De Villiers to complete comeback against Argentina

Sport360 staff 09:37 06/08/2015
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Comeback: De Villiers.

Jean de Villiers will continues his amazing recovery from a career-threatening injury when he leads South Africa against Argentina on Saturday in the Rugby Championship.

The 34-year-old centre had a knee reconstructed after a horrific injury in Wales last November and played off the bench for the Springboks in an exhibition match last month.

He continued his comeback with two appearances for his province while South Africa suffered narrow southern hemisphere championship losses to Australia and world champions New Zealand.

Coach Heyneke Meyer got a thumbs-up from team doctors this week regarding De Villiers and chose him to partner Damian de Allende at centre for the Kings Park stadium Test against the Pumas in Durban.

De Villiers starts at outside centre rather than his traditional inside centre slot, but that will not matter to a star desperate to prove his fitness ahead of the mid-September Rugby World Cup kick-off.

“The comeback of Jean is truly remarkable and inspirational,” Meyer said after announcing his team in the Indian Ocean city of Durban yesterday.

“I cannot wait to see what he has to offer playing next to youngsters like Damian, Jesse Kriel and Handre Pollard. Jean now has 160 minutes of rugby behind him since his comeback a month ago and I am satisfied that he will be able to make his mark as a player and captain.”

The matchday 23 for the clash with the Pumas shows eight changes – seven personnel and one positional – to that which lost 27-20 to New Zealand in Johannesburg two Saturdays ago.

De Villiers, tighthead prop Vincent Koch and flanker Marcell Coetzee come into the team for winger Cornal Hendricks and an injured duo, prop Jannie du Plessis and loose forward Francois Louw.

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Kriel, who has gone from fringe player to regular starter since being called up to the squad for the first time this season, moves from outside centre to the right wing to accommodate De Villiers.

Left winger Lwazi Mvovo, tighthead prop Marcel van der Merwe, lock Pieter-Steph du Toit and flanker Siya Kolisi are called up to the bench.

The quartet replace Lionel Mapoe, Koch, Flip van der Merwe and injured Warren Whiteley for the final-round Championship clash.

Meyer said star scrum-half Fourie du Preez and flanker Willem Alberts were considered for selection after lengthy injury absences, but the coach opted to give them more recovery time.

“They are not 100 per cent ready yet so we decided against risking them in this match,” he added.

South Africa and Argentina are seeking a first Championship win of the season after both lost to Australia and New Zealand last month.

Pumas coach Daniel Hourcade will announce his starting line-up and replacements today. 

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Danny Cipriani available for Rugby World Cup after re-bail

Sport360 staff 13:25 04/08/2015
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Back in action: Danny Cipriani.

Danny Cipriani is set to be available for selection in England's World Cup squad after he was re-bailed until November following his arrest on suspicion of drink-driving.

The Sale fly-half was unhurt in a collision between his Mercedes and a Toyota in the Chelsea area of west London shortly after 5:00am (0400 GMT) on June 1.

He was given a breath test and taken to a west London police station before being released on bail. A Metropolitan Police spokeswoman said at the time: "Police were called at approximately 5.15am on Monday, 1 June to reports of two cars in collision in Imperial Road, SW6.

"No reports of any injuries. The cars involved were a silver Toyota Prius and a black Mercedes C63. The driver of the Mercedes, a 27-year-old man, was arrested on suspicion of drink driving.

"He was taken to a west London police station where he was later released on police bail."

Britain's Press Association agency said Tuesday a police spokesman had told them that the 27-year-old Cipriani had been re-bailed to a date in mid-November pending further inquiries.

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That means Cipriani should be available for the World Cup, which ends on October 31. Cipriani — vying for a No 10 spot behind first-choice stand-off George Ford — is still a member of England's World Cup training squad, which will be a cut to 31 for the tournament proper before coach Stuart Lancaster's side face Fiji in the opening match at Twickenham on September 18. Lancaster said on June 23: "(I am) waiting to see what the police investigation will determine.

"At the moment he's not been charged with anything so as a consequence is in camp and training as everyone else is. "We'll wait and see whether the police will charge or not as the case may be and I'll deal with it as and when it's appropriate."

Lancaster has already dropped hooker Dylan Hartley, after he received a four-match suspension for headbutting an opponent, and centre Manu Tuilagi, who was convicted of shoving two police officers in a fight, from tournament hosts England's squad for the World Cup.

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Adam Goodes returns after wave of public support

Robert Smith 08:35 04/08/2015
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Welcome back: Adam Goodes.

Adam Goodes will return to training after the Sydney Swans star was left humbled by the support received after booing of him was slammed as racist.

Goodes, who is Australia’s most high-profile indigenous sportsmen, ruled himself out of last the game against Adelaide, sparking fears he may call it quits after being the target of a barrage of boos throughout this season.

“I spoke to Adam and he’s intending to come and train and be available for selection this week,” Sydney Swans coach John Longmire said. “He was incredibly humbled by the support he received over the weekend.

“I don’t think he had intentions to watch the game, but he ended up watching the final three quarters and couldn’t believe the amount of support that he had. We as a football club are just incredibly grateful for the amount of support from the football community.”

Australia’s race discrimination commissioner said last week the abuse of Goodes, 35, had gone beyond sport and become a blight on the country, and a campaign on social media, ‘IStandWithAdam’, quickly gained momentum.

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Australians posted messages of support and photographs of themselves with Goodes’ playing No37 on Twitter, in a campaign backed by Australian actors Cate Blanchett, Hugh Jackman and Hugo Weaving.

Almost 40,000 people at the SCG raised their voices in unison to cheer Goodes in an emotionally charged game between the Swans and the Adelaide Crows.

The stadium was dotted with Aboriginal flags and fans wearing the No37, while others raised homemade signs including “Love Goodes, racism bad”.

Many believe the jeering was racially motivated and stemmed from Goodes’ reaction after being called an ape by a 13-year-old spectator at the MCG in 2013. 

The abuse intensified after he performed an Aboriginal war dance during a match in May.

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