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Ken Borland



The best way to avoid an awful thrashing 0

Posted on September 18, 2016 by Ken

 

“What is the best way to avoid an awful thrashing,” was the question uppermost in my mind on Thursday afternoon.

It’s fair to say that my mind this week has been a bit like the ocean outside Pegasus Bay, which shelters Christchurch from the wave-tossed Pacific Ocean as it crashes into the rest of New Zealand’s South Island’s rugged coastline –restless, uneasy and with thoughts of Springbok rugby’s demise pounding away.

The lack of focus became apparent in the Sunshine Tour Media Challenge on Thursday afternoon, as Musiwalo Nethunzwi, the gifted 28-year-old from Modderfontein Golf Club, quickly dominated the front nine at Glendower Golf Club to go eight-up over hapless me at the turn.

The prospect of losing 10&8 had thankfully been averted, but the ignominy of a massive defeat was very much on the cards. At the halfway house I decided the only way forward was to stick with the things (it’s a short list) that have worked in the past and I was fortunate to also bump into Thabang Simon, the Soweto Country Club professional who has been playing on tour since 1998/99.

I suspect Simon just wanted to tag along out of morbid curiosity to watch the trainsmash that is my golf – I was having a bad day so it’s probably more like the effects of a tsunami obliterating a densely-populated area – but his presence had the effect of galvanising me and I managed to win a few holes before eventually going down 5&4.

On a serious note, the difficulties our development golfers face in trying to make it as professionals is clearly illustrated by Nethunzwi. He was magnificent off the tee, long and straight, and outplayed James Kamte, the pinnacle of Black African golf in South Africa and part of our fourball, to illustrate the talent he has.

But Nethunzwi, a thoroughly affable chap as well, does not have a full-time coach, simply because he cannot afford one, providing an opportunity for corporate South Africa to help transform the game if ever I’ve seen one.

I have a feeling most Springbok fans are expecting a “5&4” defeat at the hands of the All Blacks on Saturday morning.

It’s important to note, however, that South African rugby has been through these times of mourning before.

Heyneke Meyer’s first Rugby Championship campaign in 2012 saw the Springboks draw in Argentina before losing both games in Australia and New Zealand, the All Blacks also hammering them 32-16 at Ellis Park in Johannesburg.

In Peter de Villiers’ first Tri-Nations tournament, in 2008, the Springboks won just one game, astonishingly against the All Blacks in Dunedin, while Jake White started superbly, but a run of five successive defeats in 2006 left him on the brink of being fired before a 77th-minute Andre Pretorius penalty edged them to a one-point win over New Zealand in Rustenburg. Just over a year after that, the Springboks were winning the World Cup in France.

Even their 1995 triumph came after they had won just three of their previous 15 Tests against Australia, New Zealand, France and England.

The Springboks dug their way out of those troughs and came out stronger, and former star Fourie du Preez certainly believes this will be the case again.

“It’s a tough story for South African rugby at the moment and all supporters would like to believe it will get better. As a former player though, I can tell you that this experience now will really count in their favour further down the line. I remember before the 2007 World Cup it was the same for us.

“When the Springboks have their backs against the wall, they always stand up and we still have great players. I just don’t understand why we have to wait until we’re under such pressure though. It’s very unfortunate that the new coach was appointed just four weeks before his first Test and he’s going through a tough time as well,” Du Preez said.

The inspirational scrumhalf was speaking in studio as part of The Dan Nicholl Show, which so often puts matters of South African sport in perspective. The first episode of season four, which has Du Preez in the line-up, will be broadcast on Wednesday at 7pm on SuperSport 1.

Cobras looking to avoid last place after disrupted season 0

Posted on May 19, 2016 by Ken

 

While the bizhub Highveld Lions have secured their position at the top of the Sunfoil Series standings, there will be a fiercely-fought contest at the other end of the log as the defending champion Nashua Cape Cobras look to avoid the wooden spoon in the final round of matches starting on Thursday.

