South Africa winger Sbu Nkosi says he has been "curled up in a ball" amid his disappearance, after the World Cup winner was found "safe and sound".

The Bulls, Nkosi's domestic team, confirmed the 26-year-old had been found after discovering his whereabouts on Monday, with the club having had no contact with the player since mid-November.

Nkosi, a member of the Springboks team that claimed victory at the 2019 Rugby World Cup, was not revealed to be missing publicly until his team confirmed they had filed a report over the weekend.

But now he has revealed he has been staying with family, disclosing he has taken time away to deal with mental health struggles.

"I'm a lot better," he told News24. "There's obviously a lot to speak about that I can't say out loud, but my condition is improving.

"It's just been a whole lot of mental pressure. It's been building up for a couple of years now. 

"There's too much to go into: the expectations, the fact that by choosing to take care of myself right now, there are people I'm letting down, and that also hurts me.

"There's a lot, but I'm at a point where I need to prioritise the person before the rugby player right now. I just needed time. I've basically been curled up in a ball with my dad, and he's been managing my mental state daily."

Bulls CEO Edgar Rathbone revealed he met with Nkosi on Monday, and said the club would provide their full support to the winger over the coming period.

"We were thrilled to find Sbu and incredibly relieved to see that he was alive," he said in a statement. "Equally, we were saddened to see him in the state that he was in.

"I am however confident that we are in a good position to provide Sbu with the support he needs and that we should acknowledge his incredible courage to even say to us, that he is not okay.

"We are lucky today but tomorrow, our intervention may be too late and that is not something we want to see become a reality."

There is "grave worry" for Sbu Nkosi after the World Cup-winning winger was reported missing by his club the Bulls.

The 26-year-old flyer, who was in the South Africa squad that lifted the World Cup in Japan three years ago, has been absent without leave from the Pretoria-based club for three weeks.

Nkosi has been capped 16 times but missed the tour of Europe last month due to a rib injury.

A statement from his club said: "The Blue Bulls Company can confirm that Bulls contracted player Sbu Nkosi has been absent without leave for the past three weeks. Nkosi's last known contact with any executive, management or playing squad member is Friday 11 November 2022.

"After numerous failed attempts, which include but are not limited to phone calls, texts messages, calls to relatives, partner and close friends as well as four house visits to his known place of residence, the company took the decision to open a missing person case with the Brooklyn Police Station (which was subsequently transferred to Sunnyside Police Station), in Pretoria on Thursday 17 November 2022.

"This resulted from the grave worry and concern of everyone at Loftus as well as the need for the expert assistance of the South African Police Services.

"We appreciate both the public and media interest in the matter, as we all share the same concerns about the player's safety. However, we ask that you understand that we cannot make any further comments on the matter as it now sits with the South African Police Services."

England head coach Eddie Jones has hit back after criticism from Clive Woodward.

The team's former head coach called for England's situation – including Jones' position – to be "scrutinised" should they fail to beat Scotland in next year's Six Nations opener.

England suffered a 27-13 defeat to world champions South Africa on Saturday, having also recently been beaten by Argentina at Twickenham, with doubts growing over their credentials ahead of the 2023 Rugby World Cup following a poor showing during the Autumn internationals.

With just one win in November against Japan, England's schedule concluded with a loss to a Springboks team missing key European-based players.

Woodward led England to the 2003 Rugby World Cup crown and he believes Jones' position should be under threat ahead of the latest Rugby Football Union (RFU) review, writing in his Daily Mail column: "England are not just losing, they are going backwards at an alarming rate of knots.

"A full and totally transparent review must be done immediately to look into where the team are at. As head coach, Eddie Jones has serious questions to answer. Everything must be scrutinised."

 

Speaking to Men's Health UK, Jones issued a sharp response, claiming he is currently at the peak of his coaching powers.

"I feel sad for him [Woodward]," he said. "If that is the best thing he has to do in his life, then he hasn't a lot to do.

