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Ken Borland



Stormers rely on emotion & pride to stop Bulls going top 0

Posted on May 30, 2016 by Ken

 

The Bulls will finish on top of the Vodacom SuperRugby log if they can beat the Stormers in the final round at Newlands on Saturday, but the home side will be relying on emotion and pride as star wing Bryan Habana pulls on the blue and white jersey for the last time.

Finishing on top of the log would bring with it enormous reward for the Bulls because it means they advance directly to the semi-finals, without having to expend any extra energy on a playoff match and they would play their remaining matches in this year’s competition on the hallowed turf of Loftus Versfeld.

And we can banish any thoughts of rugby in South Africa being played along the lines of what’s best for the country and other democratic notions; the Stormers are not going to hold back on their fiercest rivals just because they are the country’s best hope of winning the competition.

For one, the Stormers will be out to ensure a winning send-off for France-bound Habana, the greatest Springbok winger since The Prince of Wings, Carel du Plessis, and, secondly, they will also want to satisfy their demanding supporters, who have sold out Newlands to come and see another epic north/south derby.

Captain Jean de Villiers, who returns to the team at inside centre, has been speaking of playing for pride in the build-up to the game.

“The focus is on our pride and playing for the jersey,” said De Villiers. “We are professional rugby players and we have a job to do, and that is to go out and do our best to win. We have disappointed ourselves this season and we’ve also disappointed our coaches and supporters and we are busy trying to make up for that by finishing the season well. We’ve won four in a row and we would like to make it five against the Bulls.

“Clashes between the Stormers and the Bulls are always huge and the ticket sales for this game have summed that up. The focus is on our pride as a team and playing for the jersey, which means we will do our best to win the game.”

Stormers supporters did not see too much pride from their team when they last played the Bulls – they meekly succumbed to a 25-17 defeat at Loftus in the opening round of South African action.

Bulls flyhalf Morne Steyn killed the Stormers’ chances that day with his kicking, both tactically and at goal, and coach Allister Coetzee has responded by dropping his flyhalf Elton Jantjies and replacing him with the inexperienced Gary van Aswegen. To be fair, though, regular fullback Joe Pietersen, the Stormers’ best kicker, is out injured and choosing Van Aswegen gives them a right and left-footed kicker with Gio Aplon moving into the number 15 jersey.

Rynhardt Elstadt has returned to the starting loose trio and will help beef up a Stormers pack that will have to face up to the physicality of the Bulls far better than they did in their previous meeting.

The Bulls also have important changes, with Springboks Jan Serfontein and Francois Hougaard both out injured and replaced by Francois Venter and Jano Vermaak respectively.

The 22-year-old Venter is another bright midfield prospect and he started all but one game for the Bulls at inside centre in last year’s Currie Cup and also made eight SuperRugby appearances.

Vermaak is arguably the form scrumhalf in South Africa this year and made his return from the bench last weekend after a hamstring injury that cut short his Springbok campaign. He and Steyn form a formidable half-back combination and that is one area where the Bulls seem to have a clear advantage over the youthful Stormers partnership of Van Aswegen and Louis Schreuder.

There will possibly be even more emotion at King’s Park on Saturday as the end of a Sharks era is reached, while the Southern Kings will be desperately hoping they are not playing their last SuperRugby match.

There have been few more dedicated servants of KwaZulu-Natal rugby over the past 30 years than Hugh Reece-Edwards, but he and his co-coach Grant Bashford, both standing in after the unceremonious firing of their boss, John Plumtree, will be in charge for the last time before John Smit’s regime change takes effect in Durban.

The Sharks players, understandably ill-at-ease over the way Plumtree was dispensed with even though he had been promised a two-year contract extension, probably have more to gain from the game than their Kings opponents, who are a second-string outfit anyway.

At this stage, nothing is more important for the Kings than the promotion/relegation games against the Lions in a fortnight’s time, so they have rested all their regular starters who have injury niggles.

That means no more than three players who started last weekend against the Stormers – lock David Bulbring, terrific eighthman Jacques Engelbrecht and wing Marcello Sampson – are in the run-on XV for King’s Park.

No team has had more selection challenges than the Sharks in this year’s competition and this week the complications were Butch James’s four-week suspension for his wild tackle against the Bulls and a concurrent injury to Pat Lambie.

That means Riaan Viljoen, who showed in last year’s Currie Cup that he is more than comfortable in the number 10 jersey, shifts from fullback to flyhalf.

And while Habana is saying goodbye in Cape Town, fellow Springbok wing JP Pietersen returns to action this weekend in Durban.

The stadium may have been called King’s Park since 1891, but it has also been dubbed The Shark Tank. The second-string Kings are more likely to feel that they’ve been dropped inside the latter than feeling at home on Saturday.

Teams

The Sharks (v Southern Kings, Saturday 17:05): Odwa Ndungane, JP Pietersen, Louis Ludik, Meyer Bosman, Lwazi Mvovo, Riaan Viljoen, Charl McLeod, Keegan Daniel, Jean Deysel, Marcell Coetzee, Franco van der Merwe, Edwin Hewitt, Jannie du Plessis, Bismarck du Plessis, Tendai Mtawarira. Replacements: Kyle Cooper, Wiehahn Herbst, Jandré Marais, Willem Alberts, Jacques Botes, Cobus Reinach, Fred Zeilinga.

Southern Kings (v The Sharks, Saturday 17:05): Siviwe Soyizwapi, Hadleigh Parkes, Waylon Murray, Shane Gates, Marcello Sampson, George Whitehead, Nicolas Vergallo, Jacques Engelbrecht, Mpho Mbiyozo, Devin Oosthuizen, David Bulbring, Steven Sykes, Kevin Buys, Hannes Franklin, Charl du Plessis. Replacements – Grant Kemp, Bandise Maku, Darron Nell, Thabo Mamojele, Aidon Davis, Shaun Venter, Michael Killian.

Stormers (v Bulls, Saturday 19:15): Gio Aplon, Gerhard van den Heever, Juan de Jongh, Jean de Villiers, Bryan Habana, Gary van Aswegen, Louis Schreuder, Nizaam Carr, Rynhardt Elstadt, Deon Fourie, De Kock Steenkamp, Eben Etzebeth, Brok Harris, Scarra Ntubeni, Steven Kitshoff. Replacements – Martin Bezuidenhout, Pat Cilliers, Gerbrandt Grobler, Don Armand, Nic Groom, Elton Jantjies, Damian de Allende.

Bulls (v Stormers, Saturday 19:15): Zane Kirchner, Akona Ndungane, JJ Engelbrecht, Francois Venter, Bjorn Basson, Morné Steyn, Jano Vermaak, Dewald Potgieter, Jacques Potgieter, Deon Stegmann, Grant Hattingh, Flip van der Merwe, Werner Kruger, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Dean Greyling. Replacements – Callie Visagie, Frik Kirsten, Jacques du Plessis, Jono Ross, Rudy Paige, Jürgen Visser, Morné Mellett.

Other fixtures: Crusaders v Hurricanes (Friday 9:35); Melbourne Rebels v Highlanders (Friday 11:40); Blues v Chiefs (Saturday 9:35); Waratahs v Reds (Saturday 11:40); Force v Brumbies (Saturday 13:45). