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Ken Borland



Former Bok defence coach John McFarland on why the bench will be crucial in Brisbane 0

Posted on September 08, 2016 by Ken

 

The impact of the Springboks’ 6-2 bench is going to be of the utmost importance in their Rugby Championship Test against Australia in Brisbane on Saturday, because of a combination of who the referee is and who they are playing against.

Nigel Owens is a fantastic referee and there tends to be a very high ball-in-play figure whenever he’s in charge. Australia have also always had a very attacking mindset in all the games against the Springboks and with their two flyhalves, they will also want to keep the ball in play.

So the ball-in-play figure could be 40-45 minutes, which is the norm against Australia when Owens is the referee but about 20% more than average, which is the reason why Allister Coetzee has gone for six forwards on the bench.

If you look at our recent Test matches against Australia, the Springboks have been comfortably in front for 60-65 minutes but have not finished the job because of a lack of bench impact.

So it’s obvious that having impact players on the bench will be vital and the bench this year has definitely added value– guys like Jaco Kriel, the two props and Pieter-Steph du Toit have provided real grunt up front.

The key for the Springboks is to have 23 players to play for the full 90 minutes. Three forwards will possibly play the full 90 minutes – Strauss, Whiteley and Etzebeth, for whom it is a tremendous achievement to reach 50 caps so young.

Victor Matfield made a very relevant point on SuperSport when he said that the Springboks didn’t have a single driving maul in Salta. Their lineout is so dominant that they must use their maul. Even the Lions do – they have a strong set-piece and maul, it’s a very solid part of their game.

Juan de Jongh and Jesse Kriel will make quite an exciting centre pairing. It’s a bit harsh though on Damien de Allende and Lionel Mapoe because they’ve seen very little ball on the front foot, but obviously Allister has decided that it’s time for a shake-up. It’s especially difficult at outside centre if the midfield is not operating and you get the ball up against a defensive wall, you’re very influenced by what happens on your inside.

The advantage of Juan and Jesse is that they are better communicators in defence and attack, and both have amazing sidestepping ability and run hard reverse lines against the defence. Jesse scored two wonderful tries stepping from centre in last year’s Rugby Championship and they will pose a different attacking threat against Quade Cooper and Bernard Foley.

Allister has obviously also gone for this pairing because Australia don’t have the same size in the midfield as other teams like New Zealand do. Australia will have a very small midfield, which provides the Springboks with the opportunity to run at them and expose their defensive weaknesses.

Australia mix their backs around defensively, they are not always in the channel you’d expect them to be, for example Cooper does find himself at fullback or blind wing sometimes on defence, so then you can use the high-ball kicking game on him from lineouts.

The obvious reason for Australia to go with two flyhalves is that it puts a lot more width on their passing game and they can use a lot more second-man plays from wide channels. The other advantage is they can split their backs on a middle ruck and have two sides to attack.

The other big selection issue has been Adriaan Strauss. Allister obviously wanted his experience and wisdom  and Adriaan is a quality Test performer. His accuracy at the lineout is second to none as is his scrummaging, so his set-pieces are always at a high level and he contributed around the park.

I guess the results haven’t been as he would have expected and it’s been a difficult year. But he cares deeply about the game. He’s not a tub-thumping sort of captain, but he speaks intelligently and demands high standards.

The Springboks have just not been able to get their all-round game going but the set-pieces have been really solid, so he has done his job.

For Saturday, the defence of the Springboks really has to improve. The work-rate has to be a lot higher to set the breakdown pillars properly before the attack gets in place. The ability of the defence to force turnovers will be crucial because Australia will take the ball at the Boks in hand. The side they have picked is very attack-minded.

The other really huge battle of the game will be the lineout.  New Zealand really exposed flaws in the Australian lineout in the two Bledisloe Cup Tests and the Springboks definitely have an advantage having picked four lineout jumpers to combat three.

