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The clock is ticking…

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SAfricaAway15

The deciding week in the Rugby Championship. South Africa will go into the last test having all but secured third spot on the log unless they succumb to a shock loss. Will Pieter-Steph du toit feature in the fourth game with the former Sharks lock having managed to get a few minutes against the Lions in the warm up game. The giant lock was impressive, dominant at lineout time, solid in defense and had a great break to cap off a decent night on the park. One has to hope he will feature for the Springboks and manage to get the same chance as Lood de jager had (missed most of the rugby this year but managed to step up in a Test match) and take it. The match against Argentina will be an opportunity for Meyer to have a look at several more options and it would be even better to try out some combinations. Will Jean de Villiers get the opportunity to win back his jumper? Had the skipper been fit the Springboks would not have been privileged to have Damien and Jesse in the midfield. That in itself is a positive from a fan’s perspective. His injury that is. What I do know is that Jean’s leadership will be the most important asset the Springboks get this week. It will be time for the skipper to prove the doubters wrong and step up to the plate; question is for who? Jan Serfontein is also believed to be recovered and all of a sudden Meyer has the difficult task of picking not just a squad but a best XV.

Argentina will present a physical onslaught and will require the very best from our player; our forwards more so. With Jannie and Francois Louw it will be an opportunity for several players to get a shot at the 31 man squad.

 

It is also expected Fourie du Preez and Willem Alberts more importantly will be back and a decision whether they will feature will be made later in the week. They are likely to receive much needed game time as they look to be ready for the England show piece. All hopes of the Springboks final showing will be on the shoulders of the returning stars. Argentina will not only be two dead rubber tests but they will tell Bok fans where exactly they stand with the World Cup on the horizon. The Springboks have managed to improve every game this year but it’s not good enough to dominate games over 60 minutes only. Goodness, even Wales have managed to perfect that art. They have managed to dominate against every powerhouse side but still lost. At the end of the day it counts for nothing! The next two weeks will be pivotal for all four nations. It will be the performance that is needed for Argentina and South Africa while Australia and New Zealand will be aiming for the crown. Will New Zealand be able to make it 19 from 21 win in the Rugby Championship? Will they claim every Rugby Championship title since its inception?

A funny story in somewhat has popped out of the New Zealand camp with the All Blacks looking to take their innovation levels to a new level by taking two half backs only to the world Cup. That would mean, take Aaron Smith and TJ Perenara and have Colin Slade cover the third slot. Why? Steve believes it could allow the All Blacks to take more back line options to the World Cup. This is something the men in black are considering, it looks like they were impressed by the Highlanders five-eighth Lima Sopoaga. Only time will tell if Colin Slade will actually be considered an option in this position. With Hooper cleared to face the All Blacks it will be an interesting match this weekend. It would also good be good to see the All Blacks give Beauden Barrett a run at Fly half and they could also throw in Patrick Osborne into the cauldron with the persistent injury to Cory Jane. With Steve Hansen believed to be willing to gamble on Nehe Milner-Skudder who was battling with a rib injury in one of the two tests against Australia. The All blacks are looking solid going into the World Cup and have the most balanced and assured side.

Australia may need to work on several aspects of their game such as their kickers who all have been shocking. The Australian scrum has improved but it will not worry their Pool A opponents who will see some creeks in that pack. A positive for the Wallabies will be the return of Kane Douglas. They are in desperate need of second row reinforcement as they will likely call on James Horwill this weekend with the injury to Rob Simmons.  The countdown to Rugby World Cup 2015 continues, and there will be a lot more questions answered in the next few weeks.

WP leer SA Rugby ‘n les

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Die internet ensiklopedie Wikipedia het sy eerste verskyning gemaak in daardie jaar.  Die wêreld was geskud toe terroriste in die World Trade Centre ingevlieg wat die torings tot die grond toe neer gebring het en tot gister, was dit die laaste keer wat Westelike Provinsie die Currie-beker omhoog gehou het.

