Sbu Nkosi and Kurt-Lee Arendse have been recalled to the Springbok squad for the final Castle Lager Rugby Championship match against Argentina at Hollywoodbets Kings Park in Durban on Saturday, while four players were released to their clubs to rack up game time as the competition reaches a conclusion.
Nkosi has recovered from the ankle injury that kept him out of Springbok action the entire year so far, while Arendse has served his suspension for a dangerous tackle in the match between the Springboks and All Blacks in Nelspruit and is back in contention for selection.
Meanwhile, Joseph Dweba (hooker), Warrick Gelant (utility back), Elrigh Louw (loose forward) and Salmaan Moerat (lock) have been released to their respective clubs to allow them to get valuable game time as the Springboks have a one-month break before gathering to prepare for the year-end tour, which will feature Tests against Ireland (5 November), France (12 November), Italy (19 November) and England (26 November) and mid-week matches against Munster (10 November) and the Bristol Bears (17 November) respectively.
Furthermore, Damian Willemse (flyhalf) sustained concussion in Saturday’s 36-20 victory against Argentina in Buenos Aires and will also return to his franchise to follow the prescribed return to play protocols.
The Springboks are currently tied on 14 log points with New Zealand in the Castle Lager Rugby Championship. Depending on the outcome of the game between New Zealand and Australia, the Boks may need a bonus-point win or a victory by a convincing margin against Los Pumas as they currently trail New Zealand on 13 points on points’ difference.
“We have been pretty unlucky on wing in the last few months in terms of injuries, which has forced our hand at giving players such as Kurt-Lee and Canan (Moodie) a chance at international level, and we are pleased with the depth we are now building as we get closer toward the Rugby World Cup next year,” said Nienaber.
“Kurt-Lee had a great debut and played very well against the All Blacks, but he was unfortunately banned, and we are delighted to have him back as he’s a very talented player.
“Sbu has been in our system for several years now and he has recovered from injury, so we are excited to welcome him back. He has shown his class in several big matches, and he brings experience, so he will undoubtedly add great value to the squad.
“This also allows us an opportunity to take stock of the depth we have at wing as we are now a year out from the Rugby World Cup in France.”
Commenting on the players released to their clubs, Nienaber said since they had an idea of the match-23 they would like to select for Saturday’s rematch against Argentina, it made sense to grant those players an opportunity to build their game time with the year-end tour around the corner.
“This year alone we have given close to 50 players an opportunity to play, so we have certainly ticked the box of creating squad depth, which is one of our key pillars for the team,” said Nienaber.
“We are, however, going into our last match of the Castle Lager Rugby Championship and we think it would be more beneficial for these players to return to their clubs and provinces to gain valuable game time.
“We have a long and challenging year-end tour ahead, which will involve an expanded squad, and we need the players to be match fit so we can hit the ground running when depart for the tour.”
Nienaber will announce his match-day squad for the final Test against Argentina on Tuesday.
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.