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27
MAR

Fassi feeling at home in Super Rugby and looks to build on first 50 minutes

Sharks fullback Aphelele Fassi has adjusted quickly to Super Rugby since making his debut in the competition last month. It has only been a few months since the 20-year-old from King Williams Town in the Eastern Cape played his first Currie Cup game as the Sharks went on to win the competition last October. He returned from a three-week injury lay-off last week to help the Sharks beat the Rebels at Kings Park. With 50 minutes under his belt, Fassi will be hoping to play an influential role when the Sharks host the Bulls this Saturday.
22
MAR

Esterhuizen says Sharks ready to bounce back after good week of prep ahead of Rebels tie

Andre Esterhuizen returns to the Sharks line-up to face the Rebels at Kings Park this weekend. The Springbok centre watched on from the bench as the Bulls dominated the Sharks at Loftus two weeks ago, by the time Esterhuizen came on the damage was already done with the Pretoria side eventually winning by a 23-point margin. The 24-year-old says the Sharks enjoyed a good week of preparation and are ready to bounce back in front of their home fans.
21
MAR

Bulls without Gelant and Human wary of dangerous Chiefs team

The Bulls will be without Springbok fullback Warrick Gelant when they take on the Chiefs in their Super Rugby encounter at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday. Gelant suffered a shoulder injury at training on Tuesday and has been replaced by Divan Rossouw while former captain Burger Odendaal returns at inside centre in place of Dylan Sage who drops to the bench. Bulls coach Pote Human has also made some changes to his loose forward trio with Ruan Steenkamp coming back from injury and Jannes Kirsten moving to blindside flank in place of Tim Agaba who drops to the bench. Human admits that he is wary of the Chiefs hitting their straps on Saturday as the two time Super Rugby champions have endured a horrid start to the season losing two matches and drawing their last one against the Hurricanes last weekend. Human believes the Chiefs are not far away from finding their best form.
19
MAR

Bulls high on confidence but will face stern test against Chiefs as Liebenberg contemplates future in France

Bulls utility forward and former Junior Springboks captain Hanro Liebenberg believes their win over the Sharks a fortnight ago was a timely confidence boost ahead of their home game against the Chiefs. While the Chiefs have struggled since the beginning of Super Rugby, Liebenberg is of the opinion that they will face a stern challenge against the New Zealand side and two time champions. Liebenberg says he is unsure on whether he will return to France at the end of the year when his contract with the Bulls expires but admits that he still harbours ambitions to stay in the capital. Liebenberg spent a few months on loan to French Top 14 side Stade de Francais during the Super Rugby off season playing under former Springbok and Bulls coach Heyneke Meyer. Liebenberg’s older brother and also a former Junior Springboks captain Wian has been plying his trade in France for a number of years after leaving the Bulls to join Montpellier. Having recently moved to lock from loose forward, Liebenberg admits that he will be facing his toughest test when playing against All Blacks and Chiefs lock Brodie Retallick and is hopeful that it will bring out the best in him. Liebenberg believes that his ability to play in multiple positions in the pack is a huge benefit to the team and he now doesn’t mind where he plays as long as he contributes to the team’s success. Liebenberg started playing lock during his brief stint in the Top 14.
14
MAR

Stormers make four changes for tomorrow’s game

The Stormers have made four changes to the team that beat the Sharks two weeks ago, as they prepare to take on the Jaguares at Newlands Rugby Stadium tomorrow night. In naming the team, Stormers coach Robbie Fleck has made three changes to the forward pack with Steven Kitschoff, Scara Ntubeni and Juarno Augustus included, while Dillyn Leyds returns in the full back position.
08
MAR

Sharks braced for massive physical battle against Bulls -Schoeman

Flank Juan Schoeman says the Sharks are to ready to front up to the Bulls tomorrow afternoon. The Durban side got the better of Pote Human’s side in a pre-season friendly last month, but with the competition heading into its fourth round, this weekend’s clash will be a completely different challenge. Schoeman expects a huge difference in physicality and implored his side to step up their intensity. The Sharks were brought down to earth last weekend after they were beaten by the Stormers in their own backyard. Schoeman says it was a defeat that hurt the team and the forward pack in particular. He believes a big South African derby presents the perfect opportunity for them to bounce back. The two teams were involved in a thrilling contest at Loftus last year which the Bulls won by a 39-33 score-line. Sharks captain, Louis Schreuder who will earn his 100th cap this weekend expects another tight encounter and says there is no need for extra-motivation.
08
MAR

De Bruin looks to youth to get Lions through difficult times in Super Rugby

Lions coach Swys de Bruin says the plethora of changes he has made are largely rotational with many senior players out of form. De Bruin has placed his faith in a group of young players which include Junior Springbok sensation Wandisile Simelane starting at outside centre, Ruan Vermaak at lock and Vincent Tshituka at flank while Nathan McBeth, James Venter and Tyrone Green will start on the bench in Saturday’s Super Rugby clash against the Jaguares. De Bruin admits that he would have loved to see his team have more points than the five that they currently have and in a better place than their lowly fifth place in the South African conference. However, De Bruin believes that the Lions are entering a new phase in their development which includes blooding in youngsters and that will have an impact on results. The Lions have only won one of their three games so far and have suffered consecutive defeats in just as many weeks recently. De Bruin says there is no panic yet within the Lions ranks and rather there is a sense of excitement as the team tries to get through the difficult part of their season. De Bruin is hopeful that the lessons learnt during these difficult times will stand the team in good stead for the future.
08
MAR

