SPORTS DAY: Rassie keeps the faith in hard-charging Boks

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SPORTS DAY: Rassie keeps the faith in hard-charging Boks

Your roundup of the sporting news of the day

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RUGBY
Etzebeth back after injury
Following consecutive wins over France and Scotland‚ Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus gave his team the thumbs up by making just one change to the squad to play Wales at the Principality Stadium on Saturday. For the first time this season Erasmus retained the same starting team, but has reintroduced fit-again lock Eben Etzebeth to the bench at the expense of Lood de Jager for the last Test of the year. Etzebeth, who left the field injured in the 42nd minute in the opening Test of the tour against England‚ will be eased back, allowing Franco Mostert and RG Snyman to start their second straight Test in the second row.
Williams starts at fullback for Wales
Liam Williams has been chosen at fullback as Wales coach Warren Gatland restored Gareth Anscombe to the flyhalf berth. The Welsh are seeking a first-ever clean sweep of victories in the autumn tests with the enforced inclusion of Williams the only change from the side that beat Australia 9-6 a fortnight ago, ending a 13-game losing streak against the Wallabies.
Welsh to wear rainbow laces
Welsh players will wear rainbow laces in support of former captain Gareth Thomas after he was the victim of a homophobic assault. Thomas, 44, who came out as gay in 2009, posted a video on Twitter on Sunday saying he had been a victim of a hate crime in Cardiff “for my sexuality“.
George starts at hooker against Australia
England co-captain Dylan Hartley will start on the bench against Australia on Saturday with Jamie George wearing the hooker’s jersey, while Manu Tuilagi is set for his first appearance for two years after also being named among the replacements.
Pocock fit to face England
Wallabies ace David Pocock has overcome a fitness doubt to be included in Australia’s starting team to play England. But in a surprise move, Kurtley Beale has been left out of the team entirely – the first occasion in recent times that no place in the back division could be spared for the gifted playmaker when fit and available.
‘More cards for dangerous tackles’
World Rugby CEO Brett Gosper has urged referees to show more red and yellow cards in a continued effort to put an end to dangerous tackles in the game. “I would say in many ways we have probably not been hard enough,” said  Gasper, whose comments come after several contentious tackles during the November internationals, including England Owen Farrell’s tackle on SA’s Andre Esterhuizen which went unpunished despite a video review.
CRICKET
Proteas are world’s busiest team
How much preparation is enough‚ and how much is too much? The question is pertinent to teams who hope to go all the way at next year’s World Cup. SA can’t be accused of not doing their homework. No major team will play as many as the 10 one-day internationals they have scheduled before the tournament starts with their match against England at The Oval on May 30.
Australia pick two uncapped players
Australia have named two uncapped players in an inexperienced squad to take on India next month in their first home series since Steve Smith and David Warner were banned for a year following the ball-tampering scandal. Opening batsman Marcus Harris and paceman Chris Tremain were included in the 14-man squad announced on Thursday.
SOCCER
Solinas upbeat ahead of derby
Saturday’s Soweto derby is not just a game, it is “The Game”‚ Kaizer Chiefs coach Giovanni Solinas has said‚ even adding that it should be spelled with a capital G. “It is a very important game. And we arrive in this game much better than last time. Because last time we had players injured‚ we had players not training for five or six days.”
Mumble for PSL?
Changes are in the offing for local football administration with the imminent appointment of Russell Paul as the new chief executive officer of the SA Football Association and the possibility of his predecessor Dennis Mumble assuming same role at the Premier Soccer League.
Drogba announces retirement at 40
Former Chelsea striker Didier Drogba announced his retirement on Wednesday, calling time on a 20-year career in which the bullish centre forward won four Premier League titles and the 2012 Champions League. Drogba, who made than 100 appearances for Ivory Coast and was voted African footballer of the year twice, ended his playing days with Phoenix Rising where he was a player-owner.  “It’s the best way to end, helping some young talent to develop,” Drogba told the BBC.
TENNIS
Tsonga handed singles slot in Davis Cup final
France captain Yannick Noah sprang a surprise at Thursday’s Davis Cup final draw ceremony when he named Jeremy Chardy and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga as his singles players for the opening day’s action in Lille, leaving out the top-ranked player in his team Lucas Pouille. World number 40 Chardy will open the tie on Friday against Croatia’s Borna Coric (12th) with Tsonga (259th) then taking on Marin Cilic (7th).
MOTOR SPORT
Hamilton, Alonso happy to see Kubica return
Lewis Hamilton has welcomed news of Robert Kubica’s F1 comeback next season, not least because it made the five times world champion feel that little bit younger. Kubica, who will be 34 next month, was announced at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Thursday as a Williams driver for 2019. The Pole last raced in F1 in 2010.
ATHLETICS
Sprinter De Grasse ready to return
Andre De Grasse, hailed as sprinting’s next big thing after winning three medals at the 2016 Rio Olympics, says he’s ready to return to the starting blocks after two injury-disrupted seasons. “I’m 100% now so I am just looking forward to starting my season and getting ready for the world championships next September.”
- AFP, Reuters, TimesLIVE

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