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Nché, Wiese drafted in for Boks’ closing Rugby Champs clash

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(Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)

Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber made two injury-enforced changes to his matchday squad for their final Castle Lager Rugby Championship clash against the All Blacks in Gold Coast, with Ox Nché earning a starting berth and Jasper Wiese being drafted in among the replacements.

Nché will start at loosehead prop with Trevor Nyakane switching to tighthead after Frans Malherbe was ruled out of selection due to a neck niggle, while Wiese takes over from Marco van Staden, who suffered a shoulder injury in the latter stages of last week’s 19-17 defeat against the All Blacks in Townsville.

Cheslin Kolbe, who missed the team’s first two matches against the Wallabies and last week’s outing against the All Blacks due to a leg injury, trained with the team on Monday and Tuesday, but he was unable to complete the last training session, which dashed his hopes of making a comeback.

The match at the CBUS Super Stadium kicks off at 20h05 (09h05 SA time) and will be broadcast live on SuperSport.

“We made a big step-up in terms of our performance last week and having reviewed the match, there is no doubt we delivered a performance worthy of a victory,” said Nienaber.

“With that in mind we opted for continuity in our team, so the only change in the run-on side is Ox taking over in the front row after Frans was ruled out.

“Trevor is a seasoned campaigner who is equally comfortable at loosehead and tighthead prop, and Ox is a strong scrummager, so we are looking forward to seeing what they can do in the scrums.

“Cheslin would have started the match if he made a full recovery from the leg injury which has kept him out since the beginning of our Australian tour, but unfortunately his injury flared up during the latter stages of Tuesday’s field session, so we could not select him.

“On the bench, Jasper takes over from Marco, and we are fortunate in that they are similar in terms of their physicality and strong ball-carrying abilities.”

Nienaber stressed the importance of turning the corner after three successive defeats on tour and said the entire squad was aligned in terms of what their roles were to steer the team to a much-needed win.

Jasper Wiese in action against Argentina last month.

“We are bitterly disappointed about the results in the last few weeks and everyone in our team realises the importance of finishing the Castle Lager Rugby Championship on a winning note,” said Nienaber.

“Every member of squad will have a role to play in ensuring that the players on the field are at their best on match-day, and we have no doubt that if we can build on the strong points of our game last week and improve further on the execution of our game plan, we can get the desired result.

“We know it is going to take a colossal 80-minute effort, but the drive to succeed and motivation to win this weekend is as big as it gets.

“Last week we stuck to our DNA and style of play, and with a little more luck we could have come away with the result, so we need to ensure that we are better at it this week.

“We are ready for this challenge mentally and physically and we know what we are capable of as a team, so we’ll go out there and give everything we have.”

Matthew Carley (England) has been appointed the match referee with Australia’s Damon Murphy and Jordan Way (Australia) serving as assistant referees, and their compatriot Brett Cronan is on TMO duty.

Springbok team to face New Zealand in Gold Coast:
15 – Willie le Roux (Toyota Verblitz) – 69 caps, 60 pts (12t)
14 – Sbu Nkosi (Cell C Sharks) – 15 caps, 45 pts (9t)
13 – Lukhanyo Am (Cell C Sharks) – 22 caps, 25 pts (5t)
12 – Damian de Allende (Munster) – 54 caps, 30 pts (6t)
11 – Makazole Mapimpi (Cell C Sharks) – 21 caps, 80 pts (16t)
10 – Handré Pollard (vice-captain, Montpellier) – 56 caps, 556 pts (6t, 83c, 116p, 4d)
9 – Faf de Klerk (Sale Sharks) – 35 caps, 25 pts (5t)
8 – Duane Vermeulen (Vodacom Bulls) – 57 caps, 15 pts (3t)
7 – Kwagga Smith (Yamaha Júbilo) – 15 caps, 5 pts (1t)
6 – Siya Kolisi (captain, Cell C Sharks) – 59 caps, 30 pts (6t)
5 – Lood de Jager (Sale Sharks) – 52 caps, 25 pts (5t)
4 – Eben Etzebeth (Toulon) – 93 caps, 15 pts (3t)
3 – Trevor Nyakane (Vodacom Bulls) – 50 caps, 5pts (1t)
2 – Bongi Mbonambi (DHL Stormers) – 44 caps, 45 pts (9t)
1 – Ox Nché (Cell C Sharks) – 5 caps, 0pts

Replacements:
16 – Malcolm Marx (Kubota Spears) – 42 caps, 45 pts (9t)
17 – Steven Kitshoff (DHL Stormers) – 55 caps, 5pts (1t)
18 – Vincent Koch (Saracens) – 27 caps, 0 pts
19 – Franco Mostert (Honda Heat) – 47 caps, 5pts (1t)
20 – Jasper Wiese (Leicester Tigers) – 7 caps, 0 pts
21 – Herschel Jantjies (DHL Stormers) – 17 caps, 25 pts (5t)
22 – Elton Jantjies (NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes) – 40 caps, 300 pts (2t, 64c, 54p)
23 – Frans Steyn (Toyota Cheetahs) – 70 caps, 141pts (11t, 7c, 21p, 3d)

Springbok record against New Zealand:

Played 100; Won 36, Lost 60, Drawn 4; Points for 1594, Points against 2069; Tries scored 154, Tries conceded 226; Highest score 46 pts, Biggest win 17 pts; Win %: 36%.

Match stats:

  • Sbu Nkosi, Bongi Mbonambi and Malcolm Marx need one more try to get to take their Test tally to 10 tries and 50 points.
  • This encounter will be Siya Kolisi’s 30th Test match as captain, surpassing Francois Pienaar to become the fourth most capped Springbok captain behind John Smit (83), Jean de Villiers (37), and Gary Teichmann (36).
  • Frans Steyn needs to score nine more points to earn 150 Test points.

Miscellaneous:

  • The total Test caps for the Springbok starting line-up is
  • There are 272 caps in the backline with 375 caps amongst the forwards. On the bench there are a further 305
  • The average caps per player in the backline are 38 the forwards 46 while the players on the bench average 38.

Source – South Africa Rugby

6 Nations

Sean O’Brien to retire from rugby

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Image Credit: London Irish

London Irish can confirm Seán O’Brien is set to retire from rugby at the end of the 2021/22 season.

The back-row forward will bring a storied 14-year career to a conclusion this summer after two-and-a-half years with the Exiles.

O’Brien spent eleven seasons with his home province of Leinster, winning four Pro12/ Pro14 league titles, four Heineken Cup/ Champions Cup honours and an Amlin Challenge Cup, whilst also earning the ERC European Player of the Year accolade in 2011. 

He was capped 56 times for Ireland between 2009 and 2019 and represented the British and Irish Lions on two tours, firstly to Australia in 2013 and then to New Zealand in 2017. 

O’Brien joined London Irish in December 2019 and has played a vital part across three successful seasons in west London, becoming a fan favourite amongst the Exile Nation. 

On his decision to retire, O’Brien stated: “After much deliberation and consultation with my family and friends, I can confirm that I have decided to retire from playing professional rugby at the end of the season.

“I’ve had an incredible career and am thankful for every second of my time at Leinster, Ireland, London Irish and the British & Irish Lions. 

“As a 20-year-old, I fulfilled my childhood dream by pulling on the Leinster jersey, and when I made my debut against Cardiff Blues in 2008, I never imagined what would then follow over the next 14 years. 

“A special mention must go to Colin McEntee for his ‘big brother’ approach when I joined the academy. 

“I feel lucky to have experienced so many wonderful highlights over the course of my career.

“At an international level, I feel privileged to have won 56 caps for Ireland. 

“I gave everything I could possibly give, and I will always look back with great pride at every time I pulled on the Irish jersey to represent my country, my county, my friends, and family.

“I feel very fortunate to have had the career I’ve had but none of it would have been possible without the support of so many people.

“Firstly, I would like to thank my Mam and Dad for taking me to Ballon Rathoe Community Games and then Tullow RFC when I was 8 years old. 

“They took me to every sport in my area which gave me the exposure to all types of sport. 

“They were the perfect role models who taught me to not be afraid of hard work, which certainly helped me progress my career and I can’t thank them enough.

“I was lucky to play alongside some great players and under some brilliant managers and coaches during my time at Tullow, Leinster, Ireland, London Irish and the Lions and I would like to thank every one of them. 

“I would also like to thank the backroom staff at each of those clubs, they all showed me fantastic support during my time with them.

“I would like to say a special thank you to some people who believed in me early on in my career, who are sadly no longer with us. 

“Jim Kealy (Tullow RFC) and David Wilkie (Edenderry RFC) always said the right thing to me and gave me direction when needed.

“Away from rugby, I feel lucky to have had such a close group of friends that I have always been able to count and rely on throughout the course of my career. 

“Thanks to all of you, especially James Foley and Daniel Davey. 

“Finally, the most important thank you is reserved for my family. 

“I can’t thank my Mum, Dad and brothers (Stephen and William) sisters (Caroline and Alex) enough for their unconditional support over the years. 

“It has meant everything to me and to have 6 nephews watching means the world to me.

“There is still a lot of rugby to be played this season before the time comes to hang up my boots, and I am fully focused on giving my all in the London Irish jersey until then. 

“I’m going to soak up every minute I get on the pitch and look forward to helping the team wherever I can.

“I am excited about the future and feel I still have a lot to offer the game, in whatever capacity that may be. 

“I am currently taking my time to consider a number of options and will make an announcement with regards to the next stage of my career very soon.”

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6 Nations

Ryan And Baird Ruled Out Of Scotland Game. 2 called up.