"I'm 62 now and I think in pure coaching terms I am coaching better than I ever have. Results aren't always perfect, but I'm happy with how I have been coaching.

"After this, I want to do something really meaningful. I've enjoyed England a lot, it was a bit of a rescue job at the start, now rebuilding, and I am confident I will leave things in good shape."

Jones has already said he will leave the role after next year's World Cup.

Babar Azam has put his success as Pakistan captain down to his attempts to replicate South Africa great AB de Villiers.

Azam will lead Pakistan in a three-match Test series against England, starting this week in Rawalpindi. It is the tourists' first red-ball match in the country since 2005.

The form of the skipper will be key to Pakistan's hopes of marking the occasion with a victory following another impressive year with the bat.

Azam is averaging 73.44 in Tests in 2022 after two centuries and four fifties in nine innings, and ahead of facing England, he revealed his inspiration in an interview with Sky Sports.

"To be honest, my role model is AB de Villiers because I love him and the way he is playing and the way he is playing all the shots," Azam said.

"When I see him on the TV, the next day I am trying every shot in the nets. I try to copy De Villiers and try to look and play like De Villiers because my ideal is everything he is."

De Villiers, who retired from all forms of international cricket in 2018, had a Test batting average of 50.66 and scored 22 hundreds in the longest format.

Meanwhile, Babar is relishing the chance to take on England on home soil, adding: "We are looking forward to a historic series, and first of all, welcome to the England team.

"I know a few of the boys already in T20 format and a few new faces, so I think they will enjoy it a lot. We are looking forward to the series and everyone is ready."

Eddie Jones should be sacked as England head coach if his side fail to beat Scotland in next year's Six Nations opener, says former boss Clive Woodward.

The Australian oversaw a 27-13 defeat to world champions to South Africa on Saturday, another chastening result for his side ahead of next year's Rugby World Cup following a loss to Argentina at Twickenham.

With just one win in November against Japan, England were well beaten by a Springboks team missing key European-based players,

Woodward, who masterminded the Red Rose's 2003 Rugby World Cup, believes Jones' position should be under threat ahead of the latest Rugby Football Union (RFU) review.

"England are not just losing, they are going backwards at an alarming rate of knots," he wrote in his Daily Mail column.

"A full and totally transparent review must be done immediately to look into where the team are at. As head coach, Eddie Jones has serious questions to answer. Everything must be scrutinised."

Woodward has pointed to the RFU's culpability too, in reference to a review panel that has assessed his tenure periodically.

The 66-year-old feels he should have been asked to investigate the incumbent head coach, while shooting down suggestions he wants a role within the governing body.

"Since 2019, when Jones' England failed to turn up in the World Cup final, this anonymous panel has conducted two utterly pointless reviews," he added.

"For reasons which have never been explained to me, I have never been invited to participate in any of these reviews. At the risk of sounding arrogant, I believe I am the most qualified Englishman to conduct an investigation.

"People might read that and think I'm angling for a job. Nothing could be further from the truth. The role as RFU director of rugby would have interested me 10 years ago, but that ship has long since sailed.

"Jones needs to feel some serious heat from his employers. I would say to him: 'Forget the next World Cup, if you lose your next game against Scotland in the Six Nations you're out of your job.'

"If Jones has to get paid off [through his contract], then so be it. Stop talking about the World Cup. It epitomises the cosy culture of English rugby and is a sure-fire way to keep your job no matter how poorly you perform.

England will face Scotland at Twickenham on February 4 to kick off their Six Nations campaign ahead of the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France.

England head coach Eddie Jones remains bullish about the side's future despite Saturday's poor 27-13 loss to South Africa rounding out their worst calendar year since 2008.

The loss at Twickenham means the 2019 World Cup runners-up lost six of 12 Tests in 2022, managing only one win from four games during their autumn campaign.

Jones' side finished with a 2-3 record in the Six Nations at the start of the year, while earlier this month they lost to Argentina for the first time since 2009.

