Talented young utility back Canan Moodie will make his Springbok debut against Australia in Sydney in the Castle Lager Rugby Championship on Saturday as injuries and the desire to try a few new player combinations saw head coach Jacques Nienaber include eight new players in the starting team.
Handre Pollard, Lukhanyo Am and Pieter-Steph du Toit were all ruled out due to knee injuries, while Elton Jantjies injured his hand and was not available for selection this weekend, which means Damian Willemse will move from fullback to flyhalf, Jesse Kriel will slot in at centre, and Franco Mostert has been included in the loose trio.
The 19-year-old Moodie earns his first start on the right wing in a positional switch with Warrick Gelant, who has been named among the replacements, while the experienced Willie le Roux will take Willemse’s place at fullback, with the other change in the backline at scrumhalf, where Jaden Hendrikse takes over from Faf de Klerk.
Apart from Mostert’s inclusion among the forwards, prop Steven Kitshoff and hooker Malcolm Marx earn starts in a new-look front row with Frans Malherbe, while Jasper Wiese takes over at No 8 from Duane Vermeulen, who will provide an impact off the replacements bench.
These changes see a reshuffle of the front row on the bench, with Deon Fourie serving as the replacement hooker, and Ox Nche and Trevor Nyakane providing cover at prop.
Among the backs, Cobus Reinach will serve as back-up for Hendrikse at scrumhalf, with Frans Steyn providing cover flyhalf and centre, while Gelant will offer options on the wing and fullback.
“We selected a team we thought would be best for this match given that we have several players out with injuries and with an eye on how we want to play,” said Nienaber.
“Handre, Lukhanyo, Elton and Pieter-Steph are all carrying injuries which adds to a list that includes Cheslin Kolbe and Sbu Nkosi, while Kurt-Lee Arendse is also out serving a suspension, and this has forced our hand to make a few changes in some positions.
“With both flyhalves injured, Damian was the natural choice at No 10 where he has slotted in for us a lot. He is also becoming a settled player in our team with over 20 Test caps to his name.
“This will also be a great test for Canan, who was a stand-out player for the Vodacom Bulls this season in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship. He’s a very talented player, who will enjoy this opportunity.”
Nienaber added: “Cobus at his best is world class and having seen what he offers us at training we think he’s close to that form. With him, Warrick and Frans Steyn on the bench we have sufficient cover among the backs.”
Commenting on the changes among the forwards Nienaber said: “With Bongi (Mbonambi) and Trevor injured in the last few weeks we were in a position where we could test other combinations and we got some good answers in that regard.
“This weekend we opted to make a few switches with Ox and Trevor playing off the bench along with Deon Fourie. With Bongi and Malcolm both settled with over 50 Test caps each, it was always our plan to give Joseph (Dweba) and Deon a chance at hooker, and this week Deon gets a run.”
Zoning in on the match itself, Nienaber said: “We had a thorough review of our performance against Australia last week, and the most disappointing aspect is that were dominant in several areas of the game, but we struggled to show that on the scoreboard.
“This week is a final for us to stay in the competition and we are expecting Australia to be just as desperate, but so are we.
“We let ourselves down in the last two games and we are determined to rectify that this week and change our fortunes in Australia. We’ll prepare as well as possible this week to stay in the hunt for the title,” he added.
Springbok team to face Australia in Sydney:
15 – Willie le Roux (Toyota Verblitz) – 76 caps, 65 pts (13t)
14 – Canan Moodie (Vodacom Bulls) – uncapped
13 – Jesse Kriel (Canon Eagles) – 53 caps, 60 pts (12t)
12 – Damian de Allende (Wild Knights) – 63 caps, 35 pts (7t)
11 – Makazole Mapimpi (Cell C Sharks) – 30 caps, 105 pts (21t)
10 – Damian Willemse (DHL Stormers) – 21 caps, 12 pts (1t, 2c, 1p)
9 – Jaden Hendrikse (Cell C Sharks) – 7 caps, 5 pts (1t)
8 – Jasper Wiese (Leicester Tigers) – 15 caps, 0 pts
7 – Franco Mostert (Honda Heat) – 56 caps, 5pts (1t)
6 – Siya Kolisi (captain, Cell C Sharks) – 68 caps, 35 pts (7t)
5 – Lood de Jager (Wild Knights) – 61 caps, 25 pts (5t)
4 – Eben Etzebeth (Cell C Sharks) – 103 caps, 15 pts (3t)
3 – Frans Malherbe (DHL Stormers) – 51 caps, 5 pts (1t)
2 – Malcolm Marx (Kubota Spears) – 52 caps, 55 pts (11t)
1 – Steven Kitshoff (DHL Stormers) – 64 caps, 5 pts (1t)
16 – Deon Fourie (DHL Stormers) – 1 cap, 0pts
17 – Ox Nche (Cell C Sharks) – 12 caps, 0pts
18 – Trevor Nyakane (Racing 92) – 57 caps, 5pts (1t)
19 – Kwagga Smith (Shizuoka Blue Revs) – 24 caps, 15 pts (3t)
20 – Duane Vermeulen (Ulster) – 63 caps, 15 pts (3t)
21 – Cobus Reinach (Montpellier) – 21 caps, 40pts (8t)
22 – Frans Steyn (Toyota Cheetahs) – 75 caps, 150 pts (11t, 7c, 24p, 3d)
23 – Warrick Gelant (Racing 92) – 11 caps, 15 pts (3t)
Springbok record against the Wallabies in Australia:
Played 42; Won 12; Lost 28; Drawn 2; Points for: 702, Points against: 925; Tries scored 82, Tries conceded 94; Highest score 38-12 in Brisbane (2013); Biggest win 26 points in Brisbane (2013). Win % 28,6%.
