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All-Black Veteran Close to Full Fitness

The Highlanders could have a massive boost for their final regular season Super Rugby match

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(Photo by Dianne Manson/Getty Images)

Highlanders and All Blacks back Ben Smith could possibly play again before the end of the Super Rugby regular season before his departure to France.

Highlanders assistant coach Mark Hammett has confirmed that Smith could return to the match day squad for their game with the Waratahs next week, which would be a week earlier than expected.

“Bender [Smith] is close. He was pushing very hard to get to this week, this is week five and they always say it takes about six weeks for that injury,” he said.

Smith may have played his final game at the Forsyth Barr Stadium before his move to Top 14 side Pau. However, although Smith would be desperate to play at home again Hammett wants his star man to be fully fit to feature next week.

“He’s highly unlikely for this week, we’re not trying to play games. But that’s because we really want to have him there for the final week,” he added.

Highlanders fans will really want to see the 76-capped All Black before he goes and will hope their side can qualify for the play-offs.

In more good news for the franchise Josh McKay, Liam Squire, Jackson Hemopo and Tevita Li all look set to return for the team’s clash with the Bulls this week having missed the South African tour for different reasons.

Super Rugby

Highlanders Confirm Trio of Signings

The Highlanders have announced the arrival of three new players following the departure of a host of key men at the end of last season

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(Photo by Rob Jefferies/Getty Images)

The Highlanders have confirmed the signings of Otago trio Michael Collins, Vilimoni Koroi and Sione Misiloi ahead of the 2020 Super Rugby season.

Collins, who was the Otago captain, and Misiloi have penned one-year contracts with the New Zealand based franchise.

However, Koroi, has signed a three-year deal which will see him miss the majority of next season so to allow him to be in selection contention for the All Blacks Sevens at next summer’s Tokyo Olympics.

Koroi is probably the most exciting of the three to have arrived as he can cover fly-half, wing and full-back and at only 21 will continue to grow as a player.

The other exciting prospect for the Highlanders is that they have already signed another All Blacks youngster in Scott Gregory, who is a blossoming full-back that has lit up the stage at underage levels.

The thought of Gregory and Koroi linking up is great but both are trying to get into that Sevens team and will be out of selection contention next season.

As well as that trio and Gregory the Highlanders have also signed Connor Garden-Bachop, Mitch Hunt, Jona Nakeri and Ngane Punivai in what has been an eventful transfer period so far.

However, the signings were vital following the departure of 12 key players including the likes of Jackson Hemopo, Matt Faddes, Ben Smith, Liam Squire and Luke Whitelock.

Although it might take a bit of time to get the squad together the new signings are promising for the franchise’s future.

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Super Rugby

Sharks Add Lions Star to Squad

The Sharks have seen a number of players leave this summer, but now they have started to add some promising stars ahead of the new season

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(Photo credit PETER PARKS/AFP/Getty Images)

The Sharks have confirmed the signing of from the Lions ahead of the 2020 season.

Tambwe joins the side on the back of an impressive Currie Cup campaign where he scored seven tries for the Golden Lions, having scored the same number for the Lions in the 2018 Super Rugby campaign.

The 22-year-old also joins back-rower James Venter who linked up with the squad yesterday.

RugbyPass are also reporting that the Sharks are looking at bringing in Ox Nche and Sikhumbuzo Notshe, while Rugby365 also claim that the Durban-based franchise are hoping to sign Werner Kok and Henco Venter.

The side are looking to rebuild following the departure of a number of players which includes the three du Preez brothers, Coenie Oosthuizen and Akker van der Merwe, who have all headed to Sale Sharks in the Premiership.

While Andre Esterhuizen has ledt for Japan, Philip van der Walt has signed for the Newcastle Falcons in England, while they also replaced head coach Rob du Preez with Sean Everitt.

Despite the leaving players the Sharks still have the likes of S’bu Nkosi, Makazole Mapimpi and Aphelele Fassi on their roster in what is an exciting prospect ahead of the new season.

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International

Dyantyi’s B-Sample Test Results Come Back

Aphiwe Dyantyi has been accused of doping and after asking for his B-sample tests to be checked, he has learned his fate

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(Photo by Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

Springboks winger Aphiwe Dyantyi has failed in his B-sample doping test after prohibited substances were found his A-sample previously.

The 25-year-old has been formally charged with having multiple anabolic steroids and metabolites in both samples that were provided to the South African Institute of Drug-Free Sport (SAIDS).

SAIDS have now informed SA Rugby and Dyantyi’s Super Rugby franchise the Lions of the situation as they now decide what to do.

“SA Rugby, the Lions Rugby Company and Dyantyi are working with SAIDS, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and all other relevant authorities on the matter and no further comment can be made at this stage,” a statement read.

Last weekend the Lions player issued his own statement in which he plead his innocence before his B-sample was tested.

“I want to deny ever taking any prohibited substance, intentionally or negligently, to enhance my performance on the field. I believe in hard work and fair play. I have never cheated and never will. The presence of this prohibited substance in my body has come as a massive shock to me and together with my management team and experts appointed by them, we are doing everything we can to get to the source of this and to prove my innocence,” he added.

He went on to say that he would never have taken any substances and that the next sample would prove that he hadn’t.

“As a professional sportsman on the national and international level, we get tested on a regular basis. I have been tested before and again since this test. It is part of the job and we all know that each and every player is bound to get tested at least two to four times a year. Taking any prohibited substance would not only be irresponsible and something that I would never intentionally do. It would also be senseless and stupid. I underwent a drug test on June 15 (only two weeks prior to the July 2 test) which did not return any adverse finding,” he added.

Dyantyi is now facing the prospect of a four-year ban from rugby after being capped by the Springboks 13 times, however, failing to make the Rugby World Cup squad. He will have his chance prove his innocence, but he will need a seriously could case behind him to reverse the decision.

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