The Cobras, with so many representatives of both the national and SA A sides coming in and out of the team, have endured a disrupted season, but they would dearly like to beat the Sunfoil Dolphins, who are looking to hang on to second place behind the Lions, to ensure they don’t finish last.

Although their hopes of winning the four-day title for the fifth time in six seasons are long gone, the progress of players like Dane Paterson and Omphile Ramela has been a major positive.

“Obviously we’ve spoken about not finishing last, but we’ve gained some things this season in the form of people like Dane and Omphi, and they would like to finish near the top of the leading wicket-takers and run-scorers lists,” Cobras coach Paul Adams told The Citizen on Wednesday.

The depth of the Cobras has always been one of the major reasons for their dominance of franchise cricket in recent years, and Adams will use the match against the Dolphins at the Oval in Pietermaritzburg to give exposure to other players coming through like Matthew Kleinveldt, left-arm swing bowler Mpilo Njoloza and wrist-spinner George Linde.

Stiaan van Zyl is out of action with a thigh strain, but the inclusion of Dane Piedt means the Cobras have one new international returning for another.

“It’s another chance to look at a couple of players, someone like Matthew has done nicely in the three-day competition, with guys like Rory Kleinveldt, Robin Peterson and Mthokozisi Shezi having a break after the long season.

“Players like Paterson and Ramela understand their games better now and hopefully we’ll be back in the running in four-day cricket next season. Despite the results, we’ve had some consistent players who are moving on in the game,” Adams said.

For the Dolphins, the disappointment of losing to the Lions last weekend and therefore ending the title chase leaves them vulnerable against a quality, hungry outfit like the Cobras and coach Lance Klusener has intimated that he might well freshen up the squad by making a few changes.

The Chevrolet Warriors are the other team in danger of ‘winning’ the wooden spoon and they take on the champion Lions at the Wanderers with a slender lead of just 1.22 points over the Cobras.

The Eastern Cape side are also looking to the 2015/16 season according to coach Malibongwe Maketa and the same squad that were beaten in East London by the Chevrolet Knights last weekend will do duty in Johannesburg.

The pressure will be on the Warriors batsmen to score runs in the first innings against the best attack in the competition and Maketa said the inconsistent batting has been the biggest issue for his side this season.

“We haven’t been consistent enough, we haven’t batted well in the first innings and, although we’ve managed to save some games in the second innings, last weekend’s defeat was always coming. But we’re working hard on our young batsmen, we want to test them against the Lions, where they’ll have to score runs under pressure.

“But this is our best side and we have them for the next two or three seasons, so we want to keep playing them and building. We’re not going to be giving away free Warriors caps,” Maketa said.

The Lions will want to complete their superb campaign by beating the Warriors and are likely to name their strongest XI even though nobody can catch them at the top of the standings.

Dominic Hendricks will replace wicketkeeper/batsman Thami Tsolekile, who is being troubled by a finger injury, while the batting will be further strengthened by the return of Alviro Petersen.

The battle for second place also involves the Unlimited Titans, who are 12.16 points behind the Dolphins, and they host the Knights at SuperSport Park in Centurion.

The Titans will be without opening batsman Dean Elgar, who was the star of their draw against the Cobras last weekend with an unbeaten double-century, before being struck on the head by Paterson and suffering a mild concussion.

But Qaasim Adams, who has scored a century for the Titans in both the Sunfoil Series and the Momentum One-Day Cup and was named as the franchise’s Most Improved Player at their awards function this week, returns from injury, and with Albie Morkel and Shaun von Berg both in the squad, the home side could bat down to number nine.

Knights coach Sarel Cilliers is expecting a pitch that will become up-and-down as the Titans need to win the game to overtake the Dolphins and finish second. But victory for the visitors could see them swop positions with the Titans and finish third.

