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Ken Borland



John McFarland Column: Boks are in a dark space & I know how that feels 0

Posted on November 23, 2016 by Ken

 

It was obviously a big shock for the Springboks to have lost to Italy at the weekend and everybody involved will feel that they have let the country down. But it’s now about going forward and getting things right for this weekend’s game against Wales.

The key is the coach, the wolf pack follows the pace of the leader and if he’s energised and shows how hard he wants to fight, then the rest will follow.

The nice thing about sport is that you get the chance to turn things around the next week and a good win against Wales will maybe show that the players have settled in better into the new game-plan.

In any coach’s life, they will go through a crisis, they will have a bad loss, because nobody wins 100% of the time. Every coach has their time under pressure, even the best coaches – for example Jose’ Mourinho at Chelsea or Eddie Jones at the Reds.

They’ve got to know what to do and how to put it right the following week.

In my time with the Springboks, I was part of the squad that lost to Japan at the World Cup. That was also a big blow to all our careers and I remember the day itself very well.

During the week everyone was filled with euphoria, we had landed in London, had the World Cup welcome, and we were really over-confident.

Japan certainly deserved their win, as did Italy last weekend.

On that Saturday evening in Brighton, it felt like being in a dark hole, certainly the players were feeling that. We had a very short meeting, some of the senior guys stood up and said it wasn’t good enough and we had to make sure we came back. We were still in the World Cup, so we were lucky that we had the chance to turn it around.

When you lose like that, everyone goes in different directions, especially when it’s the national team. Nobody looks anyone in the eyes, everyone feels a huge responsibility for their role in the disaster.

As part of the coaching staff, you pore through the video, looking at what was good and what was bad, preparing yourself for a really critical review of exactly what went wrong and how to better it. You deal with the team and also individuals in one-on-one situations.

After that game we had a long trip to Birmingham, five hours on a bus, and not one word was spoken. We stopped for lunch and there was still very little chat.

We kept the physical routine the same that week, but we made some key changes in other areas of our schedule.

On the Monday morning the players had their usual gym and recovery sessions, but then instead of a review of the game, we had an inquest. Every player got up and took responsibility for their part in the defeat, and said what they were going to get right and bring to the table for the next weekend.

Believe me, tears were shed because it’s pretty galling that the game you played with such joy as a child can put you in such a dark space.

Responsibility was taken by the whole group. Heyneke Meyer stood at the front and said this is the way we are going to do it from now on.

With all that cleaned out of the way, I remember there was a new focus from the players, everyone made a tremendous shift. Jean de Villiers led from the front, he said we will fix this, we will put it right, as did all the senior players. Training was very physical and intense that week as you’d expect from a wounded Springbok team.

Then they put on a real performance of pride and passion in beating Samoa 46-6, allowing them zero tries as we absolutely smashed them backwards. Duane Vermeulen was only meant to play about 50 minutes, but he played the full 80 and put in a real shift at the coalface.

Unfortunately Jean de Villiers was injured in that match and had to return home, but we won all our games after losing to Japan and pushed the All Blacks to within two points in the World Cup semifinal, the difference being a Dan Carter drop goal and an overturned penalty.

We were all really proud at the fact that we had come back and pushed New Zealand really close, putting on a far better performance against them than Australia did in the final, and then we took the bronze medal from Argentina in convincing fashion.

Heyneke Meyer pulled the team together with his staff and senior players, the core group pushed the boat in the right direction. From the Monday after the Japan loss, we were one team and we knew that one more defeat would put us out of the World Cup.

Some of the squad have been involved in both defeats to Japan and Italy and hopefully they can turn it around now like they did in the World Cup.

It’s always a battle of the gainline against Wales, with Jamie Roberts, Alex Cuthbert and Dan Biggar, and the Springboks will need to be really defensively solid in the backs … and obviously take their opportunities much better than they did against Italy.

 

 

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.

