Kolisi at 8 as Stormers pick Welsh trump card
In an intriguing move from a Springbok perspective, national skipper Siya Kolisi will run out in the No 8 jersey for the Stormers in their Super Rugby opener against the Hurricanes at Newlands on Saturday.
Kolisi was picked in the position for Superhero Sunday a fortnight ago and seemed to enjoy some of the extra space on attack, but it also takes away from his cleaning abilities.
Whether the 28-year-old is considered a possible successor to Duane Vermeulen in the Bok jersey remains to be seen.
Meanwhile, Welsh legend Jamie Roberts has slotted straight into the starting line-up, which includes a vaunted Bok front row.
“We are very excited about the team that we are putting out this weekend and the potential for us to make a good start to the last season at Newlands.
“We want to play the kind of rugby that will make our supporters smile and that starts on Saturday against the Hurricanes,” said coach John Dobson.
Stormers: Dillyn Leyds, Sergeal Petersen, Ruhan Nel, Jamie Roberts, Seabelo Senatla, Damian Willemse, Herschel Jantjies, Siya Kolisi (c), Pieter-Steph du Toit, Jaco Coetzee, Chris van Zyl, Salmaan Moerat, Frans Malherbe, Bongi Mbonambi, Steven Kitshoff. Bench: Scarra Ntubeni, Ali Vermaak, Wilco Louw, David Meihuizen, Ernst van Rhyn, Johan du Toit, Godlen Masimla, Rikus Pretorius. – Sport Staff.
North is Wales’ centre of attention against Italy
George North has been moved to centre for Wales’ Six Nations opener at home to Italy on Saturday.
Best known as a powerhouse wing, North slots into midfield to replace injured centre Jonathan Davies for what will be new coach Wayne Pivac’s first full international in charge.
Pivac has given a Test debut to Scarlets wing Johnny McNicholl, while fit-again No 8 Taulupe Faletau returns for the reigning Grand Slam champions.
Former Scarlets boss Pivac has succeeded Warren Gatland after his fellow New Zealander stood down after last year’s Rugby World Cup in Japan, where the Welsh made it to the semi-finals before losing to eventual champions South Africa.
Wales: Leigh Halfpenny; Johnny McNicholl, George North, Hadleigh Parkes, Josh Adams, Dan Biggar, Tomos Williams; Taulupe Faletau, Justin Tipuric, Aaron Wainwright; Alun Wyn Jones (capt), Jake Ball; Dillon Lewis, Ken Owens, Wyn Jones. Bench: Ryan Elias, Rob Evans, Leon Brown, Cory Hill, Ross Moriarty, Rhys Webb, Jarrod Evans, Nick Tompkins. – AFP.
Hastings steps in for Russell for Scotland Six Nations opener
Flyhalf Adam Hastings has been given the task of replacing Finn Russell while Edinburgh number eight Nick Haining will make his debut as Scotland kick-off their Six Nations campaign against Ireland on Saturday.
Russell was told he would not be involved at the Aviva Stadium after being disciplined following a drinking session.
It is unclear whether the Racing 92 star will feature at all during this year’s championship but Hastings will get his chance to impress after being handed the number 10 jersey for the Dublin opener.
Australian-born Haining will win his first cap against Andy Farrell’s team while Edinburgh prop Rory Sutherland will make his first international appearance in three-and-a-half years.
Back-rower Hamish Watson and scrum-half Ali Price — both injured in the Scots’ opening World Cup clash with Ireland in September — make their return to Gregor Townsend’s team while there is also a comeback for Huw Jones at centre after he missed the cut for the tournament in Japan.
The match will also see Stuart Hogg lead out the team for the first time since being handed the Scotland captaincy on a permanent basis.
Scotland: Stuart Hogg (c); Sean Maitland, Huw Jones, Sam Johnson, Blair Kinghorn; Adam Hastings, Ali Price; Nick Haining, Hamish Watson, Jamie Ritchie; Jonny Gray, Scott Cummings; Zander Fagerson, Fraser Brown, Rory Sutherland. Bench: Stuart McInally, Allan Dell, Simon Berghan, Ben Toolis, Cornell du Preez, George Horne, Rory Hutchinson, Chris Harris.
Hamilton says he has not spoken to Mercedes about a new deal
Lewis Hamilton says he has not spoken to Mercedes about signing a new contract as he prepares to launch his bid to equal Michael Schumacher’s record of seven drivers’ championship titles.
The British driver’s £40 million ($52 million)-a-season deal expires at the end of the year and he has been linked with a move to Ferrari.
Reports in Italy say talks over a contract extension between Hamilton and Mercedes boss Toto Wolff have stalled.
But in a post to Instagram which he later deleted, Hamilton wrote: “Toto and I have not even spoken about contract yet. Nothing is being negotiated currently.”
Both Ferrari and Red Bull have moved to tie Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen respectively to long-term deals during Formula One’s off-season.
But Hamilton, who has spent much of the winter break in the United States, is unlikely to rush into a decision on his future. – AFP.
ASA, SABC strike deal to broadcast top SA marathons
Athletics South Africa (ASA) and the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) have announced an agreement to broadcast several top athletics events during the 2020 season.
The agreement, which was signed at the SABC offices in Auckland Park on Wednesday, will see the SABC producing and broadcasting marathons, track and field and road running events.
The marathons that SABC and ASA will bring to South Africans include the Cape Town Marathon, Two Oceans Marathon, Comrades Marathon, Nelson Mandela Marathon and Soweto Marathon.
Aleck Skhosana, the President of Athletics South Africa said: “We would like to thank the Group Chief Executive Officer and the Chief Operations Officer of the SABC for working tirelessly with ASA to safeguard the success of the deal between the two parties. The success of this partnership will return athletics to its deserved status of visibility, giving athletes exposure and bringing the sport to the rest of the athletics family.” – News24 Wire.
New Zealand injured pace trio ruled out of India ODIs
Struggling New Zealand will have their bowling stocks further tested after their three leading seamers were ruled out from the squad named Thursday for the one-day series against India.
New Zealand’s fortunes have plummeted since making the World Cup final last year, losing three Tests against Australia and three Twenty20s against India.
Pace bowlers Trent Boult (broken hand), Lockie Ferguson (calf strain) and Matt Henry (broken thumb), who were all injured in Australia, have not recovered in time for the three ODIs against India which start next week after the final two Twenty20 fixtures.
Kyle Jamieson has been called into the squad for the first time while Scott Kuggeleijn and Hamish Bennett are recalled after last playing ODIs in Ireland in 2017. – AFP.
Grieving Lakers return to training after Bryant’s death
The Los Angeles Lakers, reeling from the death of team icon Kobe Bryant, “want to represent what Kobe was about” as they press ahead with the NBA season, coach Frank Vogel said Wednesday.
“We want to represent what Kobe was about more than anything,” Vogel said. “We’ve always wanted to make him proud, and that’s not going to be any different here.”
Vogel, 46, spoke to reporters at the team’s practice facility, where star players including LeBron James and Anthony Davis turned out but did not meet with the media.
Vogel said the club had a simple directive for players still coming to terms with Bryant’s death in a helicopter crash on Sunday: “You guys can speak when you’re ready, and not before.” – AFP.