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Moodie to start as Boks make several changes for Sydney

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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.

Damian Willemse moves from fullback to flyhalf on Saturday.

Damian Willemse moves from fullback to flyhalf on Saturday.

“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.

Jasper Wiese is back at No 8.

Jasper Wiese is back at No 8.

“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)

Replacements:

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%. 

Milestones:

  1. Malcolm Marx is the top try scorer in the squad against Australia with three tries in seven Test matches.
  2. 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.

Miscellaneous:

  1. The total Test caps for the Springbok starting line-up is
  2. There are 257 caps in the backline with 470 caps amongst the forwards. On the bench there are a further 264
  3. The average caps per player in the backline are 36, the forwards 58, while the players on the bench average 33.

Content & Images from – South Africa Rugby


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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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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