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Pollard: “it doesn’t matter how many Springboks you have in your camp”

“Super Rugby is the toughest competition in the world”

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Written by Reynardt Deminey
Photo by Suhaimi Abdullah/Getty Images

Springbok flyhalf Handre Pollard allayed early talks that the Bulls head into the 2019 Super Rugby competition as the strongest team in the South African conference.

Earlier this week Lions coach Swys de Bruin praised the Bulls for their progress under new coach Pote Human and new director of Alan Zondagh.

Pollard noted that Super Rugby is the toughest competition in the world.

“…it doesn’t matter how many Springboks you have in your camp, reputations count for nothing,” Pollard told reporters.

The Bulls have strengthened their ranks before playing their first warm-up game against the Lions this weekend. Additions to the team include Springboks Duane Vermeulen, Schalk Brits, and Cornal Hendricks.

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The Springbok Sevens trio of Stedman Gans, Rosko Specman and Dylan Sage are available for selection, while Muller Uys from Western Province and Paul Schoeman from the Cheetahs round off the new additions.  

Pollard said that it helps to have Duane (Vermeulen) and Schalk (Brits) in their camp, but that: “a team has to pitch up every weekend and be at its best.”

The Lions will take on the Sharks on 3 February at Cape Town Stadium with the Bulls taking on the Sharks in the second game. These will be the first appearances by the teams in their new-look superhero jerseys which the teams will use for the South African matches.

The Bulls kick off the start of their campaign in their first game on 16 February against the Stormers on Loftus Versfeld.

Premiership

Saracens Set to Land South African Starlet

Saracens have had their struggles of late but it appears as though despite everything they remain active in the transfer market and are preparing to sign one of South Africa’s brightest stars

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(Photo by Henry Browne/Getty Images)

Saracens are in advanced talks with young South African forward Cobus Wiese from the Stormers it has been revealed and his signing could benefit England too.

With the South African side struggling with cash at the moment, losing a host of their star players in recent times, the English Premiership giants are preparing to swoop in for another, with it believed that the utility forward to sign a five-year contract. 

At 22, the forward has been a regular for both the Stormers and Western Province over the past two years and if he does put pen to paper on the deal it would see him become available for England during his career. 

The London-based side have had a rough few days being handed a £5.3 million fine and being deducted 35 points in the Premiership for a breach of salary cap rules, but while that is being appealed, the club seem likely to continue their transfer business as usual. 

While for Saracens it would be a massive coup to sign Wiese, for the Stormers it would be a huge loss as they have already lost World Cup winners Eben Etzebeth and Damian de Allende, as well as other players such as Dan Kriel, Michael Kumbirai, Corne Fourie and EW Viljoen among others due to the current crisis at the franchise. 

The Stormers have been struggling through their pre-season so far as a host of their players are on loan abroad and they await the returns of some of their World Cup stars. 

They should be boosted by the returns of captain Siya Kolisi, Steven Kitshoff, Herschel Jantjies, Bongi Mbonambi, Frans Malherbe and recent World Player of the Year winner Pieter-Steph du Toit, who are all set to come back to the franchise come mid-December. 

However, the loss of another player and a rising star could not only be a blow for the club but for the Springboks in the future.

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Super Rugby

Chiefs Not Concerned by Cruden’s Injury History

The Chiefs are ready to welcome back former All Blacks out-half Aaron Cruden to the franchise and have reiterated that they are not worried by his recent injury catalogue

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(Photo credit JEAN-PHILIPPE KSIAZEK/AFP/Getty Images)

Super Rugby outfit the Chiefs are not worried about returning star Aaron Cruden’s recent injury history according to CEO Michael Collins.

The 30-year-old fly-half is set to return to the Hamilton-based franchise on a one-year deal, having previously spent six seasons with them and winning two titles before a move to French giants Montpellier. 

However, since his move to the Top 14 side the former All Black has picked up a number of injuries, including a calf problem that has caused him to miss large amounts of playing time, but Collins insists that the club are certain he will move to them and remain fit throughout. 

“We’ve spoken to Aaron and watched some of his games, and a couple of the injuries he did suffer in France were contact injuries and we always knew he was going to come right. the driver for us was he has such a history with the Chiefs, he’s a world-class first five-eighth, we’ve got some really good young backs coming through and we thought his recruitment would serve two purposes – to help drive the team round the field, and also to be an older voice and someone for those younger players to learn off. know that he’s going to come in fit and healthy, so we thought it’d be better to get his family settled, focus on that, then join the team after the Christmas break,” he said while speaking to Stuff. 

Cruden, who won 50 international caps for New Zealand before his switch to Europe, including appearances against the British and Irish Lions, will hope to put his own injury issues aside when he returns in January as his side look to start their campaign on a positive note. 

The Chiefs and Cruden kick-off their Super Rugby campaign on January 31st 2020 when they take on the Blues at Eden Park and Collins will be hoping his playmaker will be ready. 

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Rugby Championship

SANZAAR to Consider Japan’s Rugby Championship Inclusion

Following their hugely impressive Rugby World Cup performances from Japan SANZAAR are set to not only consider the team’s inclusion in the Rugby Championship but are also to reconsider the Sunwolves future according to reports

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Japanese rugby franchise the Sunwolves could be set for a return to Super Rugby as well as the national side having a chance to compete in the Rugby Championship according to a report from Newshub.

Following Japan’s brilliant World Cup campaign where they reached the last eight of the competition for the first time in their history, SANZAAR are apparently set to consider bringing the country into the Rugby Championship to help them develop their game. 

The report claims that SANZAAR are set to meet in Tokyo on Friday where they will also discuss the possibility of reintroducing the Sunwolves to Super Rugby. 

Speaking to Newshub, World Rugby chief executive Brett Gosper is hoping that Japan will be able to compete at the highest level and rues the fact that the Nations Championship proposal was shut down. 

“Certainly if I was in their shoes I’d be very keen to have Japan in my competition sooner rather than later. That’s entirely their call. We proposed a nations championship that had Japan very much playing at the top table and maybe they’ll see it that way for their own particular championship” he said. 

The inclusion of the Sunwolves would be huge for Japan after the franchise failed to agree a new contract with SANZAAR to extend their time in the competition where they have only won eight of 62 games since 2016. 

However, considering the success of the national side this tournament it seems only fair that they should be given a chance to continue their development to the top tier and that will only happen if their players are playing against the best week in week out. 

The Japanese were unfortunate to go down 26-3 to the Springboks on Saturday in the quarter-finals, but following their incredible performances where they played a fast and exciting style of rugby, earning many fans worldwide, people will hope that this is only the beginning of their rugby story.

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