MyPlayers takes a look at all the South African Super Rugby team news and facts ahead of Round 8.
Pieter-Steph du Toit (TBC) will resume his DHL Stormers lock partnership with fellow Springbok Eben Etzebeth when the Capetonians host the Emirates Lions in a massive Vodacom Super Rugby clash on Saturday in Cape Town, where kick-off is scheduled for 17h15.
Du Toit, the 2016 SA Rugby Player of the Year, missed last Saturday’s thrilling win over the Chiefs through injury, but he has shrugged off his niggle and returns to the starting team to face their Highveld rivals.
The Cell C Sharks are not in action this weekend but the remaining South African sides all face tough challenges in their respective eighth round fixtures on Saturday.
Deon Davids’ Southern Kings team is the only outfit playing overseas, and they kick off the day’s busy action with a visit to the Reds in Brisbane (07h05). The Toyota Cheetahs entertain the Chiefs from New Zealand in Bloemfontein from 15h05, while the Vodacom Bulls face the Jaguares in an evening clash in Pretoria (19h30).
Unfortunately for Davids, his team suffered a blow with the loss of elusive fullback Malcolm Jaer, who will return home to Port Elizabeth due to a knee injury picked up during the week. The 21-year-old Jaer was one of the star performers with a hat-trick of tries for the Kings last weekend as the side narrowly went down 41-46 to the Force in Perth in their first of three tour matches in Australia.
The injury to Jaer has given an opportunity for Masixole Banda – last year’s Currie Cup First Division Player of the Year from Border – to return to the starting XV after missing out on a spot in the team last weekend against the Force. In a bid to freshen up his side, Davids also made three rotational changes amongst the forwards.
Later on Saturday, the action moves to Bloemfontein, where the Toyota Cheetahs entertain the high-flying Chiefs. Both sides lost their last fixture against the DHL Stormers – the Cheetahs played in Cape Town two weeks ago before their bye last Saturday – and Franco Smith’s team will be determined to deliver a better performance against a very strong Chiefs line-up.
This will be the 10th time these two sides clash and although the Toyota Cheetahs have never beaten the Chiefs, they have drawn three times before, the last time in 2014 in Bloemfontein, by 43-43, which was also the last time the men from Waikato visited Central South Africa.
Smith has made a few changes to the team that went down 53-10 to the DHL Stormers earlier this month. Props Ox Nche and Johan Coetzee move from the bench to the starting line-up, while lock Carl Wegner also gets a start. Niel Marais starts at flyhalf while Nico Lee moves from wing to inside centre to accommodate fit-again Sergeal Petersen.
Robbie Fleck’s DHL Stormers team is currently in red-hot form, having won all six their matches thus far this season, including last Saturday’s impressive home triumph over the Chiefs.
On Saturday they face another huge challenge in the form of the Emirates Lions, who are well rested following their bye from the previous round. The 2016 losing finalists from the Highveld are very close to their exciting best of last season and another close-fought but exciting local derby between the two rivals are expected.
The last time these teams played in Cape Town, in 2015, the score was 19-19 and another close contest could be on the cards this weekend.
Emirates Lions prop Ruan Dreyer will play in his 50th Vodacom Super Rugby game against the Cape side while centre Lionel Mapoe returns to action after a hand injury.
With just one win from six starts, the Vodacom Bulls are fighting with their backs against the wall in their evening clash with powerful Argentine side the Jaguares. The South Americans have won only two out seven in South Africa and the home team can brace themselves for a mighty onslaught from the gritty visitors.
The Vodacom Bulls have bolstered their starting line-up with the return of Springboks Jesse Kriel (fullback), Handré Pollard (flyhalf) and Lood de Jager (lock).
Wyatt Crockett to set new appearance record
Wyatt Crockett will set a tournament appearance record on Friday when he lines up for the Crusaders in Christchurch against the Sunwolves, in what will be his 176th appearance. He will surpass fellow Kiwi Keven Mealamu’s record of 175 matches set in 2015.
Former Springbok lock Victor Matfield is the SA record holder for most competition appearances. The former Vodacom Bulls captain played in 148 matches for the Cats and Vodacom Bulls and he is followed by fellow Boks Jannie du Plessis (Cell C Sharks/Toyota Cheetahs) on 145 and Odwa Ndugane (Vodacom Bulls/Cell C Sharks) on 142 caps.
Current Vodacom Bulls captain Adriaan Strauss will earn his 137th cap when he leads the Vodacom Bulls against Argentine side Jaguares at Loftus Versfeld, extending his SA record for the number of caps earned by a hooker and pulling level with JP Pietersen of the Cell C Sharks for the fourth-most caps by a South African.
The five highest capped SA Vodacom Super Rugby players are:
· Victor Matfield (Cats / Vodacom Bulls) – 148
· Jannie du Plessis (Toyota Cheetahs / Cell C Sharks) – 145
· Odwa Ndugane (Vodacom Bulls / Cell C Sharks) – 142
· JP Pietersen (Cell C Sharks) – 137
· Adriaan Strauss (Toyota Cheetahs / Vodacom Bulls) – 136
Reds v Southern Kings
Reds: 15. Karmichael Hunt, 14. Izaia Perese, 13. Samu Kerevi (captain), 12. Duncan Paia’aua, 11. Eto Nabuli, 10. Quade Cooper, 9. James Tuttle, 8. Scott Higginbotham, 7. George Smith, 6. Hendrik Tui, 5. Lukhan Tui, 4. Rob Simmons, 3. Sam Talakai, 2. Alex Mafi, 1. Sef Fa’agase. Replacements: 16. Andrew Ready, 17. Kirwan Sanday, 18. Taniela Tupou, 19. Kane Douglas, 20. Adam Korczyk, 21. Nick Frisby, 22. Hamish Stewart, 23. Chris Kuridrani.
