South African Rugby Player of the Year for 2014 and Springbok No 8 Duane Vermeulen will make his 100th Vodacom Super Rugby appearance this weekend.
Vermeulen, who was also a nominee for World Player of the Year last season, will become the 32nd South African to reach this magical mark and the first in 2015. He will play his 80th match for the DHL Stormers and also has 20 Toyota Cheetahs caps to his name.
The DHL Stormers and Vodacom Bulls both face opposition from New Zealand this weekend – the Blues will be in action in Cape Town on Saturday afternoon and the Hurricanes are in Pretoria on Friday evening.
The weekend will conclude with a South African derby in Durban, where the Cell C Sharks and Emirates Lions will be looking for their first victory of 2015.
The Toyota Cheetahs have a bye.
The new and official Super Rugby mobile application was launched this week. It delivers the latest news, live scores, stats, player profiles, team information, stadiums, ticketing, social media integration and more.
The full list of South African Vodacom Super Rugby centurions (active players in bold):
139: Victor Matfield (Cats 8, Bulls 131)
133: Jannie du Plessis (Cheetahs 26, Sharks 107)
125: AJ Venter (Cats 19, Sharks 96, Stormers 10), John Smit (Sharks)
123: Morné Steyn (Bulls)
122: Stefan Terblanche (Sharks)
120: Bismarck du Plessis (Sharks)
118: Bryan Habana (Bulls 61, Stormers 57)
116: Danie Rossouw (Bulls)
115: Jacques Botes (Sharks)
113: Pedrie Wannenburg (Bulls), Adi Jacobs (Bulls 21, Cats 4, Sharks 88), Odwa Ndungane (Bulls 10, Sharks 103)
112: Fourie du Preez (Bulls), JP Pietersen (Sharks)
110: Wynand Olivier (Bulls)
109: Werner Kruger (Bulls)
108: Ollie le Roux (Natal 24, Sharks 60, Cats 3, Cheetahs 21), Meyer Bosman (Cheetahs 61, Sharks 47), Akona Ndungane (Bulls)
106: Adriaan Strauss (Bulls 9, Cheetahs 97)
105: Jean de Villiers (Stormers), Keegan Daniel (Sharks)
104: Andries Bekker (Stormers), Jano Vermaak (Cats 11, Lions 62, Bulls 31), Pierre Spies (Bulls), Peter Grant (Stormers)
103: Tendai Mtawarira (Sharks), Willem Alberts (Lions 37, Sharks 66)
102: Albert van den Berg (Cats 7, Sharks 95)
100: Bakkies Botha (Bulls)
*99: Duane Vermeulen (Cheetahs 20, Stormers 79)
Vodacom Bulls vs Hurricanes
SA Under-20 star Jesse Kriel will start his first match at this level for the Vodacom Bulls.
Three changes to the Vodacom Bulls’ pack – Pierre Spies comes in at No 8 for Arno Botha, Morné Mellett at loosehead prop and Trevor Nyakane moves to tighthead.
Spies takes over the captaincy from Victor Matfield while Nyakane replaces the injured Werner Kruger, opening a spot for Dean Greyling on the bench.
Hanro Liebenberg, younger brother of former Junior Springbok captain Wiaan, will make his Vodacom Super Rugby debut if he gets game time off the bench.
All Black midfielder Ma’a Nonu is back for the Hurricanes, his first match for the team from Wellington since 2011. Manawatu flanker Callum Gibbins will get his first start for the ‘Canes.
The Hurricanes last won in Pretoria in 2008, but on that occasion they also recorded their biggest ever victory over the Vodacom Bulls when they gave the team from Pretoria 50 (the final score was 50-22).
It’s also the highest score ever recorded between these two sides, although the Vodacom Bulls have won four encounters by scoring 40 points or more.
The last time the Hurricanes won two matches on tour in South Africa, was in 2006 when they finished on two from three. In 2005, they returned home to Wellington from the Republic having won both their matches – in Johannesburg and Durban.
The ‘Canes were also unbeaten on tour to South Africa in 1998 (Pretoria and Cape Town) and 2003 (Bloemfontein and Johannesburg).
The history between these two teams are dead-even, both having won eight times – four at home and four away. The average score over the years is 26-all.
Vodacom Bulls coach Frans Ludeke said: “There is always pressure and the fact that we have five frontline props out with injury does not make it any easier. We have good depth though and we back our junior structures, so I am comfortable that we will be a very competitive outfit on Friday.
Spies said: “Yes, we have a couple of younger guys in the team, but they are definitely good enough to play here. They bring lots of energy in the mix and we will need a healthy dose of that to compete on Friday against the Hurricanes, who will be full of confidence following their win last weekend. We know we were not good enough (last weekend). We did not play the important moments well and made silly errors that cost us dearly. Everyone is ready to make the step-up.”