Ireland unable to handle entry of Boks’ big weapons – Schmidt 0

Posted on June 20, 2016 by Ken

 

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt said the entry of South Africa’s big weapons in the second half had delivered an onslaught that the tourists were unable to handle as the Springboks turned a 19-3 halftime deficit into a thrilling 32-26 victory in the second Test at Ellis Park at the weekend.

“We said at halftime that we can’t sit on the lead with the weaponry South Africa have, and that was in full evidence in the second half. They delivered an onslaught that we couldn’t match up to, the result was earned by the Springbok ball-carriers.

“The way the Springboks came back was relatively irrepressible – Damian de Allende is a devastating carrier, Ruan Combrinck is unbelievably tough to put down, once he got the ball in his hands he was a real handful, and Warren Whiteley scored a really well-taken try,” Schmidt said after the game.

Ireland captain Rory Best said his team still believed they could go to Port Elizabeth and win the series in the third Test next weekend.

“Obviously this defeat is very hard to take, for large parts of the first two-thirds of the game we did all the things we talked about – we were physical, we got off the line quickly and we held on to the ball. But we couldn’t defend that lead because once the Springboks started to come around the corner we began to slip tackles. If you don’t compete around the fringes against the Springboks then you’re going to lose.

“But we’ll take this loss on the chin and come out stronger on the other side. We still have a chance to win the Test series and we have to make sure that if we’re in this position again, we don’t make the same errors. We must improve on the last quarter,” hooker Best said.

 

Bulls know underestimating Lions would be an error 0

Posted on June 02, 2016 by Ken

 

The Vodacom Bulls may have been superb in claiming the big scalp of the Crusaders last weekend, but they know it will be an error to expect Saturday’s SuperRugby match against the Emirates Lions at Ellis Park in Johannesburg to be any easier.

It is, of course, a local derby that will always get the blood pumping on both sides, plus the Lions have been playing with an enormous unity of purpose and will be able to draw on the confidence of a record-breaking three wins on tour, while there should be a sizeable home crowd to welcome them home.

“It would be wrong to think it’s going to be an easier game this weekend. The Lions have shown how good they are, it’s never easy winning three games on tour. They will play for the full 80 minutes, they’re fit and well-coached and they will obviously get up for this game because they’ll want to start their home stretch of matches well,” Bulls captain Pierre Spies warned.

Coach Frans Ludeke was also stressing that his team cannot afford any drop in intensity from last weekend.

“We’ve had a very good week of preparation just to add to what we did against the Crusaders, so we’re high in confidence and things are working well. But against the Lions, we will definitely need to match that performance against the Crusaders,” Ludeke said.

Spies called for his team to be clinical in using whatever opportunities they get, and Ludeke has also ensured there are no oversights in selection by choosing another specialist openside flank on the bench in Roelof Smit, against a Lions team that will almost certainly play a high-tempo game and target the Bulls’ breakdown.

Much will also depend on which tighthead – Trevor Nyakane or Ruan Dreyer – gets the upperhand in the scrums because that is such an important set-piece, especially for a team like the Bulls that will use the penalties from there to further their territory game or set up their lineout maul.

Ludeke was full of praise for the way Nyakane has not only adapted to his move from the Cheetahs but also switched to the other side of the scrum during his first three months at Loftus Versfeld. Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer will also be smiling because he now has Marcel van der Merwe or Nyakane as quality back-up for Jannie du Plessis.

“His first-choice position is loosehead, but we had a lot of injuries at tighthead and he has really come through and done a job for us. He’s adding a lot, and a lot more than just scrummaging which is what we’re going to need this weekend.

“The national coach knows what he has in Trevor, he can play loosehead or tighthead, which makes it easy for a coach. Trevor now knows where he wants to go in his career,” Ludeke said.

The omission of Marnitz Boshoff from the starting line-up suggests the Lions are, perhaps unlike the Bulls, targeting tries rather than penalties, but whether they can absorb the pressure from an in-your-face Bulls defence will determine whether they can make inroads on attack or succumb to the errors that undid the Crusaders last weekend.

