for quality writing

Ken Borland



Sharks confirm worst-kept secret of Bok trio’s departure 0

Posted on November 24, 2016 by Ken

 

The Sharks have finally confirmed one of their worst-kept secrets and announced that Saturday’s SuperRugby match against the Stormers in Durban will be the last in Black and White for the Springbok trio of Bismarck and Jannie du Plessis and Willem Alberts.

As reported in The Citizen on May 19, the Sharks have been unable to hang on to the trio of hard men, who will all be heading for the riches of France after the World Cup. Loose forward Alberts is heading to Stade Francais, while the Du Plessis brothers will be going to Montpellier for a potentially awkward reunion with Jake White.

Hooker Bismarck du Plessis has been at the Sharks for 11 years and is their most-capped Super Rugby player, due to finish on 130 appearances after the Stormers game. Jannie joined the Sharks in 2008 and has 117 Super Rugby caps for the KwaZulu-Natalians, while Alberts arrived in Durban from the Lions in 2010 and made 72 appearances.

Chief executive John Smit told the Sharks website that it had been a privilege to have the trio in Durban.

“These three gents have played an instrumental and invaluable role at the Sharks over the years. It is naturally disappointing to lose players of this calibre that have given so much to Sharks rugby. As in many senior statesmen’s careers, they felt the time was right to experience something different abroad.

“We will never forget the many courageous performances from these three players, the countless outstanding performances and steals from Bissy, the rock-solid anchor at tighthead in Jannie and the enforcer in Willem. Not to mention Jannie playing the victorious Currie Cup final in 2013 with a broken hand.

“On behalf of the Sharks, I take this opportunity to thank them for their dedication, commitment and outstanding contribution to the franchise. We wish them and their families the very best for this new chapter they are embarking on,” Smit said.

Waratahs powerhouse Jacques Potgieter and newly-signed former Cheetahs and Biarritz loose forward Philip van der Walt will fill in for Alberts, but at the moment the Du Plessis brothers will have to be replaced by home-grown talent.

 

 

Springboks Bismarck, JP & Lewies all return for Sharks 0

Posted on July 15, 2016 by Ken

 

Springboks Bismarck du Plessis, JP Pietersen and Stephan Lewies will all return to the Sharks’ starting line-up for their SuperRugby match against the Highlanders in Dunedin on Friday, director of rugby Gary Gold announced on Wednesday.

The embattled Sharks will be desperate to start their tour on a positive note and hooker Du Plessis and lock Lewies will bring some much-needed physicality to the pack, while the experience, size and defensive nous of Pietersen is going to be crucial at outside centre as the visitors look to contain one of the most potent backlines in Super Rugby.

Franco Marais, Waylon Murray and Mouritz Botha all move down to the bench.

The other changes to the starting line-up see tighthead prop Jannie du Plessis rested and replaced by Lourens Adriaanse for a match that will test the Sharks’ mobility and defence more than their set-piece prowess, while Willem Alberts shifts to eighthman with Renaldo Bothma moving to blindside flank.

Gold confirmed that, because of injuries, he is going to have to shuffle his loose-forward stocks carefully, with Etienne Oosthuizen the only reserve flank on tour.

“Etienne will get some game time and will have to start a few games to give other guys like Renaldo or Willem a rest. At this stage it’s the only option I have with Ryan Kankowski and Tera Mtembu injured, Jean Deysel still serving his suspension and the Du Preez brothers with the SA U20 squad. We don’t have any more options and we have to look at it carefully and see how we go, it just means that Etienne is going to play more of a role. Mouritz Botha and Stephan Lewies can cover the blindside, if need be, but hopefully we don’t have that situation,” Gold said.

Fred Zeilinga will be flyhalf for at least another week and will be looking to impress after struggling against the Bulls a fortnight ago. Francois Steyn returns from suspension next week, and is flying over to New Zealand in the next couple of days, while Lionel Cronje is the other option for the number 10 jersey.

Steyn can, of course, also play fullback or centre and it is anybody’s guess where Gold will eventually employ him next weekend against the Hurricanes.

“Frans’s strength comes from his ability to cover all three positions, we will see what happens this weekend. He will only be joining the team this weekend, and we will see how all the guys go and who performs and we will have a look at where we best see Frans fit into the team.  I see him as all three of those positions,” Gold said.