Playing for the Women Blitzbokke is a dream come true – Ndou

At the tender age of 19, Vhugala Voice Ndou is enjoying her game as a professional rugby player. Ndou plays for the University of Johannesburg's Sevens rugby team and has proven her tremendous talents over the past year. Touted as one for the future, Ndou was part of the Women’s Blitzbokke camp for the HSBC Dubai Sevens tournament in December. She was also part of the side when they beat Tukkies Women’s Sevens team in the final of the Tuks Sevens tournament this past weekend. Ndou says there is no turning back for her now. Ndou is undoubtedly an inspiration to young South Africans who need a little motivation to live their dreams in the rigorous and often male-dominated sport of rugby. She says she is not allowing her background to hold her back. With her sights set on a lengthy fruitful rugby career, Ndou says that besides turning out for the national team she is targeting a place in the University Sport South Africa squad for the World Student Games in Italy in July this year. The BA student, who is in the final year of her studies looks back on her journey with pride. Unlike their male counterparts who enjoy immense covering and immeasurable spotlight, Ndou says playing rugby as a woman is challenging as people do not support their craft.
07
MAR

Rassie Erasmus explains SA Rugby's contract overhaul

South African rugby announced last week that there would be a radical overhaul to the contracting system in place, as they look to build a succession plan going forward. With a number of players leaving the country every year to play in overseas leagues, amongst the changes SA Rugby has decided to scrap the rule that stipulates players overseas must have earned 30 or more caps, while the plan is also to contract a larger group of players, rather than just a small high profile group. Springbok rugby coach Rassie Erasmus says they needed to overhaul the current system. Erasmus explains that it is impossible to compete with the money available overseas, so they need to spread their budget. Erasmus says he and his fellow selectors will be identifying the players needed to be contracted, using a ranking system for each position. Meanwhile Erasmus also explains why SA Rugby are going to enforce Regulation 9, which deal with how often club players must be released for international duty. Erasmus says that international clubs will now know before they sign a South African player where they stand with SA Rugby.
06
MAR

Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus hosts alignment camp in Cape Town with select Stormers players

Springbok rugby coach Rassie Erasmus spent the past few days in Cape Town, as he and his technical staff hosted an alignment camp with select players from the Stormers. With the Rugby World Cup later this year, Erasmus will be hosting these camps with all the Super Rugby franchises. Erasmus says it may still be early doors, but he has already made some interesting observations during the first three weeks of the Super Rugby season as they monitor the players who are expected to be part of his Springbok World Cup squad.
05
MAR

Proposed World Rugby League will have negative impact on rugby - Mtawarira

Springbok legend Tendai Mtawarira says a threat by Pacific Island rugby nations to pull out of the World Cup will be a major blow for the region. Samoa, Tonga and Fiji are protesting a proposal by World Rugby to establish a 12-team league to begin next year, which will allegedly exclude the trio. All three nations have qualified for the World Cup in Japan later this year and the Pacific Rugby Players Welfare wants its 600 members to discuss a motion to make themselves unavailable for the global showpiece. Veteran South Africa prop Mtawarira says the news is not good for the sport. If the league materialises, it will comprise of teams from the Rugby Championship, Six Nations as well as Japan and the United States of America, leaving the Pacific Islands bereft of test rugby for the foreseeable future. It will also present a demanding playing and travel schedule for teams and will impact on the Rugby Championship and Six Nations, which may be cut to a single round. The format will see the top teams compete in semi-finals and a final, resulting in five weeks of consecutive action for some players. Mtawarira believes it will affect players’ well-being. Mtawarira, who boasts over 107 test caps, says if the tournament goes ahead the Springboks will simply have to adapt. Over the years there has been a number of changes to the formats of Super Rugby and the Rugby Championship forcing teams to adjust
05
MAR

We need to build experience and we'll get better as the season goes - Neil Powell

Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell says it is a matter of importance that he hands the next generation of Sevens players more game time so as to build more experience in the side. Powell was speaking after his side’s poor showing at the Las Vegas leg of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series. Powell emphasized the need to give more opportunities to the youngsters instead of being overly reliant on senior players. Even though the Blitzbokke were knocked out in the quarter-finals of the Cup competition and are now languishing in fifth spot on the series log, Powell says he is pleased with the progression the team has made since the beginning of the season even though the results tell a different story. Powell admits that there are many areas that his team will need to improve on ahead of the Vancouver tournament next weekend but that he will need to find a balance between keeping the players fresh and getting training done this week. Zain Davids and Kurt-Lee Arendse have been called up to the team as replacements for the injured Ryan Oosthuizen and Mfundo Ndhlovu.

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