The Southern Kings will make their overseas debut against seven times Vodacom Super Rugby champions Crusaders on Saturday in Christchurch.
Because of injury to key players, the Port Elizabeth-based franchise will be led by their fourth skipper in as many matches when prop Schalk Ferreira leads his team onto the field.
Vodacom Bulls coach Frans Ludeke made nine changes to his team that lost to the Crusaders for this Saturday’s clash with the Reds as the Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane. In a major boost for the Reds, their influential Wallabies skipper James Horwill returns to face the Bulls after a lengthy absence because of injury.
In Perth, the Toyota Cheetahs are chasing a third win on the road and selected fit again Springbok flank Heinrich Brussow for his first starting of the Super Rugby season.
The Sharks made several changes to their team to face the Melbourne Rebels in Durban after losing last week against the Brumbies at home in Durban.
In Cape Town, the DHL Stormers return to action against pace-setter Brumbies in the last SA fixture on Saturday. The Stormers opted for experience and have made five changes in their effort to beat the Brumbies.
Crusaders v Southern Kings
The Kings will be led by their fourth captain in as many matches when they face the powerful Crusaders at the AMI Stadium in a historic first away Vodacom Super Rugby match for the tournament newcomers.
Mobile loosehead prop Schalk Ferreira will become the fourth player to lead the Kings on Saturday in Christchurch.
Luke Watson had to leave the field after just 30 minutes in their debut competition match against the Force. In the next match against The Sharks, lock Darron Nell took over as captain. However, he sustained a freak injury during warm-up against the Chiefs, which saw fellow lock Steven Sykes taking over the skipper duties.
Sykes is now one of several Kings players unavailable because of injury, with Ferreira now installed as team leader against the Crusaders.
Centre Andries Strauss was also not considered because of bruising around the AC joint. Regular fullback SP Marais is missing because of injury with George Whitehead now wearing the No 15 jersey.
One bit of good news however for the Kings is the return to fitness of former Sharks and MTN Lions centre Waylon Murray, who was included on the bench.
Meanwhile, Zac Guildford was named on the Crusaders bench for this clash. He is one of four changes to the 22, with two changes in the starting line-up. Guildford replaces Adam Whitelock amongst the reserves while Codie Taylor comes onto the bench for suspended Ben Funnell.
All Black Luke Romano returns at lock following a rib injury while Willi Heinz is named at halfback, meaning Dominic Bird and Andy Ellis will now be on the bench.
The teams are:
Crusaders: Israel Dagg, Tom Marshall, Robbie Fruean, Ryan Crotty, Johnny McNicholl, Dan Carter, Willi Heinz, Kieran Read, Matt Todd, George Whitelock, Sam Whitelock, Luke Romano, Owen Franks, Corey Flynn, Wyatt Crockett. Replacements: Codie Taylor, Joe Moody, Dominic Bird, Luke Whitelock, Andy Ellis, Tyler Bleyendaal, Zac Guildford.
Southern Kings: George Whitehead, Marcello Sampson, Ronnie Cooke, Hadleigh Parkes, Sergeal Petersen, Demetri Catrakilis, Shaun Venter, Jacques Engelbrecht, Wimpie van der Walt, Cornell du Preez, David Bulbring, Daniel Adongo, Kevin Buys, Bandise Maku, Schalk Ferreira (captain). Replacements: Edgar Marutlulle, Jaco Engels, Rynier Bernardo, Devin Oosthuizen, Nicolas Vergallo, Waylon Murray, Elric van Vuuren.
Kick-off SA Time: 08h35
Venue: AMI Stadium, Addington, Christchurch
Referee: Rohan Hoffman (Aus)
Assistant referees: Mike Fraser (NZ), Kane McBride (NZ)
Television match official: Keith Brown (NZ)
Reds v Vodacom Bulls
Vodacom Bulls coach Frans Ludeke made nine changes to his team that lost to the Crusaders for this Saturday’s clash with the Reds as the Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.
