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Five changes to SA ‘A’ team for Bristol clash

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South Africa ‘A’ head coach Mzwandile Stick made five changes to his starting team to face the Bristol Bears at Ashton Gate Stadium on Thursday, which includes Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu and Marco van Staden earning starts in a squad that feature 12 capped Springboks.

Feinberg-Mngomezulu joined the SA ‘A’ team in Bristol on Sunday after spending the last two weeks with the Boks in Dublin and Toulon respectively, while Van Staden joined the SA ‘A’ team after being ruled out of Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber’s original 35-man Castle Lager Outgoing Tour travelling squad due to a rib injury.

Feinberg-Mngomezulu replaces Johan Goosen at flyhalf in a new halfback pairing with Grant Williams, while the only other change among the backs is at fullback, where Gianni Lombard takes over from Aphelele Fassi, who injured an ankle injury in the team’s 28-14 defeat against Munster last Thursday.

The changes in the forward pack were at hooker, where Andre-Hugo Venter is named in place of Joseph Dweba, who is on standby for the Springbok squad, with Van Staden replacing Phepsi Buthelezi at flank.

Stick opted for a split of six forwards and two backs on the bench, where JJ Kotze (hooker), Mornay Smith, Simphiwe Matanzima (both props), Dan du Preez (utility forward), Sikhumbuzo Notshe, and Buthelezi (both loose forwards) will provide cover, with Sanele Nohamba and Goosen (utility backs).

“It was always our intention to give everyone in the squad game time on this tour to assess our player resources and see what the players have to offer at this level,” said Stick.

“This week we will hand a few different players starting berths as the demands are different on players from the starting team and the bench.

“This is a very talented group of players and they have had a little more time to gel in the last few days after having very little time together before the Munster game, and we are confident that this will show when they take the field against Bristol.

Marco van Staden has joined the SA 'A' squad in England and will start against Bristol on Thursday.

Marco van Staden has joined the SA ‘A’ squad in England and will start against Bristol on Thursday.

“One of the changes was obviously injury-enforced with Aphelele ruled out, and this offered us an opportunity give Sacha some game time after watching from the sidelines in the last two Bok Test matches. He has really impressed the Springbok coaching staff at training with his skills and enthusiasm and we saw what he produced for the Junior Springboks and DHL Stormers, so we are excited to see him playing flyhalf in this match.

“Joseph, meanwhile, is on standby for the Springboks depending on the injury status in their camp and this sees Andre-Hugo earn a start at hooker and JJ get a run off the bench.”

Stick expected another tough test against Bristol, although he said they would pose a different challenge to Munster.

“Bristol are coached by Pat Lam and with his New Zealand background, he enjoys skillful running rugby, so we are expecting the pace of this game to be faster,” said Stick.

“From our perspective, we also have exciting backs and mobile forwards, and they certainly have the ability to keep up with this and make their presence felt.”

Zoning in on their game Stick said: “We did several encouraging things on attack last week and our defence was solid at times, so the main aspects for us this week is to be a more cohesive unit on the field and to use the chances we create on attack.

“The weather conditions resulted in several knock-ons at crucial times on attack last week, and that cost us dearly, so we need to be more accurate at converting those chances into points this week.”

South Africa ‘A’ team to face Bristol:

15 – Gianni Lombard (Emirates Lions)
14 – Suleiman Hartzenberg (DHL Stormers)
13 – Henco van Wyk (Emirates Lions)
12 – Cornal Hendricks* (Vodacom Bulls)
11 – Leolin Zas (DHL Stormers)
10 – Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu (DHL Stormers)
9 – Grant Williams* (Cell C Sharks)

8 – Jean-Luc du Preez* (Sale Sharks)
7 – Elrigh Louw* (Vodacom Bulls)
6 – Marco van Staden* (Vodacom Bulls)
5 – Ruan Nortje* (Vodacom Bulls)
4 – Jason Jenkins* (Leinster)
3 – Thomas du Toit* (captain, Cell C Sharks)
2 – Andre-Hugo Venter (DHL Stormers)
1 – Ntuthuko Mchunu* (Cell C Sharks)

Replacements:

16 – JJ Kotze (DHL Stormers)
17 – Simphiwe Matanzima (Vodacom Bulls)
18 – Mornay Smith (Vodacom Bulls)
19 – Dan du Preez* (Sale Sharks)
20 – Sikhumbuzo Notshe* (Cell C Sharks)
21 – Phepsi Buthelezi (Cell C Sharks)
22 – Sanele Nohamba (Emirates Lions)
23 – Johan Goosen* (Vodacom Bulls)

*Denotes capped Springboks

Content & Images from – South Africa Rugby


6 Nations

‘It’s A Great Appointment’ – Farrell On Murphy’s Move To Ulster

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With Dan McFarland stepping down as Ulster head coach this week, it has been confirmed that Murphy will take over the role on an interim basis following the conclusion of the Under-20 Six Nations Championship.

