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Discipline and focus key as Boks prepare for Wallabies outing

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In the Castle Lager Rugby Championship match between South Africa and Australia on Saturday, Springbok captain Siya Kolisi stressed the importance of remaining disciplined and focused for the full 80 minutes.

Springbok assistant coach Mzwandile Stick, who played at the Adelaide Oval in his days as a Blitzbok, also stressed the importance of being mentally switched on until the final whistle, saying the Wallabies have shown that they are a force to be reckoned with at home.

“All our attention has been on Australia in the last two weeks and we also looked at their matches against Argentina, so we know what to expect from them,” said Kolisi.

“We have prepared well, we know what they are going to bring, and we know what we must improve on going into the game, so it’s going to be a big challenge.”

Kolisi added: “We had a meeting with the referee (Paul Williams from New Zealand), and we understand what he is looking for in the match, and as a team discipline will be key.

“We’ve conceded about seven penalties a match in the last few games, and we know it is going to be a vital area given the small margins in Test rugby, so the entire squad know that they have to stay disciplined for the full 80 minutes.”

Stick was wary of the threat the hosts posed and said: “If we don’t pitch up mentally, we will be punished. We watched the match between Argentina and Australia two weeks ago and we know it will be the same for both teams this week.

“We need to be ready mentally and physically, and if we do that, hopefully the scoreboard will take care of itself.”

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Commenting on playing at the Adelaide Oval – the first Test the Boks will play at this venue in South Australia – Stick spoke highly of the quality of the pitch and said it brought back fond memories from his Blitzbok days.

Mzwandile Stick in action for the Blitzboks in Adelaide in 2009, when they won the World Series tournament.

“We had our captain’s run at the stadium and the pitch is looking good,” said Stick.

“I know the stadium well from my Springbok Sevens days, and it looks like weather-wise it is going to be a beautiful day. We know it is going to be a tough challenge, but we are excited.”

Of his experience playing at the stadium, Stick said: “This used to be a happy hunting ground for the Blitzboks, and Adelaide is a lot like Bloemfontein where we also enjoy a lot of support. With most of the Australian players also coming from the big cities, this will be new ground for both teams, so we are looking forward to the match.”

Zoning in on the game, Kolisi expected a big battle against the Wallabies loose trio and said: “They have strong loose forwards who have been playing well.

“A guy like Rob Valetini has also been playing particularly well, so we know it is going to be about who dominates at the breakdowns and in the set pieces, so we are expecting a big battle.”

Stick, meanwhile, hoped that the backline would have the opportunity to showcase their skills, especially with exciting play-maker Warrick Gelant getting an opportunity on the right wing in a back three with Makazole Mapimpi (left wing) and Damian Willemse (fullback).

“We have a game plan we want our players to bring their X-factor,” said Stick.

“Warrick and all the other players have the freedom to make decisions on the field and with him having played with Damian at the Stormers, we are hoping to see them combine well and show what makes them special.”

The match kicks off at 07h30 (SA time) and will be broadcast live on SuperSport.


International

Marshall primed for Crusaders coaching opportunity

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James Marshall couldn’t escape rugby’s draw after retiring from playing and failed in his promised avoidance of the coaching ranks.

The former Super Rugby title winner with the Hurricanes has fitted into coaching so well that he will spend 2023 as backs coach for the Crusaders in Super Rugby Pacific.

Auckland-born Marshall started his rugby career with Tasman, but when missing a place in the Super Rugby structure, in a team or wider training group, he had a chance as a 20-year-old to play in Italy with Zebre.

It proved a stimulating experience in coping with playing a different style of rugby at a different level.

He returned to New Zealand six months later for another three seasons with Tasman before getting a chance in the Hurricanes’ wider squad. He had spent four years trying to get a place in the Crusaders.

“I could never crack it as a player but I’m here now as a coach,” he said.

“It is surreal to be here now. When I finished rugby, I promised my wife I wouldn’t get into coaching. We had moved around so many times during my career, even when I was playing for the Hurricanes moving to Taranaki every six months.