Tahs ready to bench marquee halfback

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THE Waratahs’ marquee overseas signing Sarel Pretorius is in danger of being demoted to the bench for his team’s first encounter of the year against his countrymen when they play the Sharks in Sydney on Saturday afternoon.

Greg Growden

March 21, 2012

,.Cut off … Sarel Pretorius trained with the main Waratahs squad for only a small part of yesterday’s training session. Photo: Steve Christo

Back-up halfback Brendan McKibbin’s goalkicking ability could work in his favour when the selectors choose their team today, and see him start ahead of Pretorius, as there are concerns about placing any further pressure on Berrick Barnes, who will take over from Daniel Halangahu at five-eighth.

With Halangahu scheduled to be on the bench, Barnes was anticipated to take over as the team’s goal-kicker. However there is a fear that this role could aggravate the Wallaby utility’s groin complaint, which saw him miss the first two Super Rugby rounds. When Barnes was sidelined, he admitted that the injury had restricted his ability to kick goals. And the Waratahs don’t want Barnes to again join their growing list of unavailable Test players. Promoting McKibbin is one way to overcome those goal-kicking dilemmas.

In line for promotion ... Brendan McKibbin.In line for promotion … Brendan McKibbin. Photo: Getty Images

McKibbin ran with the Waratahs’ main team for virtually all of the 90-minute

training session at Allianz Stadium, while Pretorius, who was lured to Sydney this year from the Cheetahs, was in the back-up squad. It was only in the final moments of the session that Pretorius, who trained with a heavily strapped knee, and McKibbin swapped roles.

Also at the end of training, McKibbin practised his goal-kicking – clearly preparing himself in case he is required on Saturday. Barnes was also a spectator for the final part of training after having an ice pack applied to a corked left quadriceps.

Waratahs coach Michael Foley admitted that after a tough and emotional first month, it was time for several players to be rotated. With more than four months to go in the tournament, Foley knows that eventually key players, especially those involved in virtually 80 minutes of play week-in week-out, have to be either rested, or used off the bench.

When yesterday asked if he was considering ”resting and rotating players”, Foley replied: ”You will see this week that we’re probably looking at that in a couple of positions throughout the team.”

Pretorius was a standout in the opening three rounds, but was outplayed by the Force halfback Brett Sheehan last Saturday night, where he struggled with the physicality of the opposition onslaught. Nonetheless it would surprise many, in particular the Sharks, if McKibbin, rather than Pretorius, starts.

When Sharks coach John Plumtree was asked yesterday who were the most dangerous threats in the Waratahs team, he said: ”We know a fair bit about Sarel Pretorius, and his running game can be really effective. He is very quick.”

Chris Alcock is also likely to regain his openside breakaway position, while Sitaleki Timani is a strong chance to be part of the Waratahs back row after Dave Dennis sat out training for the second day in a row. Dennis, who has undergone a huge workload this season, is still certain to be part of the 22-man squad.

Waratahs winger Adam Ashley-Cooper provided the necessary pep talk by stating that after their dismal season start, how they ”bounced back” against the Sharks would ”define the character of this squad, and the character of the individuals”.

”I’m looking forward to getting out there and putting in a really good performance. Not only does this team deserve it, but so too do our supporters,” Ashley-Cooper said.

Added Waratahs prop Sekope Kepu: ”We can’t get any worse than we were last week, but the enthusiasm this week has been good.

”We did slip back against the Force, but we will improve. In this competition you just have to front up week-in, week-out. There is just no excuse for us having a game like that. We were mentally not switched on … and this week we really do have to muscle up.”

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/rugby-union/union-news/tahs-ready-to-bench-marquee-halfback-20120320-1vi1i.html#ixzz1pidlDHc4

‘Frustrated’ Whitehead left WP for successful team

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Former Western Province centre Tim Whitehead says he joined the Sharks largely due to his desire to join a union “that’s doing well and playing good rugby.”

Player contracting or cattle-trading?

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When you approach player contracting like cattle trading, expect to shuffle shit more than what you will count trophies.

