CAPE TOWN – The 2019 Super Rugby competition kicks off this weekend. Here is what you should know about the teams in the South African Conference:
Coach: Pote Human (first year)
Captain: Lood de Jager
Last year: 12th (W-6, L-10)
Best performance: Champions (2007, 2009, 2010)
World Cup watch:
Handre Pollard came through the last campaign relatively unscathed and the gifted flyhalf's health and wellbeing will be of paramount concern for the Springboks ahead of the World Cup in Japan. At least 12 of the Bulls squad will be chasing a place in the squad, with the battle for a scrumhalf berth between team mates Embrose Papier and Ivan van Zyl among the more intriguing.
Forwards – Tim Agaba, Mathys Basson, Thembelani Boli, Schalk Brits, Lood de Jager, Nic de Jager, Carel du Preez, Lizo Gqoboka, Johan Grobbelaar, Jason Jenkins, Jannes Kirsten, Hanro Liebenberg, Mador Mabokela, Edgar Marutlulle, Simphiwe Matanzima, Nqoba Mxoli, Trevor Nyakane, Paul Schoeman, Roelof Smit, RG Snyman, Hendre Stassen, Ruan Steenkamp, Muller Uys, Dayan van der Westhuizen, Marco van Staden, Conraad van Vuuren, Frans van Wyk, Jano Venter, Duane Vermeulen, Jaco Visagie.
Backs – Marnitz Boshoff, Warrick Gelant, Cornal Hendricks, Travis Ismaiel, JT Jackson, Jesse Kriel, Johnny Kotze, Manie Libbok, Theo Maree, Duncan Matthews, Franco Naude, Burger Odendaal, Embrose Papier, Handre Pollard, Divan Rossouw, Dylan Sage, Rosko Specman, Jade Stighling, Ivan van Zyl, Andre Warner.
JAGUARES (Buenos Aires)
Coach: Gonzalo Quesada (first year)
Captain: Jeronimo de la Fuente
Last year: 7th (W-9, L-7)
Best performance: Quarter-finals (2018)
World Cup watch:
The Jaguars will form the majority of the Argentina side at the World Cup, so all members of the squad are fighting for their ticket to Japan. There will be interest in the form of 51-cap fullback Joaquin Tuculet, who missed the 2018 season through injury. Props Mayco Vivas and Lucio Sordoni, lock Lucas Paulos, flanker Santiago Grondona, centre Santiago Chocobares and outside backs Ignacio Mendy and Santiago Carreras, have been added to the squad from Argentina's Under-20 side. They will be looking to force their way into the thoughts of national team coach Mario Ledesma, who has been replaced at the Jaguares by Gonzalo Quesada.
Forwards – Matias Alemanno, Gaspar Balduncier, Santiago Garcia Botta, Rodrigo Bruni, Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, Agustin Creevy, Javier Ortega Desio, Javier Diaz, Diego Fortuny, Santiago Grondona, Marcos Kremer, Tomas Lavanini, Juan Manuel Leguizamon, Tomas Lezana, Pablo Matera, Santiago Medrano, Franco Molina, Julian Montoya, Lucas Paulos, Guido Petti, Enrique Pieretto, Lucio Sordoni, Mayco Vivas, Juan Pablo Zeiss.
Backs – Gonzalo Bertranou, Emiliano Boffelli, Joaquin Diaz Bonilla, Sebastian Cancelliere, Santiago Carreras, Santiago Chocobares, Tomas Cubelli, Jeronimo de la Fuente, Bautista Delguy, Bautista Ezcurra, Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias, Martin Landajo, Juan Cruz Mallia, Ignacio Mendy, Domingo Miotti, Matias Moroni, Ramiro Moyano, Matias Orlando, Joaquin Tuculet.
Coach: 2nd (W-9, L-7)
Best performance: Runners-up (2016, 2017, 2018)
World Cup watch:
All eyes will be on flyhalf Elton Jantjies, who has not been able to translate his Super Rugby form over the last few years onto the international stage. But he remains the number two flyhalf for the Springboks behind Handre Pollard and is an important squad player. Fullback Andries Coetzee and scrumhalf Ross Cronje need strong seasons after their grip on the Springboks jersey slipped in 2018. Hooker Malcolm Marx will at times need to be wrapped in cotton wool during the season, such is his importance to South Africa.
Forwards - Jacobie Adriaanse, Cyle Brink, Jan-Henning Campher, Robbie Coetzee, Hacjivah Dayimani, Jo-Hanco de Villiers, Andries Ferreira, Chergin Fillies, Rhyno Herbst, Pieter Jansen, Johannes Jonker, Robert Kruger, Stephan Lewies, Malcolm Marx, Len Massyn, Nathan McBeth, Reinhard Nothnagel, Marvin Orie, Carlu Sadie, Marnus Schoeman, Danie Mienie, Sithembiso Sithole, Dylan Smith, Kwagga Smith, Peter-John Steenkamp, Vincent Tshituka, Frans van Wyk, James Venter, Ruan Vermaak, Warren Whiteley.