The Ireland Under-20s are in title contention again thanks to two opening wins, with Murphy having overseen back-to-back U-20 Grand Slam successes and a World Rugby U-20 Championship final appearance in the last two seasons.

Farrell first worked alongside Murphy when they were defence coach and skills and kicking coach respectively, during Joe Schmidt’s coaching reign with Ireland.

The pair have kept up a strong connection with Murphy continuing for a short while as a specialist kicking resource for the senior squad, and the Under-20s often training with Farrell’s men during the Six Nations window.

“I think it’s a great appointment. I think Richie will do a fantastic job (at Ulster), his rugby knowledge is second to none,” commented Farrell.

“He is a very experienced guy that has been an assistant for quite some time and I know that he worked with us for a short period before we went to the Under-20s, but that was his next step to take that type of mantle on and do it his way.

He has certainly done a fantastic job. I mean, coaching the Under-20s is coaching in its purest form, it’s bloody difficult because of the swapping and changing the whole time each year.

“It shows exactly the quality that he’s got and his knowledge of the whole game. I think the players up at Ulster there will love him.

“His attitude is great but first and foremost I think they will respect his knowledge, definitely.”

McFarland was in charge of Ulster since 2018 and guided them to the PRO14 final two years later. They looked to be finding form again with a trio of wins over Racing 92, Connacht, and Leinster, coming into the New Year.

However, last Sunday’s poor 19-17 defeat at the Ospreys was their third loss in a row, leaving them eighth in the BKT United Rugby Championship, and came just a few weeks after failing to reach the last 16 of the Investec Champions Cup.

Assistant coach Dan Soper will take the reins for their next URC fixture at home to the Dragons on Saturday week, before Murphy comes on board for their two-match tour to South Africa where they will play the Hollywoodbets Sharks and the DHL Stormers.

The Bray man will have to quickly get up to the speed as the Ulstermen then travel to Montpellier in the EPCR Challenge Cup’s round of 16, just after Easter. Given the people involved, Farrell is confident they can turn things around at Kingspan Stadium.

“Look, it’s obvious that we want all the provinces playing at the top of their game. If that happens, it’s a special place to be but it doesn’t tend to happen that often, does it?

“One thing I know for sure is that Ulster have got a fantastic squad and good people up there. The lads that we have within our squad are exemplary to the province, as far as their attitudes are concerned whether they’re playing or not.”

A dislocated toe, suffered during that loss to the Ospreys, means Iain Henderson is unavailable for Ireland’s clash with Wales on Saturday. His Ulster colleague, Stuart McCloskey, is one of only two backs on the hosts’ bench as they opt to return to a six-two split.

New-look Wales, who lost their first two games to Scotland and England by a combined three points, come to Dublin with a squad that has accumulated 662 caps, compared to Ireland’s 1012.

119 of those caps are provided by George North alone, while 21-year-old Exeter Chiefs lock Dafydd Jenkins continues as captain, and Cardiff back rower Mackenzie Martin could make his debut off the bench.

Asked what he is expecting from Wales this weekend, Farrell replied: “Playing against Wales, you know it’s always going to be a scrap.

“You know that every single time Wales play against Ireland, it means probably a little bit more to them, I’ve been told (that) over the years.

“So we’re aware of that, and we also know as well that Wales historically have got better throughout the competition.

“We’re five weeks into it come the weekend, from when we first started training. We know that they’ll be better and hopefully we’ve used our time wisely as well.”

Images & Content from Irish Rugby & Images © Inpho Photography


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6 Nations

Wales team to face Ireland in Dublin named

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Senior men’s head coach Warren Gatland has named the Wales side to face Ireland at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin in the third round of the 2024 Guinness Six Nations on Saturday 24 February (KO 2.15pm live on ITV and S4C).

There is one change to the starting XV that played England at Twickenham on 10 February, with Sam Costelow returning for Wales at fly half.

Among the replacements back-row Mackenzie Martin is in line to win his first senior cap this weekend and would become the 1,200th Wales men’s international.

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Tight-head prop Dillon Lewis would be making his first appearance of this Championship if called on from the bench.

Gatland said: “We are excited to go out to Dublin and test ourselves against one of the leading sides in world rugby. It’s a challenge we are relishing.