The Lions may have sometimes been negligent in terms of their own defence in the past, but that aspect of their game was outstanding on tour and coach Johan Ackermann is hoping that continues.

“We’ve put a lot of effort and commitment into our defence, that’s what kept us in the game quite often on tour. We weren’t really able to get our attacking game going, but hopefully at 5pm on a Saturday afternoon we’ll see better rugby on the attacking side. But defence must come with that and if we win the game because of a big tackle, I’ll definitely take that,” Ackermann said.

Teams

Lions: 15-Andries Coetzee, 14-Ruan Combrinck, 13-Lionel Mapoe, 12-Harold Vorster, 11-Anthony Volmink, 10-Elton Jantjies, 9-Ross Cronje, 8-Warren Whiteley, 7-Warwick Tecklenburg, 6-Derick Minnie, 5-Franco Mostert, 4-Andries Ferreira, 3-Ruan Dreyer, 2-Robbie Coetzee, 1-Jacques van Rooyen. Replacements – 16-Armand van der Merwe, 17-Corne Fourie, 18-Julian Redelinghuys, 19-Robert Kruger, 20-Jaco Kriel, 21-Faf de Klerk, 22-Marnitz Boshoff, 23-Howard Mnisi.

Bulls: 15-Jesse Kriel, 14-Francois Hougaard, 13-JJ Engelbrecht, 12-Burger Odendaal, 11-Bjorn Basson, 10-Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 9-Rudy Paige, 8-Pierre Spies, 7-Hanro Liebenberg, 6-Deon Stegmann, 5-Grant Hattingh, 4-Jacques du Plessis, 3-Trevor Nyakane, 2-Adriaan Strauss, 1-Dean Greyling. Replacements: 16-Callie Visagie, 17-Morné Mellet, 18-Marcel van der Merwe, 19-Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg, 20-Roelof Smit, 21-Piet van Zyl, 22-Tian Schoeman, 23-Jurgen Visser.

 

 

Bulls rectify lack of ball-carrying loosie with Potgieter signing 0

Posted on May 19, 2016 by Ken

 

The Bulls have looked to rectify their lack of big ball-carrying loose forwards by signing Springbok flank Jacques Potgieter on a three-year contract, the union confirmed at Loftus Versfeld on Wednesday.

The 30-year-old Potgieter, who is 6’4 and weighs 115kg, starred previously for the Bulls in 22 SuperRugby games in 2012-13, before becoming a high-profile player for the Waratahs. He joined the Sharks at the beginning of the year, but an ankle injury meant he never actually played a game for them, and John Smit, the CEO of the KwaZulu-Natal franchise, confirmed on Wednesday that they had released him from his contract. Potgieter is engaged to actress Angelique Gerber, whose career would be better served by them living in Gauteng.

“We always knew SuperRugby was going to be a battle on the gain-line, so we need good ball-carriers. We know what Jacques can do, we’ve seen how he’s played for the Bulls previously and for the Waratahs, so he’s definitely a good signing. At the beginning of the season we lost three loose forwards to injury at the same time, and Jacques also played four and seven for the Waratahs. Jannes Kirsten can do that too, and they both can really carry the ball,” coach Nollis Marais said.

High performance manager Xander Janse van Rensburg said Potgieter, who has been seen at practice this week already, will probably be ready to train in a week’s time. He will probably play in all three SuperRugby rounds after the June break.

The acquisition of Potgieter offsets the disappointment of losing hard-working flank Lappies Labuschagne to Japanese club Kubota at the end of the SuperRugby season.

Janse van Rensburg told The Citizen they are hopeful, however, that Labuschagne will be able to return to play for the Bulls in the 2017 SuperRugby campaign at the end of the Japanese season. The fact that Frans Ludeke is coach of Kubota means the Bulls obviously have a negotiating platform, but they did fire Ludeke last year.

Van Rensburg also announced the signing of Southern Kings tighthead prop Jacobie Adriaanse, who Marais described as “a very competitive scrummager who stood his ground against the Crusaders”.

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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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