In a major boost for the Reds, their influential Wallabies skipper James Horwill returns to face the Bulls after a lengthy absence because of injury.
The Bulls changes are due to injuries, which have robbed them of four senior players, and also in line with Ludeke’s rotation policy. Wynand Olivier, Akona Ndungane and Francois Hougaard have all returned to Pretoria while big lock Flip van der Merwe was ruled out with a chest injury.
Dewald Potgieter returns to the loose trio with in-form loose forward Arno Botha dropping out of the match 22 altogether. Francois Venter arrived from South Africa and was included in the starting line-up in place of injured Olivier.
Lionel Mapoe returns from his shoulder injury and replaces Ndungane on the wing, while speedster Bjorn Basson comes in on left wing in place of Jurgen Visser who is also out of the 22 after his first start against the Crusaders.
Points machine Morne Steyn, with 110 Super Rugby caps under the belt, is benched for the first time after Ludeke preferred Louis Fouche at flyhalf. Amongst the forwards, Grant Hattingh is now over his concussion and will partner Paul Willemse at lock.
Chiliboy Ralepelle and Werner Kruger return to the front row in place of Willie Wepener and Frik Kirsten respectively.
The Bulls boast with a strong bench for this clash at a venue where they have lost eight of their previous nine encounters with the Reds. In their 2011 clash at the Suncorp, the Bulls lost 39-30, scoring three tries in reply to the Reds’ six, while last year in Pretoria the Bulls scored eight tries to one in their runaway 61-8 win at Loftus.
The Reds will be glad to welcome back Wallabies captain James Horwill on his return a from 10 month hamstring layoff.
However, openside flanker Liam Gill will miss the clash because of a knee injury.
More good news for the 2011 champions are the return of another Wallabies regular, outside centre Anthony Faingaa as well as Test winger Digby Ioane, who was dropped for the Force match for disciplinary reasons.
The teams are:
The St. George Queensland Reds: 15. Jono Lance, 14. Chris Feauai-Sautia, 13. Anthony Faingaa, 12. Ben Tapuai, 11. Digby Ioane, 10. Quade Cooper, 9. Will Genia (vc), 8. Jake Schatz, 7. Jarrad Butler*, 6. Eddie Quirk, 5. James Horwill (c), 4. Ed O’Donoghue, 3. James Slipper, 2. James Hanson, 1. Greg Holmes. Replacements: 16. Saia Faingaa, 17. Albert Anae, 18. Rob Simmons, 19. Curtis Browning**, 20. Nigel Ah Wong**, 21. Nick Frisby, 22. Mike Harris. Denotes *First starting Super Rugby opportunity; **In line to make Reds and Super Rugby debut.
Vodacom Bulls: Zane Kirchner, Lionel Mapoe, JJ Engelbrecht, Francois Venter, Bjorn Basson, Louis Fouchè, Jano Vermaak, Pierre Spies (captain), Dewald Potgieter, Deon Stegmann, Grant Hattingh, Paul Willemse, Werner Kruger, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Mornè Mellett. Replacements: Willie Wepener, Frik Kirsten, Juandrè Kruger, Jacques Potgieter, Ruan Snyman, Mornè Steyn, Jan Serfontein.
Kick-off SA Time: 10h40
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Referee: James Leckie (Australia)
Assistant referees: Andrew Lees (Australia), Damien Mitchelmore (Australia)
Television match official: Steve Leszcynski (Australia)
Western Force v Toyota Cheetahs
Totoya Cheetahs coach Naka Drotske has included Riaan Smit as flyhalf to replace the injured Johan Goosen for the Free State side’s final overseas match against the Force in Perth on Saturday.
Springbok no 10 Goosen returned to Bloemfontein following a freak knee injury, which saw him torn his cruciate ligament.
The Cheetahs are chasing a third win on the road and selected fit again Springbok flank Heinrich Brussow for his first start in place of the injured Frans Viljoen who is also on his way back to South Africa.
Griquas flyhalf Burton Francis has been included on the bench for the first time after he joined the Cheetahs two weeks ago.