The teams are:
Vodacom Bulls: Jesse Kriel, Bjorn Basson, JJ Engelbrecht, Jan Serfontein, Francois Hougaard, Handré Pollard, Piet van Zyl, Pierre Spies (captain), Lappies Labuschagne, Deon Stegmann, Victor Matfield, Jacques du Plessis, Trevor Nyakane, Adriaan Strauss, Morné Mellett. Replacements: Callie Visagie, Dean Greyling, Dayan van der Westhuizen, Grant Hattingh, Hanro Liebenberg, Rudy Paige, Jacques-Louis Potgieter, Jurgen Visser.
Hurricanes: Jason Woodward, Cory Jane, Conrad Smith (captain), Ma’a Nonu, Julian Savea, Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara, Blade Thomson, Callum Gibbens, Brad Shields, James Broadhurst, Mark Abbott, Ben Franks, Dane Coles, Reggie Goodes. Replacements: Brayden Mitchell, Jeff Toomaga-Allen, Chris Eves, Ardie Savea, Victor Vito, Chris Smylie, James Marshall, Matt Proctor.
Vodacom Bulls vs Hurricanes (since 1998):
P 16 W 8 L 8
Points scored: 415
Points conceded: 413
Tries scored: 40
Tries conceded: 46
Average score: 26-26
Date: Friday, 20 February
SA Time: 19h10
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Referee: Andrew Lees (Australia)
Assistant referees: Rohan Hoffmann (Australia), Jaco van Heerden (South Africa)
Television match officials: Johan Greeff (South Africa)
eHowzit prediction: Bulls by five.
DHL Stormers vs Blues
The DHL Stormers starting XV shows only one change from last weekend, at lock where Jurie van Vuuren comes in for the injured Jean Kleyn.
Springbok flanker Siya Kolisi is back in the team and will start from the bench in the place of Van Vuuren, with Rynardt Elstadt and Michael Rhodes providing lock cover.
DHL Newlands is the Blues’ second favourite hunting ground in South Africa – they’ve won 57.1% of their matches in Cape Town (4 from 7), which is only bettered by the 60% they’ve won against the Emirates Lions in Johannesburg (3 from 5).
The DHL Stormers have won three home matches against the Blues and on every occasion they scored more than 25 points.
Last week, both the DHL Stormers and the Blues managed a 100% success rate in the scrums.
The DHL Stormers have won 21 of their last 25 home matches, a run that dates back to the start of the 2012 season.
On the contrary, the Blues have not won in South Africa in almost three years, dating back five matches to 10 March 2012 when they beat the Vodacom Bulls 29-23 in Pretoria.
DHL Stormers head coach Allister Coetzee said: “Our youngsters put their hands up last week and I expect the same from them again this Saturday, at home at DHL Newlands where we have a very good and proud record. It’s important that the players understand the need to back up last week’s performance against a very experienced Blues team. We’re expecting a massive onslaught from the Blues on Saturday, but it’s great to be back at home and we look forward to being in front of our home fans at DHL Newlands.”
The teams are:
DHL Stormers: Cheslin Kolbe, Johnny Kotze, Juan de Jongh, Damian de Allende, Dillyn Leyds, Demetri Catrakilis, Nic Groom, Duane Vermeulen (captain), Michael Rhodes, Rynhardt Elstadt, Ruan Botha, Jurie van Vuuren, Vincent Koch, Scarra Ntubeni, Steven Kitshoff. Replacements: Bongi Mbonambi, Oli Kebble, Wilco Louw, Siya Kolisi, Nizaam Carr, Louis Schreuder, Kurt Coleman, Huw Jones
Blues: Charles Piutau, Ben Lam, Hamish Northcot, Francis Saili, Tevita Li / Lolaga Visinia, Ihaia West, Jimmy Cowan, Jerome Kaino (captain), Brendon O’Connor / Luke Braid / Akira Ioane, Steven Luatua, Hayden Triggs / Patrick Tuipulotu, Josh Bekhuis / Tuipulotu, Angus Ta’avao / Charlie Faumuina, James Parsons, Tony Woodcock. Replacements: Matt Moulds / Greg Pleasants-Tate, Ofa Tu’ungafasi / Sam Prattley, Faumuina / Ta’avao, Tuipulotu / Triggs / Bekhuis, Braid / Ioane / O’Connor, Jamison Gibson-Park, Dan Bowden, Visinia / Li.
DHL Stormers vs Blues (since 1998):
P 16 W 7 L 9
Points scored: 380
Points conceded: 427
Tries scored: 40
Tries conceded: 48
Average score: 24-27 to the Blues
Date: Saturday, 21 February
SA Time: 17h05
Venue: DHL Newlands, Cape Town
Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa), Quinton Immelman (South Africa)
Television match officials: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)
eHowzit prediction: Stormers by eight.