“We worked it out there were well over 20 houses we lived in throughout my career so when I got to the end of it I did say I wouldn’t be chasing the coaching dream, and I wouldn’t be moving the family around any more.”

However, back in Nelson, he got the chance to work with Andrew Goodman and Shane Christie, which gave him coaching work where he had decided to settle.

“Then a couple of years later,, I get a call from Razor [Scott Robertson] and it really throws a spanner in the works for my wife and when I got the opportunity, it was a no brainer. It’s such a good opportunity for me to learn and see where coaching can now take me.”

He contacted David Havili to see if he felt Marshall could do the job asked of him as backs coach and to see if he would have the backing of the players.

Havili got back in touch to say how much he thought Marshall could add to the environment. He also contacted some of his Hurricanes contacts and admitted being surprised at how supportive they were.

The Crusaders were one of the most successful sides in the sport’s history, and looking from the outside while playing, he had always wondered what went on and how they did it.

“It’s been impressive. It’s a well-run ship. Razor does a great job. Scotty Hansen, the detail he has on the rugby programme. Tamati Ellison, some of his coaching, it’s all world-class.

“It’s been awesome for me as a young coach to witness these guys at work and try and learn as much as I can off them.

“There’s also the players. It’s a pretty impressive squad when you look at it on paper and the chance to work with some world-class athletes and try and teach them as much as I can, but also try and learn from them,” he said.

Content & Images from – New Zealand Rugby


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6 Nations

RTÉ And Virgin Media Confirm Details Of Free-To-Air Six Nations Coverage

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RTÉ and Virgin Media Television today announced details of its joint Guinness Six Nations coverage, where the action will be free-to-air for supporters in the Republic of Ireland.

Kicking off on Friday, 3 February, this year’s Six Nations coverage will include all fixtures from Ireland’s Men’s, Women’s and U20 tournaments.

The partnership will see all games equally aired across both broadcasters again this year.

The 2023 Men’s Six Nations will open with Ireland v Wales on Virgin Media One, followed by England v Scotland on RTÉ2. Ireland will then take on current champions France on Saturday, 11 February.

The TikTok Women’s Six Nations will begin on Sunday, 26 March with Wales v Ireland.

Speaking at this morning’s launch at the Aviva Stadium, presenters Jacqui Hurley and Joe Molloy were joined on stage by members of their broadcast teams this year including pundits Rob Kearney, Fiona Hayes (Virgin Media Television), and RTÉ’s Jamie Heaslip and Hannah Tyrrell.

RTÉ also confirmed that Irish international and Munster player Simon Zebo will be joining their punditry team.

Commenting, Head of RTÉ Sport, Declan McBennett said: “With this being a great year for rugby, there is added excitement about this year’s Six Nations which RTÉ is once again bringing to sports fans all over the country free-to-air along with Virgin Media Ireland as part of our historic partnership which we launched last year.

“It’s going to be a huge year for Irish rugby and we’re really looking forward to it.”

Images & Content from Irish Rugby & Images © Inpho Photography


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International

Statement on behalf of Dave Rennie

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Following Monday’s announcement Dave Rennie has issued the following statement.

“Firstly, I’d like to thank all of those who have reached out to Steph and I over the past 48 hours or so.

“The support has been immense and much appreciated from the more than 500 messages I’ve received from current and former players, coaches, administrators and friends both here and abroad.

“I’ve loved my time with the team. They’re outstanding young men who are keen to learn and prepared to work hard.

“The staff I worked with during my time with the Wallabies are some of the best in the world and they played a massive role in creating a quality environment and developing the depth of the playing group.

“I’d like to particularly thank those in the Australian Rugby community for their support of the team over the past three years and for all the words of encouragement when we have crossed paths in schools, on the training field or in airports around the country.

“I’m disappointed I won’t be able to see out my contract in the way I agreed to back in 2019 but leave knowing I had the full support of the playing group and the staff.

“I certainly felt we have made massive shifts over the past three years both on and off the field, which is off the back of a hell of a lot of hard work put in by good people.

“I wish Eddie, the staff and the team all the best in what’s a massive year, with the Rugby World Cup less than nine months away.”

Content & Images from – Australia Rugby


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