel, SP Marais, Salmaan Moerat, Dean Muir, Sihle Njezula, Caylib Oosthuizen, Sergeal Petersen, Rikus Pretorius, Raymond Rhule, Carlu Sadie, Ramone Samuels, Chad Solomon, Joshua Stander, Luke Stringer, Kobus van Dyk, Chris van Zyl, Ali Vermaak, George Whitehead, Cobus Wiese, Eddie Zandberg.

Preview Super Rugby 2018 – Vodacom Bulls

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One of the sides I do feel particular excited about this year is the Vodacom Bulls who have not done well the last couple of years in Super Rugby.

The franchise have gone through allot of changes which contribute to their poor form on and off the field.

In any team sport you have cycles with some teams preparing well when players leave and others struggle. It will be fair to say the Bulls struggled the last two years with not planning for the player exodus and not recruiting well either.

Their is some ill-feeling in the union as well with Xander Janse van Rensburg who is not a popular man at the moment and also by some account the one responsible for most of the Blue Bulls and Bulls problems.

At the end of the day we can name a 100 reason for the Bulls poor form in Super Rugby but at the end it comes down to the players and the coaches showing us on the field.

The Bulls have a international coach in Mitchell who has been working with the players since the Currie Cup last year, so no excuses anymore.

The Bulls currently have a wider training squad which they have been working with since November last year.

Part of Mitchell team will be Skills, attack and kicking Hayden Groepes, Forward Coach & Lineouts Pote Human and Forward Coach & Scrums Gary Botha.

His wider squad is:

Props: Pierre Schoeman, Trevor Nyakane, Lizo Gqoboka, Conraad van Vuuren, John-Roy Jenkinson, Frans van Wyk, Mox Mxoli, Matthys Basson, Gerhard Steenekamp (Apprentice, injured).

Hookers: Jaco Visagie, Adriaan Strauss, Edgar Marutlulle, Johan Grobbelaar, Jan-Henning Campher, Corniel Els (injured)

Locks: Jason Jenkins, RG Snyman (both Japan), Lood de Jager, Aston Fortuin, Ruben van Heerden, Eli Snyman, Abongile Nonkontwana

Loose Forwards: Roelof Smit, Jacques Potgieter (Japan), Hanro Liebenberg, Ruan Steenkamp (injured), Jannes Kirsten, Nic de Jager (Japan), Hendre Stassen (injured), Tim Agaba (SA Sevens), Thembelani Bholi, Shaun Adendorff, Boom Prinsloo, Marco van Staden, Denzil Hill (apprentice), Eduan Lubbe (apprentice), Jaco Bezuidenhout (apprentice), Kwezi Mafu (apprentice), Ryno Pieterse (apprentice).

Scrumhalves: Rudy Paige, Ivan van Zyl (injured), Andre Warner, Embrose Papier, Theo Maree

Flyhalves: Handre Pollard, Marnitz Boshoff, Manie Libbok, Tony Jantjies, Tinus de Beer.

Midfielders: Jesse Kriel, Dries Swanepoel, Johnny Kotze, Ulrich Beyers, Stedman Gans (SA 7s), Burger Odendaal, Francois Brummer (Japan), JT Jackson (injured).

Outside backs: Warrick Gelant, Travis Ismaiel, Jamba Ulengo, Duncan Matthews, Jade Stighling, Franco Naude, Divan Rossouw, Andell Loubser (apprentice).

First glance over this squad feels like a quality unit and with the injury god staying on their side the Bulls can may as well be a contender this year.

There are a few players we can a look out for this year with Warrick Gelant one of the names that makes any rugby supporter smile.

Gelant got his change finally last year with Coetzee but still has allot to grow this year to make a Springbok number 15 jumper his.

The ability and skills of the player has been brilliant last year and the one thing Mitchell and Co needs to help him improved is his defence.

As a Springbok fan we need Handre Pollard to have a big year as well. Jantjies had to carry all the weight the last couple of seasons and with the World Cup approaching we need options at ten.