England were barely at the races on Saturday, with tries to Kurt-Lee Arendse and Eben Etzebeth lifting the Springboks to a 27-6 lead before Henry Slade's late consolation score with Thomas du Toit red carded for a no arms tackle.

"We want to win," Jones told reporters. “We are judged by results but I feel there is growth in the team which wasn't evident today.

"We don't want to get beat by a big score to South Africa and don't want to have the worst record since 2008 so it is a problem but I accept full responsibility for that.

"Obviously on results we are not happy but I feel like we are building a really good base to have a really good go at the World Cup, a really good go.

"A number of young players got great experience today and they'll come back better players for that. We’ve got other players coming back to form, some of our more senior players and we're not far away. We need to develop consistently. Test match rugby is all about consistency."

Jones said that "nothing seemed to go right" against the Springboks, who beat England in the 2019 World Cup final.

The loss comes after England thrashed Japan 52-13 a fortnight ago, a win followed by last week's thrilling 25-25 draw with New Zealand at Twickenham where the side crossed three times in the final eight minutes.

"I think it is a bit of a watershed game for us and we came into the game with high expectations on how we wanted to play on the back of Japan and New Zealand," Jones said.

"In this game South Africa were a bit too tough in the scrum and the air and I know where we have to improve.

"Are we moving in the right direction towards the World Cup? Yes we are. I don't care what other people think. Obviously, we are disappointed with our performance but there are 11 months to the World Cup and I have no doubt we will rise to the occasion.

"We just didn't fire a shot as we wanted today. You have to win contests against the Springboks and we didn't win the air or the set piece. We lost two of the key contests and we have to improve in those areas."

South Africa cruised to a first away win over England since 2014 as the Springboks prevailed 27-13 at Twickenham despite being reduced to 14 men.

Meeting for the second time since the Boks beat England in the 2019 World Cup final, South Africa dictated the contest after falling behind early to Owen Farrell's penalty.

With director of rugby Rassie Erasmus absent due to his two-game ban for social media posts about alleged refereeing inconsistencies in the Springboks' 30-26 loss to France in Marseille, South Africa produced a convincing performance that backed up their status as favourites.

Faf de Klerk kicked six points in the first half, his two penalties sandwiched by a Damian Willemse drop goal and a sensational solo try from Kurt-Lee Arendse that saw him score for the sixth successive Test.

The visitors led 14-3 at half-time and, after Willemse and Farrell traded penalties, their command was furthered after England's Tom Curry was sin-binned.

Eben Etzebeth dotted down and De Klerk converted before knocking over another three-pointer, but South Africa's momentum was checked when Thomas du Toit was sent off for a no arms tackle on Luke Cowan-Dickie.

Henry Slade took advantage to score England's sole try, but that was scant consolation at the end of a game that suggested the gap between the two 2019 finalists has widened.

England have "more clarity" than they did a year ago on who they are as a team under Eddie Jones, says winger Jonny May ahead of their clash with South Africa.

The hosts welcome the Springboks to face them at Twickenham in a rematch of the 2019 Rugby World Cup final, less than a year out from the 2023 tournament in France.

It has been a hit-and-miss November international break for Jones' men so far, with a win, a loss and a draw to their name, the latter in a thrilling 25-25 encounter with New Zealand.

But May believes they are starting to take shape ahead of next year's campaign, as England look to win a first World Cup for two decades across the channel.

"I think we have got more clarity in what we are trying to be and what we are, from this time last year," he told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"We are trying to be an adaptable team, a smart team, a team that still has all the traditional aspects of English rugby, but can play in slightly different ways.

"There are so many variables. You need to be a team that understands the story and the theme of a game and can adapt to weather, referees, injuries, television match officials and then take your chances in the game.

"That is what we are trying to achieve, and it is difficult. We talk about the top eight in the world being very close together, and I think the team that can break out of that pack will be an all-round package."

Having rallied late on to earn their draw with New Zealand, hooker Jamie George is hopeful England can channel the Twickenham energy they closed the game out with into a successful result against South Africa.