I would expect us to continue to produce good ball on our own throw and hopefully disrupt their lineout to give them poor set-piece ball to attack from.

In 2013, the Springboks broke the Brisbane hoodoo, scoring four tries to zero. Hopefully on Saturday they can do the same again.

John McFarland is the assistant coach of the Kubota Spears in Japan and was the Springbok defence coach from 2012-15, having won three SuperRugby titles (2007, 09, 10) with the Bulls and five Currie Cup crowns with the Blue Bulls. In all, he won 28 trophies during his 12 years at Loftus Versfeld.

 

Return of Alberts just the tonic for Sharks 0

Posted on June 07, 2016 by Ken

 

The return of powerhouse flank Willem Alberts to the Sharks team is just the tonic they need in this time of crisis, but coach Gary Gold faces a difficult decision when it comes to either starting the Springbok against the Lions at Ellis Park on Saturday or bringing him on off the bench.

Alberts has been battling hamstring injuries since last year and has played just one SuperRugby match this season, against the Stormers in Cape Town a month ago, where he re-injured the tendon.

But he’s been back at training this week and Gold will need to decide whether to start with the battering ram and see just how much time they can get out of him, or bring him off the bench and hope he can make an impact and last for 20 minutes or so.

Alberts is the sort of player who can inspire a team and the 30-year-old was positive that the Sharks can turn their fortunes around, while acknowledging that things have not gone according to plan thus far.

“It’s been another new beginning for us this season with a new coaching staff, plus injuries or suspensions making players unavailable. But we still believe that we are in contention and we are working hard for each other. It was obviously a hiccup last week, but luckily in rugby, the next week brings a new chance and we have to take it and move forward,” Alberts said.

The former Lions player is a senior figure at the Sharks and he brushed off suggestions that it was the older players to blame for the KwaZulu-Natalians’ implosion in recent weeks.

“The younger players need to raise their level of play, they have to step up and show that they are up for big rugby. But we were all young players at some stage and we support them, we try our best to help them do their best. There’s a great environment here at the Sharks, with young and old players and we just want to go forward as a team,” Alberts said.

A couple of those older players –props Jannie du Plessis and Tendai Mtawarira – have played for four weeks in a row now and, in terms of the agreement with Springbok management, they will need to be rested either this weekend or the next.

Given that the Sharks face the Bulls in Durban next week, Gold may well decide to rest them this week ahead of that must-win home match.

Bulls bench three more Springboks for Kings match 0

Posted on April 14, 2016 by Ken

 

The Bulls are already without the services of Springboks due to injury, but such is their confidence at the top of the South African Conference that they have put another three on the bench for their Vodacom SuperRugby match against the Southern Kings at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

Chief among the three on the bench is flyhalf Morne Steyn, the provider of most of their points, tactical direction and territorial dominance, who finally gets a break.

Louis Fouche will start at flyhalf, while lock Juandre Kruger and centre JJ Engelbrecht are also on the bench. Former Lions star Grant Hattingh will start in the number five jersey, while resting Engelbrecht has allowed coach Frans Ludeke to try Jan Serfontein at outside centre, which could also have interesting implications for the Springboks as well.

The Bulls will be grateful for the seven-match winning streak that has given them an eight-point lead in the South African Conference and, even with Jano Vermaak, Arno Botha and captain Pierre Spies being ruled out due to injury during the June internationals, they still have 13 Springboks in their starting line-up and nobody really expects them to lose to the Kings at their Loftus Versfeld fortress. And even if they do, they will still be sitting pretty.

Their chief rivals, the Cheetahs, have no such liberties and they simply have to win to keep their playoff hopes alive when they travel to Cape Town to take on a Stormers side that will have been given licence to express themselves with their competition hopes all but over.

The Cheetahs have rushed all their Springbok squad members back into action, but the good news for them is that Robert Ebersohn, Lappies Labuschagne and Lourens Adriaanse saw no actual on-field action and will therefore be rested and refreshed, while Piet van Zyl, Coenie Oosthuizen and Trevor Nyakane had little game time.