Southern Kings: 15. Masixole Banda, 14. Yaw Penxe, 13. Berton Klaasen, 12. Luzuko Vulindlu, 11. Makazole Mapimpi, 10. Lionel Cronje (captain), 9. Louis Schreuder, 8. Ruaan Lerm, 7. Tyler Paul, 6. Chris Cloete, 5. Wilhelm van der Sluys, 4. Mzwanele Zito, 3. Justin Forwood, 2. Michael Willemse, 1. Chris Heiberg. Replacements: 16. Martin Bezuidenhout, 17. Schalk van der Merwe, 18. Dayan van der Westhuizen, 19. Irne Herbst, 20. Andisa Ntsila, 21. Johan Steyn, 22. Wandile Mjekevu, 23. Pieter-Steyn de Wet.
Date: Saturday, 15 April
SA Time: 07h05
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Referee: Quinton Immelman
Assistant referees: Rasta Rashivhenge, Damon Murphy
Television match official: Damien Mitchelmore
Toyota Cheetahs v Chiefs
Toyota Cheetahs: 15. Clayton Blommetjies, 14. Sergeal Petersen, 13. Francois Venter (captain), 12. Nico Lee, 11. Raymond Rhule, 10. Niel Marais, 9. Shaun Venter, 8. Henco Venter, 7. Oupa Mohoje, 6. Paul Schoeman, 5. Carl Wegner, 4. Armandt Koster, 3. Johan Coetzee, 2. Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1. Ox Nche. Replacements: 16. Elandre Huggett, 17. Charles Marais, 18. Tom Botha, 19. Francois Uys, 20. Niell Jordaan, 21. Junior Pokomela/Luther Obi, 22. Tian Meyer, 23. Fred Zeilinga.
Chiefs: 15. Damian McKenzie, 14. Toni Pulu, 13. Sam McNicol, 12. Anton Lienert-Brown, 11. James Lowe, 10. Aaron Cruden (co-captain), 9. Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8. Michael Leitch, 7. Sam Cane (co-captain), 6. Mitchell Brown, 5. Brodie Retallick, 4. Taleni Seu, 3. Atu Moli, 2. Brayden Mitchell, 1. Kane Hames. Replacements: 16. Hika Elliot, 17. Siegfried Fisi’ihoi, 18. Sefo Kautai, 19. Dominic Bird, 20. Liam Messam, 21. Finlay Christie, 22. Alex Nankivell, 23. Shaun Stevenson.
Date: Saturday, 15 April
SA Time: 15h05
Venue: Toyota Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein
Referee: Jaco van Heerden
Assistant referees: Marius van der Westhuizen, Lourens van der Merwe
Television match official: Johan Greeff
DHL Stormers v Emirates Lions
DHL Stormers: 15. SP Marais, 14. Cheslin Kolbe, 13. EW Viljoen, 12. Dan du Plessis, 11. Dillyn Leyds, 10. Robert du Preez, 9. Jano Vermaak, 8. Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7. Siya Kolisi (captain), 6. Nizaam Carr, 5. Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4. Eben Etzebeth, 3. Frans Malherbe, 2. Bongi Mbonambi, 1. JC Janse van Rensburg. Replacements: 16. Ramone Samuels, 17. Oli Kebble, 18. Wilco Louw, 19. Jan de Klerk, 20. Johan du Toit, 21. Godlen Masimla, 22. Kurt Coleman, 23. Dan Kriel.
Emirates Lions: 15. Andries Coetzee, 14. Madosh Tambwe, 13. Lionel Mapoe, 12. Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 11. Courtnall Skosan, 10. Elton Jantjies, 9. Ross Cronje, 8. Warren Whiteley (captain), 7. Ruan Ackermann, 6. Jaco Kriel, 5. Franco Mostert, 4. Andries Ferreira, 3. Ruan Dreyer, 2. Malcolm Marx, 1. Jacques v Rooyen. Replacements: 16. Robbie Coetzee, 17. Corne Fourie, 18. Johannes Jonker, 19. Lourens Erasmus, 20. Kwagga Smith, 21. Faf de Klerk, 22. Harold Vorster, 23. Sylvian Mahuza.
Date: Saturday, 15 April
SA Time: 17h15
Venue: DHL Newlands, Cape Town
Referee: Jaco Peyper,
Assistant referees: AJ Jacobs, Cwengile Jadezweni
Television match official: Shaun Veldsman
Vodacom Bulls v Jaguares
Vodacom Bulls: 15. Jesse Kriel, 14. Travis Ismaiel, 13. Jan Serfontein, 12. Burger Odendaal; 11. Jamba Ulengo, Handré Pollard, 9. Piet van Zyl, 8. Hanro Liebenberg, 7. Jannes Kirsten, 6. Nick de Jager, 5. Lood de Jager, 4. RG Snyman, 3. Trevor Nyakane, 2. Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1. Pierre Schoeman. Replacements: 16. Jaco Visagie, 17. Lizo Gqoboka, 18. Martin Dreyer, 19. Jason Jenkins, 20. Marnus Schoeman, 21. Rudy Paige, 22. Tian Schoeman, 23. Warrick Gelant.
Date: Saturday, 15 April
SA Time: 19h30
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe
Assistant referees: Angus Gardner, Egon Seconds
Television match official: Willie Vos
Other Round 8 fixtures
Friday, 14 April
09h35: Crusaders v Sunwolves (Christchurch)
Saturday, 15 April
09h35: Blues vs Hurricanes (Auckland)
11h45: Rebels v Brumbies (Melbourne)
Byes: Cell C Sharks, Force, Highlanders, Waratahs