It only takes Juan…

Juan de Jongh has been named as Western Province captain for the upcoming Currie Cup season with Pat Cilliers as his  vice-captain.

The discarded Springbok centre is one of the more senior members in Allister Coetzee’s squad which has seven players who are still eligible for the Under-21s.

The 26-year-old takes over the squad captaincy from Deon Fourie, who is now playing in France, and will lead his province in the absence of national skipper Jean de Villiers.
“First and foremost, Juan is a true Western Province Rugby man, he knows the culture of the union and what it stands for and he will lead by example,” Western Province coach Allister Coetzee said in a press conference on Monday
“Despite being just 26 years old Juan is a very experienced and respected member of our squad and that will allow him to get the best out of everyone around him.
“We have a strong leadership group in this Western Province team and all eight to ten of those players [in our leadership group] will no doubt provide the necessary to support to Juan – starting with Pat, our official vice-captain.”
De Jongh made his WP debut in 2009 and has played 39 matches in the Blue & White hoops. He played his first Super Rugby match in 2010 and has made 69 appearances for the DHL Stormers.
Speaking about the captaincy, De Jongh said: “It’s a huge honour for me and a challenge I am relishing.
“I have some pretty big shoes to fill if you think about who has captained Western Province before me, but I’m excited about the challenge and I hope to be able to make a difference and add to the legacy of this great union.”
Western Province will get their Currie Cup campaign underway against the Eastern Province Kings in Port Elizabeth on Friday, August 8.
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Bok Squad included two rookies

Sharks scrumhalf Cobus Reinach is one of two uncapped players to be named for the Springbok Rugby Championship squad.RW Stamp

 Jean de Villiers has recovered from the knee injury which kept him out of the June Tests and is back in the national squad for the forthcoming Rugby Championship.
De Villiers is one of six players returning from injury after missing the entire or a part of the Incoming Series.
The others are Tendai Mtawarira (prop), Frans Malherbe (prop), Eben Etzebeth (lock), Patrick Lambie (flyhalf/fullback) and Damian de Allende (centre).
De Allende, who was forced to withdraw from the squad in June because of a knee ligament injury, and scrumhalf Cobus Reinach are the only two uncapped players in the 30-man Springbok squad.
The national selectors have also retained four debutants from the June series for the Rugby Championship – Cornal Hendricks (wing), Teboho Mohoje (loose forward), Loodwyk de Jager (lock) and Handré Pollard (flyhalf).
“It’s great to have Jean back to lead the side in the Rugby Championship,” said Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer.
“Victor Matfield and Jan Serfontein both did superbly well in his absence, but he is our captain and I’m sure he will slot back into the side without any difficulty.
“The same goes for Eben, Frans and Patrick, all of whom have been part of the squad before.
“We will medically assess all the players in the squad in Johannesburg next week.
“This will not only include the players who missed the June Tests because of injury, but also someone such as Mtawarira, who has been out of action for a while.
“We will deal with every player and his needs individually.”
Commenting on the inclusion of Hendricks, a recent gold medal winner in sevens at the Commonwealth Games in Scotland, Mohoje, De Jager and Pollard, Meyer said: “These players have impressed from the first minute they joined us.
“This is a step up for all of them, but that is the kind of challenge we thrive on.
“It’s never easy cutting a squad down in size and we’re fortunate that we have a number of experienced players who will be on stand-by should their services be needed.”
Meyer said he is looking forward to the Rugby Championship, which kicks off on Saturday, August 16 when Australia host New Zealand in Sydney and the Springboks take on Argentina at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria.
The Springbok squad will gather in Johannesburg for a pre-competition camp and then again on  August 10 in Pretoria, where they will prepare for the Test against Argentina.
“We’ve been steadily improving over the past two years but another step-up is needed this season,” said Meyer.
“It’s been a theme for us since the start of the season and we must simply keep on accelerating in the coming two months.
“We’ve set ourselves some goals for the Rugby Championship and we’ll have to be focused and switched on from the moment we get together in Johannesburg.
“Winning matches and scoring tries remain foremost in our minds.
“During the four matches in June, we scored 23 tries, which we were very happy with.
“I think we can be proud of the rugby we played against Wales and Scotland, but that is in the past now and we have a new competition to get ready for.
“There are many good things we can build on from the June series, but also some things we need to work on if we’re going to be competitive in the coming months.
“It’s a challenge we relish though and I can’t wait to get going.”
Two senior Springboks who will play in Japan in the coming months, JP Pietersen and Schalk Burger, were not considered for the start of the competition. They have to report to their respective clubs next week.
“Obviously the squad can change during the course of the Rugby Championship and although JP and Schalk were not considered at this stage, they could still feature later in the competition,” said Meyer.
Injured players who were not available for selection after featuring in 2013 or earlier in 2014, are Flip van der Merwe (knee), Pieter-Steph du Toit (knee), Arno Botha (knee), Pierre Spies (bicep), Fourie du Preez (ankle) and Jaque Fourie (ankle).
Springbok Rugby Championship squad: Willem Alberts, Bakkies Botha, Schalk Brits, Marcell Coetzee, Damian De Allende, Lodewyk de Jager, Jean de Villiers (captain), Bismarck du Plessis, Jannie du Plessis, Eben Etzebeth, Bryan Habana, Cornal Hendricks, Francois Hougaard, Patrick Lambie, Willie le Roux, Francois Louw, Frans Malherbe, Victor Matfield, Teboho Mohoje, Tendai Mtawarira, Lwazi Mvovo, Trevor Nyakane, Ruan Pienaar, Handré Pollard, Cobus Reinach, Jan Serfontein, Gurthrö Steenkamp, Morné Steyn, Adriaan Strauss, Duane Vermeulen.