Even without Springbok captain Jean de Villiers, who has finally succumbed to injury, the Stormers still boast high-profile players such as Bryan Habana, Eben Etzebeth and Siya Kolisi and there is nothing they would like more than to cut the Cheetahs down to size.

The Cheetahs snatched victory over the Stormers in Bloemfontein back in April with an 82nd-minute penalty by Burton Francis and since then the Stormers’ fortunes have nosedived to the extent that they are eleventh on the overall log.

But the Cheetahs have only won once before at Newlands and have won just three of their 10 SuperRugby meetings with the Stormers overall, so the home side has plenty of pride to play for.

On the theme of being cut down to size, the Sharks return to SuperRugby action this weekend with a new coach after their incoming CEO wielded the axe in dramatic fashion.

How the players respond to all the uncertainty stemming from John Smit’s arrival and the unceremonious departure of former CEO Brian van Zyl and coach John Plumtree remains to be seen as they tackle the Blues, who are still fighting for a playoff place.

Former assistant coach Grant Bashford has temporarily taken the reins of the Sharks.

For all the teams, however, there is the question of how the three-week break has affected them. Will their motors splutter back to life in clouds of smoke and not much acceleration, or will they return smoothly to the track and quickly find fifth gear?

For the Bulls and Cheetahs, there is crucial momentum to be maintained, but for the Sharks and Stormers, there is the possibility of a fresh start and a much better finish to the competition than the way they began.

The Southern Kings, meanwhile, are almost guaranteed to finish last in the South African Conference despite all their effort and determination and they need to make important decisions about the balance between resting key players and having them ready for the playoff / relegation series against the Lions.

There is bound to be more drama before the end of the tournament, with the Allister Coetzee household no doubt in a state of some trepidation as many Stormers fans have been calling for his head. And the board might just have been emboldened by the Sharks’ move to change coach.

Coetzee’s best insurance of course is to win and Newlands will host the pick of the weekend’s fixtures as a quality side looking for redemption faces the new contenders, desperate for victory and with in-form future stars in their ranks.

Teams

The Sharks (v Blues, Saturday 14:50): Riaan Viljoen, Odwa Ndungane, Louis Ludik, Butch James, Lwazi Mvovo, Pat Lambie, Charl McLeod, Keegan Daniel, Willem Alberts, Marcell Coetzee, Franco van der Merwe, Edwin Hewitt, Jannie du Plessis, Kyle Cooper, Tendai Mtawarira. Replacements – Bismarck du Plessis, Danie Mienie/Wiehahn Herbst, Jandré Marais, Jean Deysel, Jacques Botes, Cobus Reinach, Jaco van Tonder.

Bulls (v Southern Kings, Saturday 17:05): Zane Kirchner, Akona Ndungane, Jan Serfontein, Wynand Olivier, Bjorn Basson, Louis Fouché, Francois Hougaard, Dewald Potgieter, Jacques Potgieter, Deon Stegmann, Grant Hattingh, Flip van der Merwe, Werner Kruger, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Dean Greyling. Replacements – Willie Wepener, Frik Kirsten, Juandré Kruger, Jono Ross, Rudy Paige, Morné Steyn, JJ Engelbrecht.

Southern Kings (v Bulls, Saturday 17:05): SP Marais, Michael Killian, Ronnie Cooke, Andries Strauss, Marcello Sampson, Demetri Catrakilis, Shaun Venter, Jacques Engelbrecht, Wimpie van der Walt, Cornell du Preez, Darron Nell, David Bulbring, Kevin Buys, Bandise Maku, Schalk Ferreira. Replacements – Grant Kemp, Hannes Franklin, Rynier Bernardo, Devin Oosthuizen, Nicolas Vergallo, George Whitehead, Shane Gates.