Cell C Sharks vs Emirates Lions
Three changes to the Sharks’ starting XV are injury-enforced – Odwa Ndungane (wing), Lubabalo “Giant” Mtyanda (lock) and Dale Chadwick (prop) replace S’bura Sithole, Mouritz Botha and Tendai Mtawarira respectively.
In the fourth change, Bismarck du Plessis, a late withdrawal last weekend, is back to lead the Durbanites with Kyle Cooper shifting to the bench.
Mtyanda, on loan from the Steval Pumas, will make his Vodacom Super Rugby debut.
Two Junior Springboks, Thomas du Toit and André Esterhuizen, are on the Cell C Sharks’ bench as a result of the changes.
The Emirates Lions pack shows two changes – Jacques van Rooyen comes in at loosehead prop for Schalk van der Merwe and Warwick Tecklenburg replaces the injured Jaco Kriel at flank.
Robbie Coetzee (hooker) and Julian Redelinghuys (prop) are over their respective injuries and will start on the bench, next to Ruaan Lerm (loose forward).
Twenty-year-old lock JP du Preez, who is 2.09m tall, Lerm and centre Harold Vorster are in line for their debuts in Vodacom Super Rugby should they get game time from the bench.
Travelling around South Africa has not been good for the Emirates Lions – they’ve never won in Durban, Cape Town or Pretoria.
The Cell C Sharks are on a five-match winning streak at home against their counterparts from Johannesburg. The Emirates Lions have scored an average of one try per match in these encounters.
Dating back 11 matches to their first encounter in 2006, the Cell C Sharks have scored four tries or more on six occasions, but the Emirates Lions have done it only once.
Interestingly enough, both these sides made 124 carries last weekend – only the Brumbies (126) made more in Round 1.
Cell C Sharks Director of Rugby, Gary Gold, remarked: “Due to injuries we have had to necessitate a few changes to the team. Apart from those injury enforced changes we have tried to keep the team as consistent as possible, so that players have another opportunity to get the wrongs of the past weekend right. We are looking forward to a physical battle against a very good Lions team.”
Emirates Lions head coach Johan Ackermann said: “We are looking forward to the trip down to the coast as we enjoy the local derbies and believe this to be a crucial encounter for both sides. Both teams have a lot to play for as we both went down in our first games of the season – both at home – last weekend. The Sharks will no doubt come out firing but we will just follow our processes and look to capitalise where we did not last week. We will really need to use our opportunities and limit our mistakes.”
The teams are:
Cell C Sharks: SP Marais, Odwa Ndungane, Waylon Murray, Heimar Williams, Lwazi Mvovo, Patrick Lambie, Cobus Reinach, Tera Mtembu, Renaldo Bothma, Marcell Coetzee, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Lubabalo Mtyanda, Jannie du Plessis, Bismarck du Plessis (captain), Dale Chadwick. Replacements: Kyle Cooper, Thomas du Toit, Matt Stevens, Marco Wentzel, Jean Deysel, Conrad Hoffmann, Fred Zeilinga, André Esterhuizen.
Emirates Lions: Andries Coetzee, Ruan Combrinck, Lionel Mapoe, Howard Mnisi, Courtnall Skosan, Marnitz Boshoff, Ross Cronje, Warren Whiteley (captain), Warwick Tecklenburg, Derick Minnie, Franco Mostert, Martin Muller, Ruan Dreyer, Malcolm Marx, Jacques van Rooyen. Replacements: Robbie Coetzee, Schalk van der Merwe, Julian Redelinghuys, JP du Preez, Ruaan Lerm, Faf de Klerk, Elton Jantjies, Harold Vorster.
Cell C Sharks vs Emirates Lions (since 2006):
Played 11 Cell C Sharks won 9; Emirates Lions won 1; one draw
Cell C Sharks points scored: 321
Emirates Lions points scored: 183
Cell C Sharks tries scored: 35
Emirates Lions tries scored: 17
Average score: 29-16 to the Cell C Sharks
Date: Saturday, 21 February
SA Time: 19h10
Venue: Growthpoint Kings Park, Durban
Referee: Rohan Hoffmann (Australia)
Assistant referees: Andrew Lees (Australia), Stuart Berry (South Africa)
Television match officials: Deon van Blommestein (South Africa)
eHowzit prediction: Sharks by seven.
Other fixtures (SA kick-off times):
Friday, 20 February:
08h35: Chiefs vs Brumbies – New Plymouth
10h40: Rebels vs Waratahs– Melbourne
Saturday, 21 February:
08h35: Highlanders vs Crusaders – Dunedin
10h40: Reds vs Force – Brisbane
Bye: Toyota Cheetahs