Backs - Andries Coetzee, Ruan Combrinck, Ross Cronje, Aphiwe Dyantyi, Eddie Fouche, Tyrone Green, Nic Groom, Elton Jantjies, Jan-Louis La Grange, Gianni Lombard, Sylvian Mahuza, Lionel Mapoe, Manuel Rass, Shaun Reynolds, Courtnall Skosan, Madosha Tambwe, Morné van den Berg, Wayne van der Bank, Louritz van der Schyff, Wandisile Simelane, Dillon Smit, Bradley Thain, Harold Vorster.
Coach: Robert du Preez (third year)
Captain: Louis Schreuder
Last year: 8th (W-7, D-1, L-8)
Best performance: Runners-up (1996, 2001, 2007, 2012)
World Cup watch:
South Africa coach Rassie Erasmus has spoken often of his need to have versatile players at the World Cup and that is why he will be keeping a close eye on Sharks back Curwin Bosch. The 21-year-old already has two Springboks caps and can cover the flyhalf and fullback positions, with a reliable boot for good measure. Lukhanyo Am needs to re-establish himself as a potential starting centre for the Springboks, while the wide trio of Makazole Mapimpi, Lwazi Mvovo and Sibusiso Nkosi are likely playing for two tickets to Japan. Louis Schreuder, captain of the Sharks this season, will want to force his name into the reckoning for a Springboks scrum-half berth.
Forwards – Hyron Andrews, Ruan Botha, Phendulani Buthelezi, Kwanda Dimaza, Daniel du Preez, Jean-Luc du Preez, Thomas du Toit, Andrew Evans, Gideon Koegelenberg, Mzamo Majola, Fezokuhle Mbatha, Khuthuzani Mchunu, John-Hubert Meyer, Tendai Mtawarira, Tera Mtembu, Coenie Oosthuizen, Tyler Paul, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Dylan Richardson, Juan Schoeman, Luke Stringer, Akker van der Merwe, JJ van der Mescht, Philip van der Walt, Ruben van Heerden, Jacques Vermuelen, Wian Vosloo.
Backs – Lukhanyo Am, Curwin Bosch, Muller du Plessis, Robert du Preez, Andre Esterhuizen, Aphelele Fassi, Marius Louw, Makazole Mapimpi, Lwazi Mvovo, Sibusiso Nkosi, Sanele Nohamba, Louis Schreuder, Rhyno Smith, Kobus van Wyk, Jeremy Ward, Grant Williams, Courtney Winnaar, Cameron Wright, Leolin Zas.
STORMERS (Cape Town)
Coach: Robbie Fleck (fourth year)
Captain: Siya Kolisi
Last year: 11th (W-6, L-10)
Best performance: Runners-up (2010)
World Cup watch:
A number of South Africa’s key players form part of the Stormers squad and just how the likes of captain Siya Kolisi, locks Eben Etzebeth and Pieter-Steph du Toit, and props Steven Kitshoff and Frans Malherbe, will be managed through the season will be of great interest to Springboks coach Rassie Erasmus. He will also be following the form of Damian Willemse, the mercurial youngster who can fill in at flyhalf, fullback and centre and who has perhaps not yet shown his full potential. Rugby sevens standout Seabelo Senatla will be among the quickest players in Super Rugby this season and if he can improve his all-round game on the wing will be in Erasmus's thinking.
Forwards – Juarno Augustus, Kwenzo Blose, Jaco Coetzee, Johan du Toit, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Eben Etzebeth, Neethling Fouche, Corne Fourie, Michael Kumbirai, Wilcow Louw, Steven Kitshoff, Siya Kolisi, Frans Malherbe, Chris Massyn, Lee-Marvin Mazibuko, Bongi Mbonambi, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Scarra Ntubeni, Salmaan Moerat, Ramon Samuels, JD Schickerling, Chad Solomon, Kobus van Dyk, Ernst van Rhyn, Chris van Zyl, Alistar Vermaak, Cobus Wiese, Nama Xaba.
Backs – Craig Barry, Damian de Allende, Paul de Wet, Dan du Plessis, Jean-Luc du Plessis, JJ Engelbrecht, Herschel Jantjies, Dan Kriel, Dillyn Leyds, SP Marais, Sergeal Petersen, Justin Phillips, Seabelo Senatla, Joshua Stander, Ruhan Nel, Edwil van der Merwe, Duncan Saal, Jano Vermaak, EW Viljoen, Damian Willemse.Reuters