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Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images

The Ireland squad returned to Dublin on Saturday evening following the victory over England at Twickenham and reassembled at Carton House on Sunday evening.

James Ryan will not be considered for selection this week and his return to rugby protocols will be supervised by the Leinster Medical Team. Ryan Baird is ruled out of the final fixture of the 2022 Guinness Six Nations with a back issue.

Uncapped locks Ross Molony and Joe McCarthy have been called up to train with the squad. Ross has been involved in Ireland squads since the summer of 2021 while Joe, a former Ireland U20 player, made his Leinster debut against Cardiff in January having impressed for Dublin University in the Energia AIL.

Robert Baloucoune, Nick Timoney and Mike Lowry all return after lining out for Ulster in the URC against Leinster at the weekend.

Ireland play Scotland in the final round of the 2022 Guinness Six Nations Championship on Saturday 19th March at 4.45pm. The game is being televised by Virgin (ROI) and ITV (NI).

Ireland Squad Round 5 2022 Guinness Six Nations Championships

Backs (16)
Bundee Aki (Connacht/Galwegians) 36 caps
Robert Baloucoune (Ulster/Enniskillen) 2 caps
Joey Carbery (Munster/Clontarf) 31 caps
Jack Carty (Buccaneers/Connacht) 11 caps
Craig Casey (Munster/Shannon) 5 caps
Andrew Conway (Munster/Garryowen) 30 caps
Jamison Gibson Park (Leinster) 16 caps
Mack Hansen (Connacht) 3 caps
Robbie Henshaw (Leinster/Buccaneers) 56 caps
James Hume (Ulster/Banbridge) 3 caps
Hugo Keenan (Leinster/UCD) 19 caps
James Lowe (Leinster) 11 caps
Michael Lowry (Ulster/Banbridge) 1 cap
Conor Murray (Munster/Garryowen) 95 caps
Garry Ringrose (Leinster/UCD) 41 caps
Johnny Sexton (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 104 caps CAPTAIN

Forwards (19)
Finlay Bealham (Connacht/Buccaneers) 22 caps
Tadhg Beirne (Munster/Lansdowne) 29 caps
Jack Conan (Leinster/Old Belvedere) 26 caps
Gavin Coombes (Munster/Young Munster) 2 caps
Caelan Doris (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 16 caps
Tadhg Furlong (Leinster/Clontarf) 56 caps
Cian Healy (Leinster/Clontarf) 115 caps
Dave Heffernan (Connacht/Buccaneers) 6 caps
Iain Henderson (Ulster/Academy) 67 caps
Rob Herring (Ulster/Ballynahinch) 25 caps
Dave Kilcoyne (Munster/UL Bohemians) 47 caps
Jeremy Loughman (Munster/Garryowen) uncapped
Joe McCarthy (Leinster/Dublin) uncapped
Ross Molony (Leinster/UCD) uncapped
Peter O’Mahony (Munster/Cork Constitution) 83 caps
Dan Sheehan (Leinster/Lansdowne) 6 caps
Nick Timoney (Ulster/Banbridge) 2 caps
Kieran Treadwell (Ulster/Ballymena) 4 caps
Josh van der Flier (Leinster/UCD) 39 caps

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6 Nations

Johnny Sexton Signs Contract Extension to 2023 Rugby World Cup

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Photo Credit - Irish Rugby

Ireland and Leinster out-half Johnny Sexton has signed a contract extension up until the end of the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France.

In November Johnny earned his 100th cap for Ireland against Japan and played a pivotal role in Ireland’s third defeat of New Zealand. He hit the milestone of 500 Six Nations Championship points against Wales in Round 1 of this year’s tournament and has represented Ireland on 103 occasions to date.

The former World Player of the Year was appointed Ireland captain by Andy Farrell in January 2020 and has led the team to ten victories in his 13 game tenure as the on field general.

Johnny made his international debut against Fiji in November 2009 and has represented Ireland at three Rugby World Cups (2011, 2015 & 2019). Johnny is a two time Lions tourist (2013 & 2017) and has won three Six Nations titles with Ireland and five European Cups with Leinster. He has represented his provinces on 178 occasions, scoring 1549 points.

David Nucifora, IRFU Performance Director, commented: “Johnny’s performances continue to be of the highest standard and he remains an integral member of the Ireland and Leinster squads.  He has always been a leader on the field and in the past two years since taking on the Ireland captaincy his leadership off it has been top class. Johnny is a generational player and we are delighted that he has extended to 2023.”

 Johnny Sexton, commented: “I always said that if I am enjoying my rugby and the Ireland and Leinster set-ups believe I can add value to the environment then it would be an easy decision to sign another contract.  There is some great talent coming through at Leinster at present and I am excited about the prospect of competing at a fourth World Cup with Ireland and the potential for growth in this group between now and then.”

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