Western Force coach Michael Foley has named an initial 23-man squad to face the Cheetahs at the revamped NIB Stadium, the team’s first fixture of the Super Rugby season.
Force captain Matt Hodgson and lock Sam Wykes are set to return from injury, while the match will also mark winger Alfie Mafi’s 50th Super Rugby appearance.
He has played 33 matches over three seasons for the Force, 9 matches for the Waratahs (in 2008) and also made seven appearances for the Brumbies (2009 and 2010).
The teams are:
Western Force 23-man squad: Chris Alcock, Richard Brown, Nathan Charles, Angus Cottrell, Pek Cowan, Patrick Dellit, Sias Ebersohn, Tetera Faulkner, Kyle Godwin, Jayden Hayward, Matt Hodgson (c), Toby Lynn, Salesi Ma’afu, Alfie Mafi, Alby Mathewson, Ben McCalman, Hugh McMeniman, Junior Rasolea, Mick Snowden, Winston Stanley, Heath Tessmann, Will Tupou, Sam Wykes.
Toyota Cheetahs: Hennie Daniller, Willie le Roux, Johan Sadie, Robert Ebersohn, Raymond Rhule, Riaan Smit, Sarel Pretorius, Phillip van der Walt, Lappies Labuschagne, Heinrich Brüssow, Francois Uys, Lood de Jager, Lourens Adriaanse, Adriaan Strauss (c), Trevor Nyakane. Replacements: Ryno Barnes, Coenie Oosthuisen, Rynhard Landman, Boom Prinsloo, Piet van Zyl, Burton Francis, Ryno Benjamin.
Kick-off SA Time: 12h45
Venue: NIB Stadium, Perth
Referee: Garratt Williamson (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Angus Gardner (Australia), Ian Smith (Australia)
Television match official: George Ayoub (Australia)
The Sharks v Rebels
2012 Vodacom Super Rugby finalists The Sharks made several changes to their team for Saturday’s clash in Durban against the Melbourne Rebels. The Sharks lost 29-10 last weekend against table-topping Brumbies in Durban.
Springbok centre Frans Steyn, prop Jannie du Plessis and Ryan Kankowski were all dropped to the bench, while Pieter Steph du Toit (lock) and Kyle Cooper (hooker) forced their way into the starting line-up.
Wiehahn Herbst (prop) and Jacques Botes (flank) comes into the team and skipper Keegan Daniel moves from the side of the scrum back to No 8.
Further changes to the team that was on the losing side last week against Jake White’s team see Lwazi Mvovo back in the No 11 jersey for Odwa Ndungane and Cobus Reinach at scrumhalf for Charl McLeod.
Meanwhile the Rebels welcome the return of captain, Gareth Delve, from injury for their first tour match in Durban.
The Rebels also welcome back Wallaby winger, Cooper Vuna, who has missed the team’s opening matches with a scapular injury he sustained in the first trial last month.
Rebels Head Coach, Damien Hill, has also rewarded promising New Zealand born winger Jason Woodward selecting the talented rookie in the run on side for his debut.
Prop Laurie Weeks will earn his 50th Super Rugby cap. Kurtley Beale and Kimami Sitauti was not considered because of injury.
The teams are:
The Sharks: Louis Ludik, JP Pietersen, Paul Jordaan, Meyer Bosman, Lwazi Mvovo, Patrick Lambie, Cobus Reinach, Keegan Daniel (captain), Marcell Coetzee, Jacques Botes, Franco van der Merwe, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Wiehahn Herbst, Kyle Cooper, Beast Mtawarira. Replacements: Craig Burden Jannie du Plessis, Jandre Marais, Ryan Kankowski, Charl McLeod, Frans Steyn, Riaan Viljoen.
Melbourne Rebels: Angus Roberts, Jason Woodward, Mitch Inman, Lachlan Mitchell, Cooper Vuna, James O'Connor, Nick Phipps, Gareth Delve (captain), Scott Fuglistaller, Scott Higginbotham, Luke Jones, Hugh Pyle, Laurie Weeks, Ged Robinson, Nic Henderson. Replacements: Shota Horie, Paul Alo-Emile, Cadeyrn Neville, Jordy Reid, Nic Stirzaker, Rory Sidey, Richard Kingi.
