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Ken Borland



Top-class Sharks halfbacks hoping for a change in injury fortunes 0

Posted on February 21, 2017 by Ken

 

Pat Lambie and Cobus Reinach have endured a wretched time when it comes to injury in recent SuperRugby seasons, but Sharks backline coach Sean Everitt said on Tuesday that the team are excited about being able to field a top-class halfback pair in this year’s campaign.

“That’s where we’ve fallen short in the last couple of years, losing Pat early and then Cobus being unlucky in the last few years, means they have missed a lot of SuperRugby which is never easy for a team to lose their first-choice halfbacks. And SuperRugby is not really the sort of tournament you want to breed youngsters in, that’s more for the Currie Cup, and we’ve also had no Frans Steyn.

“But the youngsters are important and they’ve been working hard, because Pat has to rest at some stage. Innocent Radebe and Benhard Janse van Rensburg have done well and Curwin Bosch can play flyhalf as well.

“Cobus will certainly provide some x-factor, he’s an opportunist, but he does the basics well and has a good boot too. He’s been here a long time, he knows the systems well and he delivers on the field,” Everitt said.

While experience at nine and 10 will obviously be cherished by the Sharks, they do have a herd of youngsters challenging for backline places and that has pleased Everitt as well.

“The youngsters have a lot of enthusiasm and since losing JP Pietersen, Willie le Roux and Odwa Ndungane last year, the Currie Cup bunch have grown considerably. They’ve certainly played themselves into contention and that’s exciting.

“We have Kobus van Wyk on the wing, although we will look at him at centre if we have problems there. But Lukhanyo Am has done well in the Currie Cup and has had good preparation, so we’ll be looking to build up his combination with Andre Esterhuizen.

“Jeremy Ward is obviously a good signing because he was one of the top age-group players in his position [centre] last year and we mustn’t forget Johan Deysel from the Leopards, who played in the 2015 World Cup for Namibia. It’s time to move on and these guys have what it takes,” Everitt said.

But there is also the presence of veteran French fullback Clement Poitrenaud and Everitt said he would play a leadership role in guiding the young backline.

“Clement is definitely in contention for selection in the match-day 23, he has a lot of experience having played 47 Tests. We have a young backline, so he will be good for us, leading and helping those guys. He’s very popular amongst his team-mates, his English is quite good and he has a good sense of humour. Most importantly, the guys admire his skill-set,” Everitt said.

http://citizen.co.za/sport/sport-rugby/1428003/sharks-holding-thumbs-their-dynamic-duo-keep-fit/

Steyn looking to impose his management on game 0

Posted on June 17, 2016 by Ken

 

Springbok backline coach Mzwandile Stick said if you ever wanted to ‘cut-and-paste’ game-management into a side then Morne Steyn is as good a template as you can find, and the veteran flyhalf is hoping to bring some much-needed tactical prowess with the boot to the team for their crucial second Test against Ireland at Ellis Park on Saturday.

Steyn has completed his season with Stade Francais and was back in South Africa preparing to go on holiday when he answered the S.O.S. from the Springbok camp, with Pat Lambie and Handre Pollard both injured. The 31-year-old is likely to be named on the bench as back-up for Elton Jantjies and has every chance of adding to his 60 caps if the home side finds itself in trouble.

“Last Saturday our kicking wasn’t at the usual top standard, and what we’re trying to bring is more kicking into our game and that’s one of my strengths, so hopefully I can bring that to the team. All the teams we play against in Europe are quality, they all have good kicking games, but they’re all trying to run the ball a bit more as well. You can see the standard has improved a lot and England and Ireland were able to show it last weekend. At Stade Francais I’ve been able to gain more experience of playing in that weather, as well as relaxing and enjoying my rugby more,” Steyn said.

The former Bulls star’s international hopes seemed to have suffered a terminal blow last year when he played only 24 minutes of Test rugby, coming off the bench against the USA in the World Cup. But it’s not the first time Steyn has been discarded and returned as his mastery of the basic skills of international flyhalf play don’t go out of fashion.

“I watched a lot of SuperRugby and guys like Elton Jantjies, Pat Lambie and Garth April were all doing so well, and I knew I was a bit older than those guys … plus it’s a new era, which is good for South African rugby. So I guess I wasn’t really expecting to be called up … a guy like Handre Pollard, who is injured now, is in the picture as well so you never know what will happen.

“But rugby certainly is a strange game! Just when you think you’re out of it, you’re back in the thick of it. But I’m here now and determined to make a positive contribution. I spoke to my wife about it as well. We just said we’re going to see how it goes. It’s great to be back and I’m enjoying playing with all the new guys in the Springbok squad, only three or four guys have more than 50 caps. I had four weeks holiday planned, but it’s great to be back on the field!

“Family time is great, but I will give it my all for the Springboks. In every training session, every game I play from here I’m going to give it 100%. Maybe I can keep going for another two or three years,” Steyn said.

The space is there, Boks need to be more patient – Stick 0

Posted on June 15, 2016 by Ken

 

The space is there, but the Springboks need to be more patient when utilising it, Mzwandile Stick, the backline coach, said on Tuesday ahead of the crucial second Test against Ireland at Ellis Park on Saturday.

South Africa managed to lose the first Test against Ireland despite playing against 14 men for an hour, with the extra space available to them being wasted by one-dimensional, frenetic efforts to just fling the ball wide as quickly as possible, thereby allowing the hardworking Irish defence to merely fan across and isolate the attackers out wide.

“The problem is not creating space, the space was there, the problem was how we managed it. Everyone got too excited, everyone wanted to be in that space and sometimes guys were even a bit selfish about it. We needed to do the hard work first and punch through the middle and then take the ball wide,” Stick said after training on Tuesday.

“As a team, we failed to manage the game well, we rushed things and we need to be more patient. Sometimes we played too much rugby in our own half and then the energy levels of the players ran out.”

While the forwards at least ensured the Springboks won the possession and territory stats against Ireland (57% in both cases), Stick acknowledged that the pack also needed to do more when it came to laying the sort of dominant platform that allows the backline to flourish.

“We knew Ireland would take us on physically and I must compliment them on doing their homework and they dominated the set-pieces. We need to focus on the collisions and make sure that we are dominant in them,” Stick said.

Lwazi Mvovo was the star player on the day in the Springbok backline and Stick said the Sharks wing’s well-taken try off a deft inside ball from Elton Jantjies was one of the few positives from the game.

“Lwazi looked dangerous when he had the ball and that try put a smile on my face because it was executed very well. Damian de Allende also ran a very good line and I’m not sure about those pundits who said it was obstruction. It’s one of our strike moves and my job is to give the guys the freedom to play and create options for them.

“The key is to try and create those moments, create an environment in which the players can express themselves and plans to complement their qualities,” Stick said.



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