Kolbe returns in settled Bok team to face Ireland
Cheslin Kolbe will play his first Test at fullback when he makes a return to the Springbok team for the first time since July in a settled team to face the top-ranked team in the world, Ireland, at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on Saturday as Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber targets a strong start to the Castle Lager Outgoing Tour.
Kolbe, whose last Test was in the Castle Lager Incoming Series against Wales, will start in an exciting back three with Kurt-Lee Arendse and Makazole Mapimpi, while Jesse Kriel will pair up with Damian de Allende in an experienced midfield.
Damian Willemse will don the No 10 jersey in a halfback pairing with Jaden Hendrikse (scrumhalf), while Nienaber opted for Jasper Wiese at No 8 in a loose trio with Pieter Steph-du Toit and Siya Kolisi, given the physical challenge expected from the Irish forwards.
The front row features props Steven Kitshoff and Frans Malherbe and hooker Malcolm Marx, with Eben Etzebeth and Lood de Jager in the engine room, while the bench features a split of six forwards and two backs.
Bongi Mbonambi (hooker), Ox Nche and Vincent Koch (both props) will be joined by utility forwards Franco Mostert, Kwagga Smith and Deon Fourie as the forward replacements, while Faf de Klerk (scrumhalf) and Willie le Roux (fullback) will be the two backs on the bench.
“We selected a team we believe contains the best combinations to counter the threats posed by Ireland,” said Nienaber.
“Damian (Willemse) has done well for us at flyhalf, and he is continuing to grow as a player in that role, while we think Cheslin has the potential to add a new dimension to our game at fullback.
“He was sidelined for a while after breaking his jaw against Wales, but he has played four 80-minute matches for Toulon since returning to play, and we are confident that he will step up to the challenge.”
Nienaber said Kolbe will also provide flyhalf cover: “Cheslin has delivered star performances for his clubs in France at flyhalf, so he will slot in as a back-up flyhalf if necessary, while Faf is another option for us at No 10 as well.
“Damian Willemse can also move to inside centre if we need cover there, while Damian de Allende can play outside centre and Willie fullback, and this allowed us for us to opt for a six-two split on the bench.”
Nienaber expected a massive onslaught from Ireland and said his charges have to be prepared for an epic encounter.
“Ireland are the top ranked team in the world currently and they’ve shown in the past that they can be a force to reckoned with in Dublin,” said Nienaber.
“We last faced them on their home patch in 2017 and they beat us 38-3 in that match, and they also beat us here 29-15 in 2014 and they will draw confidence from that.
“Similarly, to us they will also view this as a vital clash with an eye on next year’s Rugby World Cup in France where we will cross paths in the pool stages.
“Obviously we are a long way out from the World Cup, but we have a limited number of matches left before the competition and the preparation doesn’t get better than playing a side we will face in the World Cup and the No 1 side in the world.
“This match is important for us for many reasons, one of which is to test our player combinations with the World Cup less than a year away.”
On the injury front, Nienaber said Sbu Nkosi (wing) and Marco van Staden (flanker), who suffered rib injuries in the Vodacom Bulls’ clash against the Cell C Sharks in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship on Sunday, would not join the squad and will not be replaced at this stage as there is sufficient cover in the touring group.
Springbok team to face Ireland in Dublin:
15 – Cheslin Kolbe (Toulon) – 20 caps, 50 pts (10t)
14 – Kurt-Lee Arendse (Vodacom Bulls) – 3 caps, 10 pts (2t)
13 – Jesse Kriel (Canon Eagles) – 56 caps, 60 pts (12t)
12 – Damian de Allende (Wild Knights) – 66 caps, 45 pts (9t)
11 – Makazole Mapimpi (Cell C Sharks) – 33 caps, 110 pts (22t)
10 – Damian Willemse (DHL Stormers) – 23 caps, 19 pts (1t, 4c, 2p)
9 – Jaden Hendrikse (Cell C Sharks) – 10 caps, 12 pts (2t, 1c)
8 – Jasper Wiese (Leicester Tigers) – 18 caps, 5 pts (1t)
7 – Pieter-Steph du Toit (Toyota Verblitz) – 64 caps, 15 pts (3t)
6 – Siya Kolisi (captain, Cell C Sharks) – 71 caps, 35 pts (7t)
5 – Lood de Jager (Wild Knights) – 64 caps, 25 pts (5t)
4 – Eben Etzebeth (Cell C Sharks) – 106 caps, 15 pts (3t)
3 – Frans Malherbe (DHL Stormers) – 54 caps, 5 pts (1t)
2 – Malcolm Marx (Kubota Spears) – 55 caps, 65 pts (13t)
1 – Steven Kitshoff (DHL Stormers) – 67 caps, 5 pts (1t)
16 – Bongi Mbonambi (Cell C Sharks) – 52 caps, 55 pts (11t)
17 – Ox Nche (Cell C Sharks) – 15 caps, 0 pts
18 – Vincent Koch (unattached) – 37 caps, 0 pts
19 – Franco Mostert (Honda Heat) – 59 caps, 10 pts (2t)
20 – Deon Fourie (DHL Stormers) – 3 caps, 0 pts
21 – Kwagga Smith (Shizuoka Blue Revs) – 27 caps, 15 pts (3t)
22 – Faf de Klerk (Canon Eagles) – 42 caps, 25 pts (5t)
23 – Willie le Roux (Toyota Verblitz) – 79 caps, 65 pts (13t)
Springbok record against Ireland:
Played 26; Won 18; Lost 7; Drawn 1; Points for: 506, Points against: 380; Tries scored 69, Tries conceded 35; Highest score 38-0; Biggest win 38 points. Win % 69%.