“I definitely think their plan is to use inconsistent bounce and the pitch looks as if it will go up-and-down quite early. So far in this competition we’ve had three losses, three draws and three wins, so I’d really like to tilt the balance in favour of wins by the end of the season,” Cilliers said.

Quinton Friend, who many judges of fast bowling rate as a quality paceman, is back for the Knights and so is Malusi Siboto, an accurate back-up seamer.

Unfortunately Corne Dry and Duanne Olivier are both out injured and Cilliers said they are the sort of bang-it-in bowlers who could have thrived on the SuperSport Park pitch.

“They’ve really struck their straps in the last couple of weeks and their injuries are unfortunate because those youngsters do hit the deck hard. We’ve been capable of containing sides, but wickets have been a bit short and we had three games where we bowled for 140 overs, not being able to bowl sides out in the first innings, and that’s a long time in the field.

“But it was a good turnaround in East London, where we managed to bowl the Warriors out in both the first and second innings, and that was a good performance, especially by the bowlers,” Cilliers said.

 

In Allister the Springboks have the right man 0

Posted on April 18, 2016 by Ken

 

Although I would have liked to have seen some big-name overseas input in the management team, in Allister Coetzee the Springboks have a coach who is vastly experienced, has excellent man-management skills and will avoid the transformation pitfalls that plagued his predecessor, which is vital in this country.

Coetzee was a strong contender for the post way back in 2008, but those were the days when Cheeky Watson held powerful sway in South African rugby and the disgraced Eastern Province president was firmly in the Peter de Villiers camp.

In a way, I’m actually quite pleased now that Coetzee did not get the job straight after he had been part of Jake White’s management team that won the World Cup in 2007. The former scrumhalf star has spent the last eight years gaining more and more experience, to the extent that of all the Springbok coaches appointed since 1992, he has the most experience of them all.

Early coaches like John Williams, Ian McIntosh and Kitch Christie had no international background, while Andre Markgraaff and Carel du Plessis had not coached at SuperRugby level. Nick Mallett, Harry Viljoen and Rudolf Straeuli had experience in that competition, but were not part of successful Springbok management teams before their promotion.

White and De Villiers both won the junior world cup but had never been head coach of a SuperRugby franchise, while Heyneke Meyer had success with the Bulls but only a little involvement with Springbok teams.

Critics of Coetzee point to the dour style of rugby he played in making four SuperRugby playoffs, winning the South African Conference three times and claiming two Currie Cup titles, but it’s important to look at that in context.

When he took over an ailing Stormers in 2010, the then laws of the game favoured teams that played territory and could defend well, at times the less ball you had the better. Think of how well the Springboks did around that time and what sort of rugby they played, beating the All Blacks five times between 2008 and 2011.

Of course, as the laws changed, Coetzee said he tried to make sure the Stormers’ play evolved as well, but it was not as easy as just applying a new lick of paint.

Players who have worked with Coetzee – and not just with the Stormers, Fourie du Preez for instance – have the utmost respect for his ability as a coach. The 52-year-old will have the attacking and skills input of Mzwandile Stick, one of the best Sevens players this country has ever produced and obviously a talented coach in his own right given that he steered Eastern Province to the U19 Currie Cup title.

In terms of an overseas appointment, Saru probably don’t have the money and the top overseas names probably don’t have the inclination or the inside knowledge to get involved in the murky politics of our rugby, so local will have to be lekker for now. CEO Jurie Roux said Coetzee is welcome to call in any short-term consultants he requires.

Much has been made of Saru’s goal of making the Springbok team 50% representative by the next World Cup and Coetzee said it shouldn’t be an issue for him. He managed to field a transformed Stormers side and keep winning at the same time.

The talent is there to fulfil any quotas, but if Coetzee does run into problems now and then in terms of balancing his side, at least nobody is going to call him a racist as Watson once tried to imply.

The Springbok coaching reins have undoubtedly been handed to the right man, although an efficient organisation would have given Coetzee much more time to prepare for a tough debut when Ireland come to these shores in June.



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