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Stormers and Bulls make midseason player swap

By Josh Raisey
Wandisile Simelane of South Africa during the South Africa training session at St Stithians College on July 04, 2021 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

Former Junior Springbok Wandisile Simelane is set to join the Stormers from the Bulls in a midseason swap, with centre Cornet Smit moving the other way.

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The 25-year-old centre is set to start training with the 2022 United Rugby Championship winners next week and will be available immediately as he seeks to revive his career. Simelane’s game time at the Bulls had been limited ever since arriving in 2022, but he is highly regarded in South Africa and has been part of Springboks squads in the past without being capped.

After his move was announced, Simelane said: “The DHL Stormers are a great team to watch and I can’t wait to see what I can do in that system, surrounded by some top players and coaches.

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WATCH a Springbok utility Grant Williams chats to @king365ed about the URC crunch encounter with the Lions in Durban on Saturday

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WATCH a Springbok utility Grant Williams chats to @king365ed about the URC crunch encounter with the Lions in Durban on Saturday

“This is a big move for me and I’ll be doing all I can to integrate into the squad and add value as soon as possible.”

His new head coach John Dobson said: “Wandisile is an incredibly talented player who is looking for a new start and we are happy to give him the opportunity to grow here where he will be competing with some top players already in our system.

“We pride ourselves on helping players get their careers on the right trajectory in our environment and we all know the huge potential he has, so hopefully we can help him realise that here.

“Of course with Ruhan Nel ruled out with a long-term injury the timing is perfect for us and we hope to see Wandile hit the ground running,” he said.

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Dobson also thanked Smit for his time with the Stormers, saying: “Cornel is a product of our system and a talented player who has added immense value both on and off the field here.

“He has been competing for places with some top midfielders, which has meant that has hasn’t got the gametime he would have liked or that he deserves, given his talent and dedication.

“Unfortunately we couldn’t make him any guarantees, but he is a top man who will strengthen any squad and he leaves with our best wishes.”

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Poorfour 4 hours ago
The AI advantage: How the next two Rugby World Cups will be won

AI models are really just larger and less transparent variants of the statistical models that have been in use since Moneyball was invented. And a big difference between the Icahn centre’s results and AI today is that ChatGPT-like Large Language Models can explain (to some degree) how they reached their conclusions. In terms of what impact they will have, I suspect it will have two primary impacts: 1) It will place a premium on coaching creativity 2) It will lead to more selections that baffle fans and pundits. Analysts will be able to run the models both ways: they will see their own team’s and players’ weaknesses and strengths as well as the opposition’s. So they will have a good idea at what the other team will be targeting and the decisive difference may well be which coaches are smart enough to think of a gameplan that the other side didn’t identify and prepare for. For players, it places a premium on three key things: 1) Having a relatively complete game with no major weaknesses (or the dedication to work on eliminating them) 2) Having the tactical flexibility to play a different game every week 3) Having a point of difference that is so compelling that there isn’t a defence for it. (3) is relatively rare even among pro players. There have been only a handful of players over the years where you knew what they were going to do and the problem was stopping it - Lomu would be the classic example. And even when someone does have that, it’s hard to sustain. Billy Vunipola in his prime was very hard to stop, but fell away quite badly when the toll on his body began to accumulate. So coaches will look for (1) - a lack of exploitable weaknesses - and (2) - the ability to exploit others’ weaknesses - ahead of hoping for (3), at least for the majority of the pack. Which is likely to mean that, as with the original Moneyball, competent, unshowy players who do the stuff that wins matches will win out over outrageous talents who can’t adapt to cover their own weaknesses. Which will leave a lot of people on the sidelines sputtering over the non-inclusion of players whose highlights reels are spectacular, but whose lowlight reels have been uncovered by AI… at least until the point where every fan has access to a sporting analysis AI.

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