- Siya Kolisi is the second most capped Springbok captain, having led the team in 41 Tests.
- Eben Etzebeth is the second most capped Springbok lock with 106 Tests.
- Etzebeth will equal Tendai Mtawarira and CJ van der Linde’s record of seven Test matches against Ireland.
- The total Test caps for the Springbok starting line-up is 710.
- There are 211 caps in the backline with 499 caps amongst the forwards. On the bench there are a further 315 caps.
- The average caps per player in the backline are 30, the forwards 62, while the players on the bench average 39.
- Willie le Roux will play in his 80th Test match. He has played 75 as fullback, trailing the most capped fullback Percy Montgomery by 12 Tests in the No 15 jersey.
Scott Robertson appointed All Blacks Head Coach from 2024
Scott Robertson will become the All Blacks Head Coach from 2024.
The 48-year-old father of three was appointed following a robust interview process and will announce further key appointments to his coaching and management team in coming months before officially taking up his new role following the conclusion of the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
Robertson has been appointed for four years from 2024 through to the end of the 2027 Rugby World Cup and will succeed current All Blacks Head Coach Ian Foster, who will lead the All Blacks through the conclusion of the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France. Robertson’s appointment was confirmed at an NZR Board Meeting on Tuesday morning.
“It’s an honour to be named as the next All Blacks Head Coach,” Robertson said. “It’s a job that comes with a huge amount of responsibility, but I’m excited by the opportunity to make a contribution to the legacy of the black jersey. To represent your country, as a coach or player, is the ultimate honour in sport and it’s humbling to be given that opportunity. I can’t wait.”
Robertson, who played 23 Tests for the All Blacks as a loose forward between 1998 and 2002, has compiled an impressive coaching resume. Following, retirement from the professional game in 2007 Robertson commenced his coaching career with the Sumner Rugby Club in Christchurch, before moving into an Assistant role with Canterbury in 2008 and then taking over as Head Coach in 2013, where he went on to win three Premiership titles between 2013 and 2016,. He has guided the Crusaders to six consecutive Super Rugby titles as Head Coach since 2017. Prior, to that he coached New Zealand U20s to a Junior World Championship crown, and most recently he coached the famous Barbarians FC to a win over the All Blacks XV last year.
“Having significant time to plan for 2024 and beyond is crucial to setting the All Blacks up for success during the next World Cup cycle. I have a job to do with the Crusaders and that will be my main focus through to the completion of DHL Super Rugby, but I will now have the opportunity to work with NZR to get some key appointments in my coaching and management team finalised, so we can hit the ground running next year.“
NZR Board Chair Dame Patsy Reddy said:
“We were very happy with the calibre and quality and quality of the people involved and would like to thank all of those who took part in the process. The decision to appoint the next All Blacks Head Coach ahead of the Rugby World Cup was not taken lightly, but we believe it was the right decision for New Zealand Rugby and the All Blacks and will set the team up for future success.
“We congratulate Scott on his appointment and look forward to working together in 2024, but have also been clear that New Zealand Rugby’s full support this year will be focused on the current All Blacks coaching team as we look toward the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France.”
NZR Chief Executive Mark Robinson said:
“I’d like to congratulate Scott on his appointment. His coaching record speaks for itself in terms of success, but what came through strongly during the interview process was his innovative approach to the game, his passion for his players, and his desire to add to the All Blacks legacy. We firmly believe he is the right person to lead the team in 2024 and beyond.”
BIO – Scott Robertson
As a player Robertson was capped 23 times in Tests for the All Blacks as a loose forward between 1998 and 2002. He made his debut against Australia in Christchurch in 1998 and was a member of the 1999 Rugby World Cup squad, playing in a 101-3 pool win over Italy. He moved into coaching with the Sumner Rugby Club and quickly transitioned into the Canterbury NPC environment where he was part of the team that won five titles between 2008 and 2012. Robertson was then elevated to Head Coach where he guided the team to three NPC Premiership titles between 2013-2016. Even greater success followed in Super Rugby, where he has guided the Crusaders to six consecutive Super Rugby titles as Head Coach since 2017. In 2015, the New Zealand Under 20s won the Junior World Championship title with Robertson as Head Coach, and last year coached the famous Barbarians FC to a win over the All Blacks XV.
England side to face Ireland in Six Nations
Captain Owen Farrell will start at fly half, Manu Tuilagi returns to the side at inside centre with Henry Slade at outside centre. There is a first England start for Henry Arundell on the left wing, Anthony Watson is at right wing, and Freddie Steward is full back.