Folau back for Waratahs Semi (team sheet)

Israel Folau and Jacques Potgieter will start for the Waratahs in their Super Rugby Semi-final against the Brumbies at the Sydney Football Stadium on Saturday.

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Waratahs

Israel Folau, Alofa Alofa, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Kurtley Beale, Rob Horne, Bernard Foley, Nick Phipps, Wycliff Palu, Michael Hooper, Stephen Hoiles, Kane Douglas, Jacques Potgieter, Sekope Kepu, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Benn Robinson.

Replacements :(from) 16 Paddy Ryan, 17 Jeremy Tilse, 18 Tolu Latu, 19 Will Skelton, 20 Mitchell Chapman, 21 Pat McCutcheon, 22 Brendan McKibbin, 23 Taqele Naiyaravoro, 24 Matt Carraro, 25 Mitchell Chapman

Final Super Rugby Log

Overall Super Rugby table and standings
Conference leaders.
Team
Nation
P
W
L
D
PF
PA
PD
Bp
Ttl
1. Waratahs () 16 12 4 0 481 272 209 10 58
2. () 16 11 5 0 445 322 123 7 51
3. () 16 11 5 0 406 293 113 6 50
4. () 16 10 6 0 412 378 34 5 45
5. () 16 8 6 2 384 378 6 8 44
6 () 16 8 8 0 401 442 -41 10 42
7. () 16 8 8 0 439 374 65 9 41
8. () 16 9 7 0 343 393 -50 4 40
9. () 16 7 8 1 365 335 30 8 38
10. () 16 7 9 0 419 395 24 9 37
11. () 16 7 9 0 290 326 -36 4 32
12. () 16 7 9 0 367 413 -46 3 31
13. () 16 5 11 0 374 493 -119 8 28
14. () 16 4 11 1 372 527 -155 6 24
15. () 16 4 12 0 303 460 -157 5 21

Super Rugby Table: Week 17

Overall Super Rugby table and standings
Conference leaders.
Team
Nation
P
W
L
D
PF
PA
PD
Bp
Ttl
1. Waratahs () 14 10 4 0 403 253 150 8 48
2. () 14 10 4 0 352 256 96 5 45
3. () 14 9 5 0 390 301 89 6 42
4 () 14 8 6 0 377 364 13 10 42
5. () 15 8 7 0 423 350 73 9 41
6. () 15 9 6 0 365 353 12 4 40
7. () 14 8 6 0 288 326 -38 4 36
8. () 14 7 7 0 398 363 35 8 36
9. () 14 6 6 2 349 354 -5 8 36
10. () 14 6 7 1 325 312 13 7 33
11. () 14 6 8 0 264 292 -28 4 28
12. () 14 5 9 0 351 429 -78 8 28
13. () 14 5 9 0 273 371 -98 2 22
14. () 14 4 10 0 279 386 -107 5 21
15. () 14 3 10 1 320 447 -127 6 20

One change for Waratahs vs Brumbies (team sheet)

Waratahs head coach Michael Cheika has named his team to play the Brumbies with Benn Robinson winning his 130th cap for NSW TeamsheetsRugby.

Robinson has been named in the starting line up and will join fellow New South Wales legend Al Baxter as the state’s second most capped player of all time, behind former captain Phil Waugh (136).