Pollard have a brilliant eye for the game and with great feet and hands add that extra option at ten we so desperately need.

He is not afraid to to attack the line and have a monster boot when on song.

The final player I expect more from this year is Burger Odendaal. It seems all he needed was a quick stop at the barber and his rugby will improved.

He has been brilliant for the Blue Bulls in the Currie Cup and not just a great play maker in the team but also lead the team as captain well.

He is a proper big and strong boy who can turn on the speed if needed. Was massively impressed by his defence and attack in the Currie Cup and expected him to take another step forward in this years Super Rugby.

Off the field the Bulls have set the tone as well with their away strip which incorporate the local Sundowns Football Club.

This for me was a stroke of genius to not just bring all supporters together but to help make rugby a sport for all people in Pretoria.

Their has been a long standing relationship between the Bulls and Sundowns and it is great to see two different sport codes in partnership for their supporters.

The Bulls have always been the team which most South Africans through all races have supported and they have just added to that with this away kit

It is not going to be easy for the Bulls with new coaches and players but they have enough to make the Loftus faithful smile again and come to the stadium.

Bulls should make the play-offs and anything can happen from there.

Pre-Season matches:

27 January
Lions vs Bulls
Bulls vs Sharks
3 February
Stormers vs Bulls
10 February
Bulls vs Jaguares

Vodacom Bulls and DHL Stormers LA tour cancelled

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The Vodacom Super Rugby pre-season warmup match, that was supposed to be played between the Vodacom Bulls and the DHL Stormers in Los Angeles has been cancelled due to issues regarding the agreed upon transfers and logistics.

Player welfare and the management thereof are extremely important to the Vodacom Bulls as well as the DHL Stormers, and will not be compromised on in this regard.
However, both teams are extremely excited to announce that the fixture will still be played locally at the Boland Stadium on 3 February 2018, with kickoff scheduled for 16h00.

More details regarding the game and availability of tickets will be made public in due course.

Waratahs sign New Zealnd U20 Hooker

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Former New Zealand Under 20s hooker JP Sauni is the newest recruit for the NSW Waratahs after signing with the franchise for 2018.

Sauni’s signing secures a group of young, up and coming front-rowers alongside Harry Johnson-Holmes, Shambeckler Vui and Cody Walker who have the opportunity to be mentored by current Wallabies Tom Robertson and Sekope Kepu.

20-year-old Sauni is no stranger to the Australian rugby landscape after moving to Melbourne with his family in 2010 and finishing his schooling at Hallam Senior College in the Victorian capital.

And it didn’t take him long to make an impression, playing his way into the Melbourne Rebels Under 20s side in 2016.

He returned to New Zealand the same year and after an impressive season with the Auckland Under 20 side, he forced his way into the New Zealand Under 20 team for the Junior World Championship in Georgia earlier the year. Ironically, his new Waratahs team mates Harry Johnson-Holmes, Vui and Walker were in the Australian team.

Sauni said: “I had no hesitation in moving to Sydney because the Waratahs offered me the best opportunity to develop my game. I am on a massive learning experience but I am prepared to do whatever it takes to play international rugby.”

Simon Cron, former Australian Under 20s head coach and now NSW Waratahs forwards coach, speaks highly of Sauni.

“In our first meeting with JP we were really impressed by his professional approach to everything that he does. He is a great addition to the team and will provide added competition for the No. 2 jersey. He is still young but has shown that he is a talented player and I cannot wait to help him fulfil that potential,” Cron said.

Sauni isn’t the only rugby player in his family and grew up hearing about his uncle Filipo Saena’s achievements for Manu Samoa.

“He played for Samoa at the 1991 Rugby World Cup and I think hearing about his career inspired me to one day play international rugby as well. He has had a massive influence on me, especially when my weight ballooned to nearly 150kg a couple of years back. He motivated me to eat well, to start training, to be disciplined and to stay focused.”

Bulls away Jersey

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Rugby catches football fever this weekend ahead of the Sundowns vs Pirates match as technical partner PUMA unveils the 2018 Vodacom Bulls Away kit in blue, white and yellow – a tribute to fellow city sporting giants Mamelodi Sundowns, the CAF Champions League winners and most successful team in the PSL era.