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In the forward pack Lewis Ludlam is named vice-captain and is flanker alongside Jack Willis. Alex Dombrandt is at No. 8. In the same front row that has started each game of the championship, vice-captain Ellis Genge and Kyle Sinckler are at prop and Jamie George is at hooker. David Ribbans starts at lock with Maro Itoje.
Dan Cole is in line to make his 100th appearance for England after being named as replacement. Cole made his England debut in the Six Nations in February 2010. He has gone on to play in three Rugby World Cups and has won three Guinness Six Nations titles.
Nick Isiekwe and Joe Marchant return to the bench, along with Jack Walker, Mako Vunipola, Ben Curry, Alex Mitchell and Marcus Smith.
“We travel to Dublin to face an Ireland team on Saturday that has the chance to secure a Grand Slam Championship victory at home for the first time” said Borthwick.
“We know that after the bitter disappointment of the display against an exceptional France team last week, we will have to be much improved to meet the challenge of playing the side presently ranked number one in the world.
“However, I have witnessed an England squad determined to make amends for the defeat at Twickenham, and I am confident that the team announced today will once again want to show the sort of resilience and attitude that brought us victory in Wales.”
Team to face Ireland
15. Freddie Steward
14. Anthony Watson
13. Henry Slade
12. Manu Tuilagi
11. Henry Arundell
10. Owen Farrell (C)
1. Ellis Genge (VC)
2. Jamie George
4. Maro Itoje
6. Lewis Ludlam (VC)
7. Jack Willis
16. Jack Walker
17. Mako Vunipola
18. Dan Cole
19. Nick Isiekwe
20. Ben Curry
21. Alex Mitchell
22. Marcus Smith
23. Joe Marchant
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Ireland Squad Named For Guinness Six Nations Super Saturday
Ireland will take on England at a sold-out Aviva Stadium on Saturday evening (Kick-off 5pm) for the chance to claim the Guinness Six Nations Championship title, the Triple Crown and a fourth Men’s Grand Slam title.
World Player of the Year Josh van der Flier will win his 50th cap on Saturday. He lines out in an unchanged back row as Caelan Doris is named to start alongside him and Peter O’Mahony.
In the front row, Dan Sheehan has been passed fit and will start with Andrew Porter and Tadhg Furlong on either side of the scrum. Rob Herring comes in on the bench in place of Ronan Kelleher.
Ryan Baird, who came on for the injured Iain Henderson in Scotland, will partner James Ryan in the second row with Kieran Treadwell named in the replacements.
Captain Johnny Sexton will be partnered at half-back by Jamison Gibson Park and Robbie Henshaw comes into the centre to play alongside Bundee Aki. The back three of Hugo Keenan, Mack Hansen and James Lowe start for a fifth consecutive Six Nations fixture.
Sexton equalled Ronan O’Gara’s Six Nations Championship all-time points scorer record (557 points) against Scotland and can become the outright top points scorer against England this weekend.
Jimmy O’Brien come into the match day 23 to join Cian Healy, Tom O’Toole, Jack Conan, Conor Murray and Ross Byrne who all featured last weekend in Murrayfield.
Ireland’s final game of the Championship will be broadcast live on VIRGIN and ITV television and RTE and BBCNI radio.
IRELAND Team (v England, 2023 Guinness Six Nations Championship, Aviva Stadium, Dublin, Saturday 18th March, 2023, KO 17.00 (IST))
15. Hugo Keenan (Leinster/UCD) 29 caps
14. Mack Hansen (Connacht/Corinthians) 13 caps
13. Robbie Henshaw (Leinster/Buccaneers) 61 caps
12. Bundee Aki (Connacht/Galwegians) 45 caps
11. James Lowe (Leinster) 19 caps
10. Johnny Sexton (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 112 caps (c)
9. Jamison Gibson Park (Leinster) 24 caps
1. Andrew Porter (Leinster/UCD) 52 caps
2. Dan Sheehan (Leinster/Lansdowne) 16 caps
3. Tadhg Furlong (Leinster/Clontarf) 64 caps
4. Ryan Baird (Leinster/Dublin University) 10 caps
5. James Ryan (Leinster/UCD) 52 caps
6. Peter O’Mahony (Munster/Cork Constitution) 93 caps
7. Josh van der Flier (Leinster/UCD) 49 caps
8. Caelan Doris (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 27 caps
16. Rob Herring (Ulster/Ballynahinch) 33 caps
17. Cian Healy (Leinster/Clontarf) 122 caps
18. Tom O’Toole (Ulster/Ballynahinch) 8 caps
19. Kieran Treadwell (Ulster/Ballymena) 10 caps
20. Jack Conan (Leinster/Old Belvedere) 37 caps
21. Conor Murray (Munster/Garryowen) 104 caps
22. Ross Byrne (Leinster/UCD) 18 caps
23. Jimmy O’Brien (Leinster/Naas) 4 caps
Images & Content from Irish Rugby & Images © Inpho Photography
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