Coach Michael Cheika has made just one change to the starting side that beat defending champions the Chiefs in their last outing back in round 16, with Wallaby prop Sekope Kepu starting at tighthead in place of the hard-hitting Paddy Ryan.

Internationals Jacques Potgieter and Kane Douglas will wear the number four and five jerseys respectively, with Wallaby debutant Will Skelton expected to make an impact from the NSW bench.

The Waratahs’ loose forwards remain untouched, with Michael Hooper and Wycliff Palu returning from Wallaby camp to join captain Dave Dennis in the battle against the ACT.

In-form halves Nick Phipps and Bernard Foley will look to unleash potent midfield duo Kurtley Beale and Adam Ashley-Cooper, who also return to NSW after helping the Wallabies secure a three-Test clean sweep over the French.

Winger Rob Horne will be accompanied by fellow speedster Alofa Alofa, with Israel Folau holding on to the fullback jersey and completing a dangerous back three.

Cheika has named an extended bench that features newcomer Taqele Naiyaravoro as well as fit-again Tolu Latu.

Waratahs

1. Benn Robinson , 2.Tatafu Polota Nau , 3. Sekope Kepu , 4. Jacques Potgieter , 5. Kane Douglas , 6. Dave Dennis (c), 7. Michael Hooper , 8. Wycliff Palu , 9. Nick Phipps , 10. Bernard Foley , 11. Rob Horne , 12. Kurtley Beale , 13. Adam Ashley-Cooper , 14. Alofa Alofa , 15 Israel Folau .

Replacements (one to be omitted): 16. Tolu Latu , 17. Jeremy Tilse , 18. Paddy Ryan , 19. Will Skelton , 20. Stephen Hoiles , 21. Brendan McKibbin , 22. Jono Lance , 23.Taqele Naiyaravoro , 24. Cam Crawford

Giant Skelton to make Wallabies debut against the French: Team Sheet

TeamsheetsWaratahs enforcer Will Skelton will make his Test debut for the Wallabies as they target a clean sweep of the French in Sydney on Saturday.

With Australia entering the match with an insurmountable 2-0 series lead, coach Ewen McKenzie has opted to give the 203cm, 140kg lock an opportunity in the starting side in his home state.

His inclusion represents one of the two changes made to the starting XV, with Skelton’s Waratahs teammate Wycliff Palu returning at No.8 after missing the second Test in Melbourne with a minor ankle injury.

There have been two further changes made on the bench with Brumbies prop Scott Sio and Waratahs outside back Rob Horne getting their first opportunities in the match day squad for 2014.

Horne comes in for Pat McCabe, who has suffered a nerve compression injury to his shoulder, making him unavailable for selection this week.

McKenzie said he was looking forward to seeing what impact Skelton would bring to the match.

“During the series we’ve already benefited from giving two other locks, Sam Carter and Luke Jones, their first opportunities for Australia.  The experience they gained will prove invaluable in the long-run and now it’s Will’s turn to show us what he has got,” McKenzie said.

“I’ve been really impressed with his attitude and the contribution he’s made to this team since the beginning of the series. He’s obviously got impressive metrics but he also has a big motor and is particularly skillful, so we’re looking forward to seeing how he will impose himself on the game.

“He’s worked really hard over the past 12 months at the Waratahs on improving his match conditioning and we believe he is ready for the step-up to Test rugby.”

Saturday’s victory over France was Australia’s sixth consecutive win, a feat last achieved by a Wallabies team in 2005.

McKenzie said it would be important for his side to maintain consistency as they target seven straight wins, a milestone last achieved in 1999/2000.

“During this stretch we’ve spoken a lot about ensuring we are meticulous with our preparation so that we put ourselves in the best possible position to play at a high level every week,” he said.

“You’re always working towards that complete game where you find the balance between your intentions in attack and an impenetrable defence, and it has been pleasing to see the squad highlight those characteristics at different points across the past six games.

“Our desire is to always play an up-tempo brand of rugby and we’ve now scored 23 tries in the past six games, an average of almost four a game.

“Our defence has also been steadily improving with each match, culminating with a shut-out of the French in our most recent match in Melbourne.

“The challenge and what we are always aiming for is to put both together and that will be our goal when we return to afternoon rugby in Sydney on Saturday.”

Australia: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Nick Cummins, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nic White, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Will Skelton, 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 James Slipper.
Replacements: 16 Nathan Charles, 17 Scott Sio, 18 Laurie Weeks, 19 James Horwill, 20 Ben McCalman, 21 Nick Phipps, 22 Kurtley Beale, 23 Rob Horne.