Not being one to shy away from a bold shirt design, the Vodacom Bulls will face their opponents in true Bafana Ba Style fashion emulating the Brazilians flair on field whilst carrying the same elements found on the Bulls Home kit – a 20180 graphic on the chest in celebration of the Rugby Union’s 80year anniversary in 2018 – ultimately opening up the doors for football and rugby fans to join the Bulls as one family.

“Great uniforms are based on teams, not individuals and because PUMA is extremely privileged to be the official technical partner of both Bulls and Sundowns, we are in the position to exercise our creative license in terms of team kit design,” said PUMA Marketing Director Brett Bellinger.

“We believe this one-of a kind kit is going to be a sought-after collector’s item for both rugby and football fans, especially those who follow both of the city’s giants – two of the strongest sporting brands in South Africa.”

CEO of the Bulls Company, Barend van Graan, said: ““The Vodacom Bulls have always believed in a bigger dream of uniting Tshwane, one that ensures that we fight to uphold the pride of our city. Both teams represent this beautiful city and we believe that sharing our colours is a great way of expressing that. This alignment no doubt also shows an amazing unity, not only between the brands but also the sporting codes. The bold move also shows the Vodacom Bulls’ willingness to embrace and unite, to be leaders and torch bearers in the process of continually unifying our people.”

Bold progress in kit design doesn’t have to hamper tradition. PUMA is taking this statement to new levels with an Away kit representative of new traditions which are culturally rich with the intention of strengthening their commitment to fans and supporters.

The Vodacom Bulls Away jersey will hit stores 1 February 2018 for R799 at PUMA stores, Totalsports, The Cross Trainer, Sportsmans Warehouse and selected retailers nationwide.

#20180

#BullsFamily

Stormers send SOS to Whitehead

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The season has not even started and the Stormers has already send out a SOS to Griquas ten George Whitehead as reported by  Netwerk24

WP Rugby has confirm the arrangement when the player joined the pre-season squad on Wednesday.

With Robert Du Preez moving to the Sharks last year the Stormers look a bit thin on the number 10 position with D Plessis return still unknown.

That leaves them with Willemse, Stander in the squad.

Stander signed from the Bulls last year and will certainly future for the Stormers this year with Willemse most properly the number 1 choice at this stage.

Whitehead, 28, has spent time at the Cheetahs, Kings and Griffons before joining Griquas in 2017.

The Stormers open their 2018 Super Rugby campaign at home against the Jaguares on Saturday, February 17.

 

 

 

Genia ready to earn Rebels starting berth

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He may be one of the most decorated players in Australian rugby but Melbourne Rebels new recruit Will Genia has no expectation of waltzing straight into the starting line-up.

Despite boasting 111 Super Rugby appearances and 88 Test caps, Genia has arrived at the Rebels for his first day of training on Thursday prepared to work hard and earn his selection for the opening round.

Genia kicked-off his pre-season campaign in warm and muggy conditions on Gosch’s Paddock after a well-deserved six-week hiatus following the conclusion of the Spring Tour.

“I’ve got a bit of work to do, I had a good six weeks off,” Genia said after his first session in Rebels colours.

“I did a little bit of training but nothing compares to getting out there and stuck in with the boys. I’ve got six weeks to get myself ready for that first game.

“I just need to concentrate on my job and try to get myself an opportunity in the starting line-up as well so we’ll just train hard and see where we go.”

His arrival in Melbourne marks the much-anticipated return of the scrumhalf to Australian rugby after two years with Stade Francais.

A move that excites Genia as he begins a new chapter with the Rebels.

“It was something I was looking forward to,” Genia said of his return to Australia.

“Once my duties with the Wallabies were done at the end of last year, I was really looking forward to having a break then getting stuck in.

“Super Rugby is a competition that I definitely enjoy playing, I love the level of rugby that’s on offer.