Stormers (v Cheetahs, Saturday 19:15): Joe Pietersen, Gio Aplon, Juan de Jongh, Damian de Allende, Bryan Habana, Elton Jantjies, Louis Schreuder, Nizaam Carr, Deon Fourie, Siya Kolisi, De Kock Steenkamp, Eben Etzebeth, Brok Harris, Tiaan Liebenberg, Steven Kitshoff. Replacements – Scarra Ntubeni, Ross Geldenhuys, Gerbrandt Grobler, Don Armand, Dewaldt Duvenage, Gary van Aswegen, Gerhard van den Heever.

Cheetahs (v Stormers, Saturday 19:15): Hennie Daniller, Willie le Roux, Johann Sadie, Robert Ebersohn, Raymond Rhule, Riaan Smit, Piet van Zyl, Philip van der Walt, Lappies Labuschagné, Heinrich Brüssow, Ligtoring Landman, Lood de Jager, Lourens Adriaanse, Adriaan Strauss, Coenie Oosthuizen. Replacements – Ryno Barnes, Trevor Nyakane, Waltie Vermeulen, Boom Prinsloo, Sarel Pretorius, Elgar Watts, Howard Mnisi.

Other fixtures: Chiefs v Hurricanes (Friday 9:35); Highlanders v Crusaders (Saturday 9:35).

 

http://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2013-06-28-superrugby-confident-bulls-to-rest-three-more-against-southern-kings/#.Vw-E6_l97IU

Matfield to the bench & 2 new props for the Bulls 0

Posted on February 09, 2016 by Ken

 

Victor Matfield moving to the bench and two new starting props were the only changes to the Bulls team coach Frans Ludeke announced on Thursday for their SuperRugby match against the Western Force at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

Matfield will be replaced in the number five jersey by Grant Hattingh, while Springboks Marcel van der Merwe and Dean Greyling will be the starting props as Ludeke gives his 37-year-old stalwart something of a break and provides a starting opportunity for the two front-rowers who have had their year disrupted by injury.

“Obviously you can’t rest players and have them on the bench, but it’s more about managing the playing time. We set ourselves some principles, and one of them is not to make too many changes week-for-week,” he explained, “You want to keep the continuity and the rhythm, and that is vital for players.

“But we want to back the squad system as well and we’ve got great props and we back them. Trevor Nyakane and other players will be rotated in the next few weeks,” Ludeke said.

Hattingh may not have Matfield’s experience or genius in running the lineout, but he is tremendously mobile, has a high work-rate and has performed well in the lineout before.

“He was with Victor in the lineout last year and he is one of our anchors. In the end he played almost all the games either at eight or five and in the Currie Cup he was our leading jumper. It’s great to give him his first start this week, he has continually added a lot of energy off the bench this season,” Ludeke said.

The Bulls may not have lost to an Australian side at Loftus since 2007, but it was the Force who beat them then and the side from Perth have traditionally run the Pretoria team close.

Ludeke may also be relying on his bench providing a late boost because there is tremendous quality there in the form of Matfield, the fit-again loose forward Arno Botha and Nyakane.

 

 

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    1 Corinthians 3:3 - "For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?"

    One of my favourite U2 songs is a collaboration with Johnny Cash called The Wanderer, and it features the line "they say they want the kingdom, but they don't want God in it".
    Many people say they believe in God, but they don't experience his loving presence. They may be active in Christian work, but only if they have their way. If they cannot be leaders, they refuse to be involved.
    Because they refuse to allow God to fill their lives with his love, they remain weak and powerless.
    Spiritual maturity means developing a greater love for others.

    "When the love of Christ saturates you, immature attitudes such as pettiness, jealousy and strife are dissolved.
    "It is only when you have an intimate relationship with the Lord that you receive sufficient grace to rise above this immaturity and enjoy the solid food that the Holy Spirit gives you." - Solly Ozrovech, A Shelter From The Storm



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