"The atmosphere at the end of that game was unbelievable, some of the best atmosphere I have played rugby in," he added to the BBC's Rugby Union Weekly. "We on the field need to give people things to shout about.

"We want to be able to do that for 80 minutes against South Africa and get Twickenham bouncing again."

Bryan Habana has defended Eddie Jones' record as England head coach, suggesting he could finally break his World Cup duck at next year's 2023 tournament.

The Australian will see his side conclude the November international break against South Africa this weekend in a replay of the 2019 Rugby World Cup final.

Jones has come under fire for his side's recent performances, with a shock loss to Argentina and a draw with New Zealand both on his record in recent weeks.

But Habana, who won the 2007 Rugby World Cup with Jones as a member of the Springboks' backroom teams, believes he can still guide England to the ultimate prize.

"I was very fortunate that I got to work with Eddie in 2007," he told StatsPerform. "[He] brought in a very different way of thinking. The difference he made with England was absolutely phenomenal.

"Every coach will be criticised and scrutinised by results. I think for many of the English fans, the scrutiny and the criticism has come around England not performing to the maximum.

"Eddie is an astute coach. He'll be able to take responsibility for where this England team currently is.

"But I also know, despite being under fire, despite being under the microscope, he has the ability to see this England side go one step further and actually win a World Cup in 2023."

Jones is not the only coach whose side have struggled across November, with reigning world champions South Africa also finding positive results hard to come by.

But Habana is proud of how the Springboks have performed across a year of ups and downs, and feels they are heading in the right direction for a successful World Cup campaign.

"It's been a pretty topsy-turvy year," he added. "They'll know they have a lot at stake going into 2023. But, we're proud of what the team has achieved so far.

"A year out from the World Cup, the right steps are being taken. The Springbok team is definitely building something special."

Bryan Habana is an ambassador for the Laureus Challenge 2022, presented by Sierra Space

Tommy Freeman headlines the changes to England's clash with world champions South Africa at Twickenham this weekend, as Eddie Jones makes four swaps.

After mounting a famous late comeback to secure a 25-25 draw last time out with New Zealand, the hosts have made a handful of alterations for their meeting with the Springboks.

Freeman, a star performer during England's tour of Australia earlier this year, has only recently returned from a foot injury, and takes the spot of Jack Nowell.

Mako Vunipola, Alex Coles and Jamie George meanwhile all come into the side, with Luke Cowan-Dickie, Sam Simmonds and Ellis Genge dropping to the bench.

Jack van Poortvliet meanwhile keeps his berth in the halves alongside Marcus Smith, while Owen Farrell will skipper the side at centre for Jones' men.

South Africa coach Jacques Nienaber meanwhile makes four swaps himself, with three enforced by players returning to their clubs as Saturday's game falls outside the international Test window

Cheslin Kolbe, Andre Esterhuizen, and Jasper Wiese are all out as they head back to domestic commitments, with Salmaan Moerat also omitted from the side that beat Italy.

Experienced pair Makazole Mapimpi and Eben Etzebeth both return to the fold in their place, joined by Jesse Kriel and Evan Roos.

England team: Freddie Steward, Tommy Freeman, Manu Tuilagi, Owen Farrell, Jonny May, Marcus Smith, Jack van Poortvliet; Mako Vunipola, Jamie George, Kyle Sinckler, Maro Itoje, Jonny Hill, Alex Coles, Tom Curry, Billy Vunipola.

Replacements: Luke Cowan-Dickie, Ellis Genge, Will Stuart, David Ribbans, Sam Simmonds, Ben Youngs, Henry Slade, Jack Nowell.

South Africa team: Willie le Roux, Kurt-Lee Arendse, Jesse Kriel, Damian de Allende, Makazole Mapimpi, Damian Willemse, Faf de Klerk; Ox Nche, Bongi Mbonambi, Frans Malherbe, Eben Etzebeth, Marvin Orie, Siya Kolisi, Franco Mostert, Evan Roos.