“It’s great to be a part of a new group that’s building something special here in Melbourne.”

The 29-year-old was wary of the expectation surrounding the revamped Rebels ahead of the 2018 Super Rugby season.

Genia quick to point out that a quality squad on paper doesn’t necessarily translate into immediate success without hard work behind the scenes.

“We, ourselves, set high expectations,” Genia said.

“You can look at the playing group on paper and people think that we should do this or could do that but the biggest thing is that we build that environment and culture,” Genia said.

“The one thing about having all these high-quality players is that there’s a lot of competition for spots.

“If we can have that healthy competition it will only drive each other to get better individually and collectively as a group.”

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We need a Super 2018

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We in 2018 and we are 1 year and 8 months away from Japan 2019 World Cup.

A new year is also a new beginning for some and for some it will just be the same old same old.

The past year we saw the All Blacks stay as the top side in the world with England the only real threat for the men in black and the rest making up the numbers really.

The less said about Springbok rugby the better….

Super Rugby is not far away anymore and with a revamp structure it should be more competitive but still not ideal. The Sunwolves have recruited a lot of players in the off season and it seems more Japanese players will also be playing in the competition.

SANZAAR needs 15 competitive teams in the competition as ratings have fallen to a all time low with fans not going to matches anymore. The competition is in trouble and SANZAAR will be hoping that less will be more this year.

From a South African point of view we should be able to put four very competitive teams on the field with the Lions that will have allot of pressure on them after reaching the final two years in a row.

With Ackermann that left the den and De Bruin taking over fans will want to see continuity from their side. Some even think that this is year must be the year for the Lions but it will not be easy.

The Bulls have a new coach in Mitchell and with some exciting talent in Pretoria they will be hoping that a new coach will be able to get the Bulls back to winning ways and develop the great talent they always have in Pretoria.

Excitement is definitely in the air with Mitchell in charge but now they will have to do it on the field.

The Sharks have been for so long one of the best teams in Super Rugby on paper but they have struggled to get their quality players to perform. They have also been the most active in the off-season in buying some new players.

That the Sharks have all the making of a good team no one doubts but we need them to make 2018 a year where they do it on the field.

The Stormers had a three year plan with Feck as coach and this is the year that they wanted to win the Super Rugby competition. The Stormers have earned them the tag of Chokers which only they can make right.

As with the Sharks they have always had great players on paper but for some reason injuries have always been a huge factor for the Stormers which makes one wonder on their conditioning programs.

Whoever you support in 2018 we have four strong teams that should compete against the best and may even win it all but we need our teams to play a better brand of rugby which can then filter through to Springbok rugby.

We have the coaches and players to do this but for so long teams always falls back to the boring game plans when things do not go their way.

We need players and coaches with vision if you want to do good in Super Rugby and as we have seen over the years if you do good in Super Rugby your national side do good as well

 

Another Saffa join Sunwolves

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Former Bulls and Lions prop Hencus van Wyk will be playing for Japan’s Sunwolves in the 2018 Super Rugby competition.

The 25-year-old, who started his professional career at the Bulls, has been playing in Japan with the Munakata Sanix Blues since 2015.

He was on loan at the Lions during this year’s Super Rugby tournament.

According to Rugby365, Van Wyk’s move to the Sunwolves is a done deal.

It will mean that there are six South African-born players turning out for the Sunwolves in 2018 with Grant Hattingh, Willie Britz, Wimpie van der Walt, Gerhard van den Heever and Ruan Smith already confirmed.

The Sunwolves have been placed in the Australian Conference for the new-look tournament in 2018 and they will be desperate to show some improvement on their form in 2017 that saw them win just two games from 15.

The Sunwolves begin their 2018 campaign on February 24 when they host the Brumbies in Tokyo

Sunwolves with 5 Saffers for 2018 Super Rugby

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Sunwolves coach Jamie Josephhas named his squad for the 2018 Super Rugby season.

There are five South African-born players named in the Japanese team’s squad.

They include lock Grant Hattingh, prop Ruan Smith, wing Gerhard van den Heever and loose forwards Willie Britz and Wimpie van der Walt, who recently made his international debut for Japan.