Team: Odwa Ndungane, S’bura Sithole, JP Pietersen, Andre Esterhuizen, Lwazi Mvovo, Fred Zeilinga, Cobus Reinach, Willem Alberts, Renaldo Bothma, Marcell Coetzee, Marco Wentzel, Stephan Lewies, Lourens Adriaanse, Bismarck du Plessis, Tendai Mtawarira. Bench – Franco Marais, Dale Chadwick, Matt Stevens, Mouritz Botha, Etienne Oosthuizen, Conrad Hoffmann, Lionel Cronje, Waylon Murray.

Sharks need new captain and hooker after Bismarck ban 0

Posted on May 04, 2016 by Ken

 

The Sharks will have to make a change at hooker and appoint a new captain for the next month after Bismarck du Plessis was suspended for four weeks by Sanzar on Sunday for petulantly kicking out at the head of an opponent during the match against the Chiefs at Kings Park.

Du Plessis’ act of gross unsportsmanship came just three minutes after the Chiefs had had their hooker, Hika Elliott, red-carded, and subsequently suspended for one week, for charging into the back of Tendai Mtawarira’s head with his shoulder at a ruck, almost immediately transferring all the pressure back on to the home side.

Matters became even worse for the Sharks when Frans Steyn was red-carded for a dangerous tip-tackle before the half-hour mark and his hearing is set for Monday.

While those two senior players let the side down so badly, the other 13 players on the field rallied magnificently to sneak a 12-11 victory over the Chiefs.

Kyle Cooper and Monde Hadebe are able replacements for Du Plessis in the front row, but the issue of who takes over the captaincy is less clearcut.

Flyhalf Pat Lambie or eighthman Ryan Kankowski would appear to be the frontrunners.

Director of rugby Gary Gold also faces a tough decision once Du Plessis returns to action on April 19 as this is the Springbok’s second incident of foul play at a crucial time this season, following his assault on Victor Matfield in the Sharks’ loss to the Bulls in Pretoria three weeks ago. Does Gold trust that the fiery hooker can mend his ways and remain disciplined under pressure for the sake of his team or does he take firm action against a repeat offender?

The matches that Du Plessis will miss are at home to the Western Force and Crusaders, the visit to Ellis Park to play the Lions and the return fixture against the Bulls in Durban.

Bismarck back in the starting line-up 0

Posted on October 17, 2014 by Ken

Bismarck du Plessis, widely regarded as the world’s best hooker, is back in the starting line-up for the Springboks’ crunch Test against the All Blacks in Johannesburg on Saturday.

The South Africans are fortunate, of course, to be able to call on Adriaan Strauss of the Free State Cheetahs as the back-up on the bench, while Saracens star Schalk Brits is also in the wider squad but cannot break into the match-day 23.

The Springboks struggled in the tight phases during the first half of the Rugby Championship and the younger brother of tighthead prop Jannie has never been known as the strongest scrummager, while the inconsistency of his lineout throwing was also exploited by the Argentineans and especially by the Wallabies in Perth.

The most noticeable sign that something was amiss with Bismarck, however, came in the absence of the massive hits, storming ball-carries and steals on the ground that he was famous for last year.

The elevation of Strauss to the starting line-up saw an improvement in the Springboks’ set-pieces but it has also allowed Du Plessis to make more of an impact coming off the bench.

So is Du Plessis’ star on the wane or is this just a temporary loss of form for the Sharks powerhouse?

At the age of 30, it is more likely to be the latter and the Sharks’ insistence on playing Du Plessis in all 17 of their SuperRugby games this year seemed to have diluted the energy of one of the most explosive rugby players in the world.

“Bismarck has played a lot of rugby this year and we always planned to rest him. He’s had a good break now after Adriaan started three in a row, and the selection is purely a rotation, to keep both players fresh,” Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer confirmed.

“Adriaan is playing some of the best rugby of his whole career, but last week against Australia took a lot out of the players, the ball was in play more than ever before and there were more tackles as well. It doesn’t matter who starts, they both have very strong points and they’re both in-form.”

 

 

 



↑ Top