- Malcolm Marx is the top try scorer in the squad against Australia with three tries in seven Test matches.
- Siya Kolisi has played 38 Tests as captain, making him the second most capped Springbok captain behind John Smit, who led the team in 83 Tests.
- The total Test caps for the Springbok starting line-up is
- There are 257 caps in the backline with 470 caps amongst the forwards. On the bench there are a further 264
- The average caps per player in the backline are 36, the forwards 58, while the players on the bench average 33.
Munster Confirm Three New Signings
Munster Rugby and the IRFU are pleased to confirm the signing of Oli Jager from the Crusaders with the tighthead prop signing a contract until the summer of 2027.
Hooker Eoghan Clarke is rejoining Munster on a short-term contract with back three player Colm Hogan also returning on a short-term deal.
Jager will join the province in the coming weeks with his contract beginning at the start of December.
Born in London, Jager started out at Naas RFC before playing schools rugby at Newbridge College and Blackrock College. He lined out for the Ireland U18 Schools team in 2013 before moving to Canterbury in New Zealand at the age of 17.
Initially attending the Crusaders International High Performance Unit, he earned a place in the Crusaders Academy in 2014. After impressing with New Brighton RFC, he earned a place in the Canterbury squad for the Mitre 10 Cup in 2016.
Jager made his Super Rugby debut for the Crusaders in 2017 and has been a key member of their squad for the past seven years, winning seven consecutive Super Rugby titles.
Eoghan Clarke spent three years in the Munster Academy before departing for Jersey Reds in March 2021. A former Ireland U20 international, Clarke won the English Championship with Jersey Reds last season before the club went into liquidation last month.
Colm Hogan, who has lined out for Ireland U20 and Munster A in the past, played his schools rugby with Glenstal Abbey. He captained Dublin University in the AIL and also had a spell with Colomiers in the PRO D2 while studying in France.
The 26-year-old played for Leinster against Chile last year and lined out with recent Munster arrival Alex Nankivell for Tasman Mako in the NPC this year.
Images & Content from Irish Rugby & Images © Inpho Photography
Key All Black announces sabbatical to play in Japan
All Blacks captain Sam Cane will take up a sabbatical option in his New Zealand Rugby (NZR) contract in 2024 to play a season for Suntory in Japan League One.
The 31-year-old, 95-Test loose forward will miss the 2024 DHL Super Rugby Pacific season with the Chiefs, but will return to New Zealand in June to be available for selection to the All Blacks for the 2024 Steinlager Series and Rugby Championship campaign.
Cane, who is contracted to NZR through to the end of 2025, said he was looking forward to experiencing a new playing environment with Suntory and learning more about a new culture in Japan.
“When the opportunity to play for Suntory in 2024 came up it felt like the right time following the Rugby World Cup to try something new and also a great chance to continue to grow and learn in my rugby and life journey. I’m grateful to New Zealand Rugby for their support to take this opportunity.
“It wasn’t an easy decision to skip a season with the Chiefs, but I know the team is in a great place and has an incredible group of leaders in the squad and the coaching group to have a successful 2024, and I’m really pleased to be able to return in time to put my best foot forward for selection in the All Blacks.”
NZR CEO Mark Robinson said:
“Sam’s decision to take a sabbatical in 2024 has our full support and we wish him and his family all the best for their time in Japan. There are very few players who have given as much as he has to the jerseys he’s worn in his career to date and it’s a mark of his commitment to the All Blacks that he will return and make himself available for the Test season.”
Gallagher Chiefs Head Coach Clayton McMillan said:
“Sam has given everything to this team on and off the field and deserves to take this opportunity to experience something different. He is an exceptional player and influential leader who has been an integral part of the Gallagher Chiefs for many years. We wish him and his family all the best and hope they enjoy their time in Japan after a full-on year.”
Key All Black commits to Gallagher Chiefs until 2025
Dominant loose forward Luke Jacobson has extended his contract with the Gallagher Chiefs, Waikato and New Zealand Rugby until the end of 2025.
The 18-test All Black was a consistent starter for the Gallagher Chiefs this year and a key element of their outstanding DHL Super Rugby Pacific performances. He consequently went on to be named in the All Blacks squad to travel to France.
Gallagher Chiefs head coach Clayton McMillan is delighted to have Jacobson sticking around for another two seasons.
“Luke is an outstanding player; he’s a workhorse, a consistent performer and considered a real warrior within our group. Luke leads by example both on and off the field. He isnt one to waste words and prefers to let his actions speak for themself. In the absence of some senior players who have moved on, I have no doubt Luke will play an integral part providing the leadership and guidance our younger players will be looking for”.
Jacobson has impressed throughout his career, playing for the New Zealand U20s team twice and captaining them in his second season to win the 2017 U20 World Championship title. This aptitude for leadership has seen him pull on the Gallagher Chiefs captain’s armband on multiple occasions.
Waikato Rugby head coach Ross Filipo is excited about Luke extending his career with Waikato. “He is a great man and a great leader who continues to make huge contributions on and off the field and always represents the region with pride.”
Speaking on his signing Jacobson said: “I’m stoked to signing on with the Waikato, Chiefs and NZR for another two years. I love representing these teams and am very proud to be able to call myself a Waikato/Chiefs man and also and All black. I’m hungry to succeed with these teams and tick off a few unticked boxes.”
The 2024 Gallagher Chiefs squad will be named later this year ahead of assembling for pre-season training.