Britz, a former Cheetahs and Lions player, was a regular member of the Sunwolves squad in the 2017 season, while South Africans will remember Hattingh as a having previously represented the Bulls.

Smith is a former Brumbies and Western Province front ranker, while Van den Heever previously represented the Bulls and Stormers.

The Sunwolves ended last season bottom of the South African Group with only two wins.

The Sunwolves will compete in the Australasian Conference in the new-look Super Rugby format next year.

They open their 2018 campaign on February 24 against the Brumbies in Tokyo.

Sunwolves 2018 Super Rugby squad:

Keita Inagaki, Asaeli Aivalu, Jiwon Koo, Ruan Smith, Craig Millar, Jaba Bradvadze, Shota Horie, Grant Hattingh, Sam Wykes, Kazuki Imeno, Uwe Helu, Edward Quirk, Shunsuke Nunomaki, Wimpie van der Walt, Willie Britz, Michael Leitch, Fumiaki Tanaka, Yu Tamura, Hayden Parker, Harumichi Tatekawa, Timoth Lafaele, Gerhard van den Heever, Kenki Fukuoka, Akihit Yamada, Lamano Lava Lemeki, Robbie Robinson

Reds 2018 Super Rugby Squad

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Queensland Reds head coach Brad Thorn has announced his playing squad and coaching staff for the 2018 Super Rugby campaign.

Joining the Reds coaching staff for the first time in 2018 will be former Queensland and Wallabies winger Paul Carozza, who has spent the last 15 years in various coaching roles at the Ballymore-based franchise, most recently as assistant coach with 2017 National Rugby Championship (NRC) winners Bond University Queensland Country and the undefeated Queensland U20s.

Carozza will join newly appointed head coach Thorn and recently appointed assistant coach Tony McGahan to form the coaching team for 2018.

The 2018 Reds squad features 10 new signings, seven of which have been selected from Queensland Country following their grand final win in the NRC, including Wallabies end-of-year tour development player Liam Wright and NRC leading try scorer Filipo Daugunu.

Heading to Ballymore for the first time will be former Brumbies and Stormers prop JP Smith, along with New South Wales Country Eagles hooker Brandon Paenga-Amosa.

A number of players have also been promoted from within the Reds pathway, including young locks Angus Blyth and Harry Hockings, back-row Angus Scott-Young, fly-half Hamish Stewart and scrum-half Tate McDermott. In total, 83 percent of the 2018 squad have emerged from Queensland pathway programmes.

Six players have been re-signed ahead of the 2018 season, including recent Wallabies debutant Karmichael Hunt, as well as Queensland Country standouts Caleb Timu, Chris Feauai-Sautia, Duncan Paia’aua, Izaia Perese and Eto Nabuli, who was also the Reds leading try scorer in 2017.

Twenty players have been retained from the 2017 squad, including Wallabies Lukhan Tui, Izack Rodda, Samu Kerevi, James Slipper, George Smith, Scott Higginbotham and Taniela Tupou.

Thorn said: “We’re excited to have Paul (Carozza) joining the Reds coaching staff, after providing me with good support in the Queensland U20s and with Queensland Country. He’s got a long history in Queensland Rugby and he is passionate about driving success at the Reds.

“We’ve managed to keep a fairly consistent squad for 2018, but we’ve also rewarded a lot of new players for their hunger and hard work throughout the 2017 season. I’m pleased to see them get their opportunity to be part of the Reds squad.

“It’s good to be back at Ballymore and into the thick of pre-season. We’ve got a lot of hard work ahead of us, but we’re excited by the challenge. Everyone you’ll see in Reds colours in 2018 will have worked extremely hard to get there.”

Reds fans should keep an eye out for further player announcements prior to the 2018 season.