The Lions roar again

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The MTN Golden Lions recorded the most emphatic Absa Currie Cup final victory since 1980 when they beat The Sharks, champions in 2010, by 42-16 at Coca-Cola Park in Johannesburg on Saturday.

Smit selected at prop

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Sharks coach John Plumtree delivered on his promise that captain John Smit will be used anywhere in the front row as when he picked him at loosehead for their clash against the Cheetahs this weekend.

Few injury concerns for Sharks

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The Sharks are in the enviable position of being almost 100% injury free prior to the start of the Super 15 rugby tournament.

Stormers the biggest losers

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It is not often that the losing coach is the happier one in the post-match press conference.

Plum opts for continuity

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Sharks coach John Plumtree made minimal changes for the last Neo-Africa Tri-series match at Newlands against the Stormers.

Results are vital

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If you believe results in warm-up games don’t mean anything, I am afraid you are slightly deluded.

Coetzee snubs Cronje (again)

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Stormers coach, Allister Coetzee has decided to stick with young Gary van Aswegen in the flyhalf position when he selected his team for their warm-up match against the Sharks this Saturday.

Sharks bring out big guns

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The Sharks have whipped out their big guns in their opening match of the Neo-Africa Tri-Series at Newlands.

Beast to remain a Shark

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The tug-o’-war between the Sharks and Lions, for the services of Springbok prop Tendai Mtawarira, has finally come to an end.

Succeeding to fail

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The time to feel sorry for the Freestate Cheetahs has to come to an end, they have no-one but themselves to blame for their ongoing problems.

Mapoe finally back on the pitch

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Lionel Mapoe’s Cheetahs and Sharks jerseys have perhaps sat a little uncomfortably on his broad shoulders in the last few months, but this fine player will feel quite at home when he puts on his Bok Sevens practice jersey.

A rucking good victory

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If anything, the Sharks Currie Cup success has allowed me to revisit a favourite old topic of mine.

This is what wins Cups

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The difference between a team totally reliant on individual performances, and a team reliant on total team-effort, is a Currie Cup title.

“As brutal as test rugby” – Craig Joubert

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“As brutal, as intense as any top tier Test match I have refereed.” That was the opinion of Craig Joubert, the man with the best view of the Currie Cup final between the Sharks and Western Province. “The defensive hits going in were huge – the commitment was incredible.”

The Final: Sharks 30 WP 10

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Forget all the cliches you have heard this week. It is going to be ‘war’ between the Sharks and Western Province in Durban on Saturday.

Super Saturday

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If you have anything planned for today, cancel it!  Apart from the Currie Cup final there is a massive amount of rugby on television today which we have opened this thread for you to follow the games and comment on.

Shark predicts WP win

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A different type of Sharks has predicted a Western Province win in the Currie Cup final this weekend.

WP aims for rare treble

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WP Rugby will aim for a rare treble this coming weekend as three teams from the Cape will contest in their respective finals.
All WP sides announced

ABSA terminates sponsorship with Sharks

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The Sharks have announced that ABSA have terminated an 11 year association with them, having decided to drop the current sponsorship as stadium naming rights-holder which they have held since 2000.

Lions snap up two Sharks

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Two of the exciting young talents to come through the Sharks system over the past few years have been released from their contracts and will be linking up with the Lions in 2011.

Lambie’s time to shine?

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Sharks coach John Plumtree is not at all concerned about the ability of rookie flyhalf Patrick Lambie to handle the pressure of Saturday’s Currie Cup final.

Another final, same result?

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Western Province are once again a team capable of reaching finals, but the final building block in the revival of the Cape rugby union is to start winning those games.

Sharks, WP – a fitting final

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What a fantastic advertisement for South African rugby! 

The ticker of a champion

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It may be the ignorance of youth, but given the sideshows with certain players in the last 18 months it is refreshing to see a brilliant young talent taking everything in his stride.

Matfield error cost Blue Bulls

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Blue Bulls captain Victor Matfield definitely made an error of judgement in Saturday’s Currie Cup semi-final against the Sharks, two former Springboks believe.

