No Watson for global gladiators

The World XV have not included Stormers flank Luke Watson in a powerful squad to play matches against the Springboks and a Western Province XV.

Watson told keo.co.za earlier this month that he would be playing for the World side against the Boks. The former SA U21 captain hoped to prove a point against Schalk Burger at Ellis Park, but his name was missing from the official squad announced on Tuesday.

Keo.co.za has learnt that Western Province director of coaching Nick Mallett would not release Watson for the matches.

Another Bok hopeful, Gloucester flank Jake Boer, has also not been included in the squad, although he’s been struggling with injury.

One South African who could use the World XV matches to force his way into Jake White’s squad is former Bok prop Cobus Visagie, who’s been in outstanding form for Saracens this season.

The World XV, coached by 1991 Australian World Cup winning coach Bob Dwyer, will meet a Bok XV at Ellis Park in Johannesburg on Saturday 3 June before travelling to Cape Town for the Corne Krige testimonial match at Newlands on Friday 9 June.

The World XV kicked off its three-match programme with a 64-14 win over a Saracens XV in Richard Hill’s testimonial match at Vicarage Road in London on Sunday.

The squad reads like an international “who’s who” with the bulk of players representing New Zealand, Australia, France and England.

The back division boasts the likes of All Blacks Carlos Spencer, Justin Marshall, and Bruce Reihana, Wallabies Matt Burke and Joe Roff, French internationals Thomas Castaignede and Cedric Debrosse, and Irish international David Humphreys.

A host of international stars fill the forward ranks amongst them Visagie, French front-rankers Christian Califano and Rafael Ibanez, and loose forwards Olivier Magne and Sebastien Chabal, Englishmen Mark Regan and Tom Palmer, Australians Owen Finegan and Toutai Kefu and All Black Xavier Rush.

Dwyer, who will be assisted by Welsh Six Nations’ winning coach Mike Ruddock and former All Black Craig Dowd, is looking forward to a good tour.

“We are fortunate that many great players have made themselves available for this tour,” he said. “They showed their class in the Saracens game and will no doubt be determined to keep the momentum on tour. We expect two tough games in South Africa against some of their top players.”

The World XV will arrive in South Africa on 30 May.

World XV squad:

Backs – Carlos Spencer (Northampton & New Zealand), Bruce Reihana (Northampton & New Zealand), Justin Marshall (Ospreys & New Zealand), Mark Robinson (Northampton & New Zealand), Matt Burke (Newcastle & Australia), David Humphreys (Ulster & Ireland), Thomas Castaignede (Saracens & France), Fraser Waters (Wasps & England), Joe Roff (Kuboto & Australia), Isa Nacewa (Auckland Blues), Cedric Debrosse (Narbonne & France).

Forwards – Christian Califano (Gloucester & France), Dave Hewett (Edinburgh & New Zealand), Andrea Lo Cicero (L’Aquila & Italy), Peter Bracken (Wasps), Mark Regan (Bristol & England), Raphael Ibanez (Wasps & France), Tom Palmer (Wasps & England), Cobus Visagie (Saracens & South Africa), Owen Finegan (Newcastle & Australia), Olivier Magne (London Irish & France), Sam Harding (Northampton), Xavier Rush (Cardiff & New Zealand), Toutai Kefu (Kuboto & Australia), Sebastian Chabal (Sale & France), Julien Pierre (Bourgoin).