Kick-off SA Time: 12h45
Venue: NIB Stadium, Perth
Referee: Lourens van der Merwe (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Stuart Berry (South Africa), Reuben Rossouw (South Africa)
Television match official: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)
DHL Stormers v Brumbies
The DHL Stormers have opted for experience in naming five changes to his team for their clash on Saturday against unbeaten Brumbies at DHL Newlands.
The more experienced Dewaldt Duvenage returns at No 9 with Nic Groom dropping to the bench as one of five changes from the team that won against the Chiefs two weeks ago in Cape Town.
Gerhard van den Heever is in on the wing in place of injured Bryan Habana, who will be out of action until the end of the Super Rugby season.
Springbok centre Juan de Jongh has shrugged off his hamstring troubles and moves into No 13, meaning Jean de Villiers returns to his preferred inside centre position in place of Damian de Allende, who moves to the bench.
There is only one change amongst the forwards where hooker Tiaan Liebenberg was selected ahead of Deon Fourie. Peter Grant is unavailable and set to miss the next four weeks with an ankle injury.
Jake White has made just two changes to his team for the clash at DHL Newlands, with Ian Prior named to start at scrumhalf for the first time this year and Dan Palmer returning as tight-head prop.
Prior spent plenty of time in the No. 9 jersey during the 2012 season and worked well with flyhalf Matt Toomua during last week’s win over the Sharks. He came on for Nic White in the 13th minute against the Sharks and played a key role in supplying the forwards with quick, clean ball.
After suffering a blow to the shoulder, White has been given extra time to prove his fitness for the Stormers game. Mark Swanepoel was flown into South Africa on Monday as cover and will fill the No. 20 jersey on the bench should White not be cleared.
Palmer returns to the Brumbies starting side moving Ben Alexander to the bench. Samoan bash-brothers Scott Sio and Fotu Auelua retain their starting spots for the second leg of the tour with Peter Kimlin remaining at lock and Ben Mowen blind-side flanker.
The last time the University of Canberra Brumbies played in Cape Town was 2010 when they managed to knock the Stormers over by just two points, winning by 19-17.
Since going down in 1998, the Brumbies have lost just one game in Cape Town (2008, 20-10) while the 2006 fixture was a 15-all draw.
The teams are:
DHL Stomers: Joe Pietersen, Gio Aplon, Juan de Jongh, Jean de Villiers (captain), Gerhard van den Heever, Elton Jantjies, Dewaldt Duvenage, Duane Vermeulen, Rynhardt Elstadt, Siya Kolisi, Andries Bekker, De Kock Steenkamp, Frans Malherbe, Tiaan Liebenberg, Steven Kitshoff. Replacements: Deon Fourie, Pat Cilliers, Don Armand, Nizaam Carr, Nic Groom, Damian de Allende, Jaco Taute.
University of Canberra Brumbies: Jesse Mogg, Henry Speight, Tevita Kuridrani, Christian Lealiifano, Joe Tomane, Matt Toomua, Ian Prior, Fotu Auelua, George Smith, Ben Mowen, Sam Carter, Peter Kimlin, Dan Palmer, Stephen Moore, Scott Sio. Replacements: Siliva Siliva, Ben Alexander, Scott Fardy, Colby Faingaa, Nic White, Robbie Coleman, Clyde Rathbone, Mark Swanepoel (One player to be omitted).
Kick-off: SA Time: 19h10
Venue: DHL Newlands Stadium, Cape Town
Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Jonathan Kaplan (South Africa), Marc van Zyl (South Africa)
Television match official: Deon van Blommestein (South Africa)
Other fixtures (SA times):
Friday, 8 March:
08h35: Chiefs v Highlanders (Hamilton)
Sunday, 24 March:
07h05: Waraths v Blues (Sydney)