Replacements: Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff, Thomas du Toit, Marco van Staden, Kwagga Smith, Jaden Hendrikse, Manie Libbok, Canan Moodie.

South Africa great John Smit believes Rassie Erasmus' approach has made the Springboks "easy to dislike" after the latter was banned for criticising match officials.

Springboks director of rugby Erasmus was handed a two-match ban by World Rugby after posting on Twitter about the officiating in a defeat to France on November 12.

It is not the first time the former South Africa head coach has come into trouble with the governing body, recently returning from a year-long matchday ban for his conduct against the British and Irish Lions.

Smit acknowledged many coaches will share similar frustrations but was unforgiving in his analysis of Erasmus, who was absent for last Saturday's victory over Italy and will miss the next Test against England.

"It's hard to defend him," South Africa's most-capped player Smit told the Rugby Union Daily post. "The way he has approached this is not right.

"Are you telling me Rassie is the only coach frustrated by a call that has gone the wrong way?

"Something has to be done. There has to be a line that has to be drawn, and he is making it difficult for his team. It's made us, as a rugby team, so easy to dislike."

South Africa face England on Saturday at Twickenham as the Proteas look to build on a 63-21 victory over Italy.

France made it a record-extending 12 Test victories in a row with a thrilling late 30-26 win over South Africa in Marseille on Saturday in a contest that saw both sides have a player sent off.

South Africa trailed 13-0 after Pieter-Steph du Toit was dismissed early on for catching Jonathan Danty in the head, either side of a couple of Thomas Ramos penalties, before Cyril Baille stretched over the line. 

But the reigning world champions responded through a Cheslin Kolbe penalty and a try from Siya Kolisi, who darted around the side after a collapsing maul, though Ramos ensured France still retained a six-point lead at the break by kicking over another penalty.

Kolbe and Ramos added further points from the boot for their respective sides early in an action-packed second half, which sparked into life when Antoine Dupont was sent off for his challenge on Kolbe to level up the sides at 14 players each.

South Africa wasted no time in taking the lead for the first time through Kurt-Lee Arendse's score in the right corner following a driving maul, which Faf de Klerk added to with another penalty.

But after Ramos and Paul Willemse found the sticks to keep the scoreline tight, there was to be another twist as Deon Fourie was sin-binned with 10 minutes to go and France profited when Sipili Falatea crashed over in the third phase of play, with Ramos adding three more points to seal a statement win a year out from the World Cup.

Pakistan's opening batters returned to form at the ideal moment as they propelled their side into the T20 World Cup final at New Zealand's expense.

Set a competitive target of 153 at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Wednesday, Pakistan claimed a seven-wicket triumph to tee up a meeting with England or sub-continental rivals India.

Their victory owed much to the work of Mohammad Rizwan and Babar Azam, who scored 57 and 53 respectively, with both openers finding form just when Pakistan needed them most.

Kane Williamson's 46 and an unbeaten 53 from Daryl Mitchell ensured New Zealand – runners-up to Australia in the United Arab Emirates last year – were in with a chance, as they reached 152-4 in their 20 overs, with Shaheen Shah Afridi (2-24) the pick of Pakistan's bowlers.

Matters might have been much different had Devon Conway taken the chance to send Babar packing with the first ball Pakistan's captain faced, only to drop the catch.

Babar took full advantage, and it was the 13th over – with Pakistan having reached 105 – before he fell to Trent Boult (2-33), though Rizwan chipped his way to a half-century.

Boult claimed another vital wicket when Rizwan picked out Glenn Phillips in the deep, though the damage was already done - the stage set for Mohammad Haris (30) to lash Lockie Ferguson for two boundaries, the second of which was a huge six that put Pakistan well ahead of the required run rate.

Haris clipped to Finn Allen at the end of the penultimate over, yet Shan Masood had no nerves in the first ball of the final over as he sent Pakistan into their first World Cup final since 2007, when they were beaten by India.

Captain's knock from Babar

Pakistan looked to be staring down the barrel of an early exit from the tournament last weekend, but South Africa's shock defeat to the Netherlands handed them a chance. Now, they will go for glory in the tournament's showpiece match.

