Former Springbok captain Eben Etzebeth declared fit to face Pumas in Durban

Alex Broun 13/08/2018
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Eben Etzebeth has been out for nine months with a shoulder injury

Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus has confirmed that 67-Test lock Eben Etzebeth is available for selection after missing the incoming series against England and Super Rugby due to injury.

The former Springbok captain has been out of action for nine months‚ after suffering shoulder nerve damage playing against Wales in Cardiff last November.

Due to problems with the nerve, his recovery hit several setbacks along the way taking far longer than expected.

Erasmus confirmed the news on Monday in Durban, where the team gathered in the build-up to the weekend’s opening Rugby Championship match against Argentina.

“Yes, Eben is available and we will be looking at starting him instead of playing him from the bench,” Erasmus said.

“We got the clearance from the specialist so he is ready to go.

“He is fit and strong and has been functional for a while, and he has been with us at Stellenbosch for a few weeks where he has been training full-on.”

Erasmus added that he will have to manage the game time of several players, especially those who have played a lot of Super Rugby this year.

“Players such as Elton Jantjies, Franco Mostert and RG Snyman have seen a lot of action and clocked a lot of playing time, so we will have to be sensible in how we manage them especially at the beginning of the campaign,” he said.

“It can mean that perhaps they would not be in the selection mix for this weekend. We are playing Argentina twice in two weeks, travelling over there next week, so we will have to factor all of those things when we look at the first two matches.”

Erasmus cautioned that Argentina will be a tough nut to crack over the next two weeks: “They have a new coach in Mario Ledesma, who will energise the team and if you look at how well the Jaguares performed this year – they were unbeaten on tour through Australasia and beat all of the South African teams – then there is no doubt that we are in for two very tough, competitive Pumas matches.”

The Springbok team to face Argentina will be names on Thursday evening (UAE time).

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James Haskell says DJing is more nerve wracking than playing for England

Duncan Bech 13/08/2018
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DJ and rugby star - James Haskell

James Haskell admits to being afflicted by greater nerves when DJing in front of young farmers in May than when he runs out at Twickenham for England.

Haskell was given the first extended summer break of his career when he was rested for the June tour to South Africa and the veteran flanker took the opportunity to complete a dance music production course, travel and recover from the previous season.

The most daunting moment came in May when he took to the decks as the headline DJ at the Nation Federation of Young Farmers Clubs Annual Convention in Blackpool.

“It was incredible and probably the closest thing to playing a game,” said Haskell, who is preparing for his debut season at Northampton.

“You walk out at Twickenham to 80,000 people and don’t notice the crowd. When I walked out in Blackpool – and I underestimated this – there were 4,000 people and me.

“Their whole night was being defined whether I played good or bad music so when they start reacting well, it’s the best feeling in the world.

“When you DJ and play great music it makes you feel a million dollars, which is quite a nice experience.

“For the first time in my career I have had five weeks off, so maximised that. I followed the guys in South Africa, but I haven’t had too much to concern myself with.

“I’ve looked after my body and tried to switch off. Having been at Wasps for 12 years in total, I wanted to make sure I started at Saints in a good place.”

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Danny Cipriani vows to "do everything I can" to keep the England No10 jersey

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Danny Cipriani shakes hands with England coach Eddie Jones

Danny Cipriani has vowed to “do everything I can” to remain firmly in the England picture after making his first Test match start for 10 years.

Cipriani ended England’s summer tour of South Africa in the number 10 shirt, helping them beat the Springboks in Cape Town.

He also has a new club, reporting for Gloucester training last week and relishing being a driving force at the west country giants after leaving their Premiership rivals Wasps.

With the next Rugby World Cup just over a year away, the new season could prove a definitive one in 30-year-old Cipriani’s career.

Asked if he had returned from South Africa hungrier than ever, he said: “Yeah, definitely.

“But you’ve seen me for the last six seasons. I’ve been hungry and my focus hasn’t changed at all.”

Cipriani ended the three-Test tour with a tangible reward of an England starting place, and is fresh from a three-day training camp with Eddie Jones’ squad.

“My philosophy hasn’t changed,” he added. “I am trying to become a better Rugby player, and I’m in the right place to keep learning and play well.

“I’ve got back in. Right now, I’m in there, and I’ve got to do everything I can to stay there.”

Cipriani has settled seamlessly into life at Kingsholm, and he is relishing striking up a rapport with Gloucester fans he knows all about after a hostile reception as a visiting player in Wasps and Sale colours.

“It was just banter,” he said. “They used to shout out my ex-girlfriends’ names at me. It used to make me laugh.

“It’s such a tradition here at Gloucester – the Shed (terrace) – playing in front of it and the history behind it. I want to really do something special for this town, because if you get on a roll here, the whole of Gloucester just goes crazy.

“I will definitely be playing up to them – kissing the badge when I score!”

Cipriani’s move to Gloucester surprised some – he had been consistently linked with top French clubs – but he has no doubt it was the right call.

“I had the luxury of signing pretty late,” he added. “Most teams had done their recruitment by then, so I could see who had recruited well and what the squads looked like.

“There is so much talent here, and what I have really learnt to do over the last few years is help the players around me play well. That’s what I will be trying to do here.

“When I met Johan (Ackermann, Gloucester head coach) and David (Humphreys, Rugby director) at the end of the season, that’s when I knew this felt like the right decision.

“I had been waiting for that (England) squad announcement, and when that happened I met Johan and David and knew that this was the place for me.”

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