Sharks 16, Blue Bulls 12 – SF 1

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Coaches tend to give away as little as possible before big play-off matches, but if you listen (or read) carefully, they drop plenty of hints.

Sharks retain top talent

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The Sharks have announced that in the long term, depth in all positions is well-covered as the core of the current team have committed to staying in Durban for the foreseeable future, writes Sharks website editor, Michael Marnewick.

Lambie back at 10 for Sharks

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Sharks coach John Plumtree called back some big guns but also made some surprising ommissions for his side semi-final clash in Durban on Saturday.

Blue Bulls bench Bok Spies

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Blue Bulls coach Frans Ludeke has included Springbok eighthman Pierre Spies and flank Deon Stegmann in his list of replacements for Saturday’s Currie Cup semi-final against the Sharks in Durban on Saturday.

WP 33, Sharks 21

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Strap yourself in for a rip-roaring ride as the Currie Cup league stages come to a dramatic end – with the last match of the weekend set to decide the final standings.

Lambie at 15, Pretorius at 10 for Sharks

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The Sharks travel to Cape Town this weekend to take on Western Province in the final pool match of the Currie Cup ahead of next week’s semi-finals with top spot already buttoned down but a good performance wanted for continuity.

Jean wings it

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Springbok centre Jean de Villiers will play on the right wing for Western Province in their Currie Cup clash against the Sharks at Newlands on Saturday.

Petoors to start against WP?

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It looks like Springbok Andre Pretorius, and not Patrick Lambie, will start at flyhalf for the Sharks against Western Province in the ABSA Currie Cup league match in Cape Town.

Leopards 6, Sharks 63

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With the Sharks having already secured their place in the 2010 Currie Cup play-offs, it is now all about ensuring they finish top of the standings in order to play at home in the semifinals and, possibly, in the final too.

Mapoe ordered back to Bloem

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Free State Cheetahs wing Lionel Mapoe, was on Wednesday ordered by a Bloemfontein court to report at the Cheetahs by Thursday 15:00.

John confirms Sharks contract extension

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John Smit finally confirmed that he has resisted tempting offers from the Lions to extend his contract with the Sharks.

Lions 22, Sharks 20

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CURRIE CUP LOG UP TO DATE

The Lions may find the Sharks in a very unforgiving mood when the two teams go head-to-head in the match of the week, as the Currie Cup competition enters the home stretch.

Pumas 14, Sharks 30

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HALFTIME: 14-27

The Pumas, adamant that a top six finish is still within their grasp, hope to inflict a second consecutive defeat on the table-topping Sharks.

Plum and Vermeulen gets Currie Cup awards

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The Sharks coach John Plumtree and Vodacom Western Province loose forward Duane Vermeulen on Tuesday received the Absa Coach and Player of the Month awards for August at a ceremony held in Durban.

Blue Bulls 40, Sharks 34

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Blue Bulls coach Frans Ludeke put it in a nutshell this week when he said: “It is time for us to stamp our authority on the competition.”

Andre Pretorius on bench for Sharks

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Andre Pretorius has been named on the bench for the Sharks as they prepare to face the Blue Bulls this weekend in Pretoria.

Blue Bulls team named for Sharks clash

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The Vodacom Blue Bulls have recalled their regular number eight, Gerrit-Jan van Velze, to the starting line-up for their Absa Currie Cup clash against the Natal Sharks in Pretoria on Saturday.

Sharks 27, WP 16

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First place on the standings at the halfway stage of the season. That is just one of the rewards for the winner of the Currie Cup competition’s match of the weekend.

Div to intervene in Mapoe saga

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Springbok coach Peter de Villiers wants to intervene in the Lionel Mapoe saga.

Kockett to WP, Hoffmann to Sharks?

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The Sharks seem to be taking a lot of flak for moving Patrick Lambie around the backline, so there is some irony in the prospect that Conrad Hoffmann could be wearing the Western Province No 15 jersey against them in Saturday’s top of the table Currie Cup clash at Absa Stadium.