2018 Reds squad:

Forwards: Sef Fa’agase, Harry Hooper, James Slipper, JP Smith, Taniela Tupou, Markus Vanzati, Alex Mafi, Andrew Ready, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, Angus Blyth, Kane Douglas, Harry Hockings, Izack Rodda, Lukhan Tui, Michael Gunn, Reece Hewat, Scott Higginbotham, Adam Korczyk, Angus Scott-Young, George Smith, Caleb Timu, Liam Wright

Backs: Nick Frisby, Tate McDermott, Moses Sorovi, James Tuttle, Quade Cooper, Hamish Stewart, Chris Feauai-Sautia, Samu Kerevi, Duncan Paia’aua, Filipo Daugunu, Karmichael Hunt, Lachlan Maranta, Eto Nabuli, Izaia Perese

Bulls to meet Sharks in Polokwane

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The Bulls will host the Sharks in a warm-up match for the 2018 Super Rugby season in Polokwane at the Peter Mokaba Stadium.

The match will be on the 27 January and it is great news for Bulls and Sharks fans. This is a secon dbig pre-season match for the Bulls after it was announce that they Will also face the Stormers in America next year as well.

‘The feedback we got from the players over the past couple of years was great and they all love playing in the stadium and interacting with the fans,’ said Bulls CEO Barend van Graan.

‘The cause is also one that the team is very keen about, and will be looking forward to assisting again.

It looks very promising for the Bulls next season with new coach Mitchell in charge and most of the Bulls supporters are looking forward to a much better season for their team after a good Currie Cup from the team under Micthell.

Force trio heading to Melbourne Rebels

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The Melbourne Rebels have added an international quartet to their squad with the signings of Matt Philip, Billy Meakes, Richard Hardwick and Tayler Adams ahead of the 2018 Super Rugby season.

Wallabies Philip, Hardwick and Meakes will reunite with head coach David Wessels until the end of the 2019 season while former New Zealand under-age international Adams will get his first shot at Super Rugby.

“We’re delighted to have Matt, Dickie (Richard) and Billy join us,” Wessels told the Melbourne Rebels’ official website.

“All three of them work incredibly hard and want to be part of the Wallabies team at the next World Cup. They’ll be a great addition to our squad both on and off-field.

“Tayler has shown exceptional potential this year with his consistency and game management for West Harbour and New South Wales Country Eagles.

“The four will add to our depth and versatility, as well as create healthy competition among the group.”

Wallabies lock Philip will continue his rapid rise in Australian rugby after committing to the Rebels for the next two seasons.

The second-row capped off a remarkable year with a Wallabies debut against Japan earlier this month after he established himself as the first-choice lock for the Western Force, where he made 10 appearances, including eight starts, in 2017.

Fellow forward, Hardwick was a mainstay of the Force’s 2017 campaign which saw the versatile back-row appear in all 15 games, and finish the year in third at the club for pilfers and forced penalties.

Hardwick’s meteoric rise in Australian rugby was capped off with two Wallabies appearances in June, including the 23-year-old’s Test debut against Fiji at AAMI Park in Melbourne.

Meakes has kept his Wallabies dream alive ahead of the 2019 Rugby World Cup after he signed with the Melbourne Rebels until the end of the 2019 Super Rugby season.

The hard-running midfielder was named in the Wallabies squad in 2017 after the 26-year-old impressed in his first Super Rugby season with the Western Force, where he started in all 14 of his appearances and finished the year as the club’s leader for tackle busts and second for offloads, line break assists and runs.

Rising star Adams has scored his first professional contract with the Melbourne Rebels after the utility impressed with the National Rugby Championship’s New South Wales Country Eagles and exhibition game against the Top League’s Toyota Verblitz on Sunday.

The 23-year-old playmaker made 24 appearances for Southland in New Zealand’s ITM Cup, where he made his debut at just 18 years old, before he moved across the Tasman to join the NRC’s Greater Sydney Rams (2015) and Eagles (2016-17).

The former New Zealand U20 representative was awarded the Shute Shield’s Player of the Year award, the Ken Catchpole Medal, with West Harbour and finished this year’s NRC as the competition’s fourth leading point scorer.

The Rebels officially kicked-off their pre-season on Thursday.

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