While Rizwan had started to find his form again in the later Group 2 matches, Babar had accumulated only 39 runs across the tournament prior to Wednesday, but he delivered when it mattered this time out, hitting seven fours in his 42-ball knock.

Fielding lets New Zealand down

What might have been for the Black Caps, who will have to lick their wounds again after also coming so close in 2021.

They put down three great opportunities throughout Pakistan's innings, including Ish Sodhi's late drop of Haris. New Zealand have now lost three of their T20 World Cup semi-finals, while they have lost five of their last six meetings with Pakistan in the format.

South Africa captain Temba Bavuma says he will not make an "emotional" decision over his future as skipper after his side's shock exit from the T20 World Cup.

The Proteas fumbled their final game against an impressive Netherlands side, coming up short in a 13-run loss that allowed Pakistan to capitalise and leapfrog them into the top two.

That sends the latter and India through to join New Zealand and England in the knockout stages of this year's tournament, leaving South Africa out in the cold after just two wins.

Having missed out on qualification to the semi-finals a year ago following an inferior net run rate, it marks the second successive T20 World Cup in which they have underperformed, but Bavuma is in no rush to decide his next steps.

"It's been a tricky time," he stated. "To be considering that now, a lot of it will be emotional, in terms of my role as captain within the team. It's something I will think about. I will speak to the relevant people.

"We have to see who comes in as a coach. Generally when you have changes like that, they might come in with a different style.

"They might find a different leader to execute whatever vision or style of play that they have. It will be emotional now if I think about all of that."

Bavuma admitted the burden of captaincy amid frustrating tournaments for his side had been near the front of his thoughts, adding: "Mentally, it does eat at you as a player.

"You try to manage your mental space as much as you can. You try to control what gets to you but with social media, whatever is being said out there always gets to you.

"I always try to keep a level head, through all the good and the bad times. I try to be as close to myself as possible. Not just for myself but for this group. We are going to take a lot of flack as a group and rightly so."

The Netherlands have produced a stunning upset to knock South Africa out of the T20 World Cup after a 13-run victory at Adelaide Oval on Sunday.

The Proteas simply needed to beat the associate nation to secure their spot in the semi-finals but allowed the Netherlands to score 158-4, including 45 off the final four overs, before falling apart in the chase, to be 145-8

South Africa's slip-up means the winner of the Pakistan-Bangladesh game at the same venue in fine conditions will finish second in Group 2 and take on Group 1 winners New Zealand in the semis at the SCG on Wednesday. The Proteas' loss also means India go through and top Group 2.

Player of the Match Colin Ackermann was heroic for the Dutch with an unbeaten 41 from 26 balls, helping their late charge, before Brandon Glover (3-9) and Fred Klaassen (2-20) starred with the ball.

South Africa's pursuit never got going after the loss of openers Quinton de Kock (13) and Temba Bavuma (20), but they seemed in a winning position at 90-3 in the 13th over, needing 68 off 46.

Yet it all fell apart for the Proteas with wickets tumbling, as Klaassen had Aiden Markram caught by Stephan Myburgh before Glover grabbed two quick wickets to dismiss potential game-winner David Miller for 17 and Wayne Parnell for a duck. From there, South Africa's tail could not get them near the target.

Van der Merwe delivers the key moment

Roelof van der Merwe's brilliant catch running backwards to dismiss danger man Miller was arguably the moment of the match. South Africa had six wickets left, needing 47 off 29 balls, when Miller mis-timed a hook shot, which was lofted towards fine leg but the 37-year-old never took his eyes off the ball and pulled off a diving effort to re-claim any momentum the Proteas had at that stage.

Another South African World Cup disaster

South Africa's loss and subsequent elimination will be tough to swallow. The Proteas, who have never made a T20 World Cup final and have an inglorious past in the 50-over version, appeared destined for the last four for the first time since 2014. Instead, they suffered their first-ever loss to the Netherlands across any format.

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