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Champions Team named to take on Italy A but there's a twist

By Rugby365
Cornal Hendricks of the Vodacom Bulls during the Castle Lager Lions Series match at the Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town, South Africa. Picture date: Saturday July 17, 2021. (Photo by Steve Haag/PA Images via Getty Images)

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There’s a rather ironic twist to the named Strong Carling Champions Team, a fan voted composite side who will take on Italy A on Saturday at Nelson Mandela Bay stadiun.

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Pumas head coach Jimmy Stonehouse will be leading some of the most promising young players on the regional provincial scene, but none of his Pumas players – have made the cut.

Along with his provincial management group, Stonehouse takes command after his Pumas defeated Griquas to win the Currie Cup for the first time in their history on Saturday in Kimberley.

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However, there are no Pumas players in the starting XV. They are only represented on the bench in the form of Dewald Maritz, Shane Kirkwood, Willie Engelbrecht and Devon Williams. The players were chosen by their supporters to make up the Champions Team, not Stonehouse.

There are also no Griquas players in the matchday squad.

Included in the side are two Springboks in Cornal Hendricks (centre) and Embrose Papier (scrumhalf), while players such as Victor Sekekete (lock), Nama Xaba (loose forward), Clayton Blommetjies (fullback) and Robert Ebersohn (centre) will provide valuable experience as they prepare to face the Italians.

Hendricks, Ebersohn, Blommetjies and Angelo Davids are the four players in the squad who have represented the BlitzBoks.

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Furthermore, three players are back from last year’s Champions Team, which beat Kenya at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria. They are WP’s Xaba, and the Bulls duo of Keagan Johannes (scrumhalf) and Simphiwe Matanzima (prop).

Champions Team: 15 Clayton Blommetjies (Cheetahs), 14 Daniel Kasende (Cheetahs), 13 David Brits (Cheetahs), 12 Cornal Hendricks (Bulls), 11 Angelo Davids (WP), 10 Siya Masuku (Cheetahs), 9 Keagan Johannes (Bulls), 8 Mihlali Mosi (Cheetahs), 7 Sibusiso Sangweni (Lions), 6 Nama Xaba (WP), 5 Janko Swanepoel (Bulls), 4 Victor Sekekete (Cheetahs), 3 Robert Hunt (Bulls), 2 Marnus van der Merwe (Cheetahs), 1 Simphiwe Matanzima (Bulls).
Replacements: 16 Dan Jooste (Sharks), 17 Dewald Maritz (Pumas), 18 Kwenzo Blose (WP), 19 Shane Kirkwood (Pumas), 20 Willie Engelbrecht (Pumas), 21 Embrose Papier (Bulls), 22 Tristan Leyds (WP), 23 Devon Williams (Pumas).

Additional players: Eduan Swart (Pumas), Keke Morabe (WP), Andries Fouche (Pumas), Sanele Nohamba (Lions), Theo Boshoff (Griquas), Robert Ebersohn (Cheetahs), Alwayno Visagie (Pumas).

Date: Saturday, July 2
Venue: Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth
Kick-off: 19.30 (19.30 Italy time; 17.30 GMT)
Referee: TBC
Assistant referees: TBC
TMO: TBC

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