“We’ve made steps in the last couple of games and now it’s about building on that, learning from those experiences and taking that into this weekend.

“It’s about continuing to work hard, looking for accuracy in our performance across 80 minutes and also keeping our discipline.”

Wales senior men’s team to play Ireland at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin in the Guinness Six Nations, Saturday 24 February KO 2.15pm GMT. Live on ITV and S4C.
15. Cameron Winnett (Cardiff Rugby – 2 caps)
14. Josh Adams (Cardiff Rugby – 56 caps)
13. George North (Ospreys – 119 caps)
12. Nick Tompkins (Saracens – 34 caps)
11. Rio Dyer (Dragons – 16 caps)
10. Sam Costelow (Scarlets – 9 caps)
9. Tomos Williams (Cardiff Rugby – 55 caps)
1. Gareth Thomas (Ospreys – 27 caps)
2. Elliot Dee (Dragons – 48 caps)
3. Keiron Assiratti (Cardiff Rugby – 4 caps)
4. Dafydd Jenkins (Exeter Chiefs – 14 caps) Captain / Capten
5. Adam Beard (Ospreys – 53 caps)
6. Alex Mann (Cardiff Rugby – 2 caps)
7. Tommy Reffell (Leicester Tigers – 15 caps)
8. Aaron Wainwright (Dragons – 45 caps)

Replacements

16. Ryan Elias (Scarlets – 40 caps)
17. Corey Domachowski (Cardiff Rugby – 8 caps)
18. Dillon Lewis (Harlequins – 54 caps)
19. Will Rowlands (Racing 92 – 30 caps)
20. Mackenzie Martin (Cardiff Rugby – uncapped)
21. Kieran Hardy (Scarlets – 19 caps)
22. Ioan Lloyd (Scarlets – 4 caps)
23. Mason Grady (Cardiff Rugby – 8 caps)

Images & Content – Wales Rugby


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6 Nations

Jager and Ahern Join Ireland Squad Ahead Of Wales

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The Ireland squad re-assembled in Dublin on Sunday evening ahead of this weekend’s Guinness Men’s Six Nations Round 3 clash against Wales at Aviva Stadium (Kick-off 2.15pm).

Prop Oli Jager has joined the squad and Thomas Ahern has also linked up with Andy Farrell‘s side at the IRFU High Performance Centre this week.

Iain Henderson picked up a foot injury during Ulster’s URC game away to Ospreys on Sunday and there will be a further update later in the week.

The Ireland Match Day Squad to face Wales at Aviva Stadium will be named on Thursday at 2pm.

Ireland Squad – Wales Week: 

Backs (15):

Bundee Aki (Galwegians/Connacht)
Harry Byrne (UCD/Leinster)
Craig Casey (Shannon/Munster)
Jack Crowley (Cork Constitution/Munster)
Ciaran Frawley (UCD/Leinster)
Jamison Gibson-Park (Leinster)
Robbie Henshaw (Buccaneers/Leinster)
Hugo Keenan (UCD/Leinster)
Jordan Larmour (St. Mary’s College/Leinster)
James Lowe (Leinster)
Stuart McCloskey (Bangor/Ulster)
Conor Murray (Garryowen/Munster)
Calvin Nash (Young Munster/Munster)
Garry Ringrose (UCD/Leinster)
Jacob Stockdale (Lurgan/Ulster)

Forwards (21):

Thomas Ahern (Shannon/Munster)*
Ryan Baird (Dublin University/Leinster)
Finlay Bealham (Buccaneers/Connacht)
Tadhg Beirne (Lansdowne/Munster)
Jack Conan (Old Belvedere/Leinster)
Caelan Doris (St. Mary’s College/Leinster)
Tadhg Furlong (Clontarf/Leinster)
Cian Healy (Clontarf/Leinster)
Iain Henderson (Academy/Ulster)
Oli Jager (Munster)*
Ronan Kelleher (Lansdowne/Leinster)
Jeremy Loughman (Garryowen/Munster)
Joe McCarthy (Dublin University/Leinster)
Peter O’Mahony (Cork Constitution/Munster)(captain)
Tom O’Toole (Ballynahinch/Ulster)
Andrew Porter (UCD/Leinster)
James Ryan (UCD/Leinster)
Dan Sheehan (Lansdowne/Leinster)
Tom Stewart (Ballynahinch/Ulster)
Nick Timoney (Banbridge/Ulster)
Josh van der Flier (UCD/Leinster)

*Denotes uncapped player

Images & Content from Irish Rugby & Images © Inpho Photography


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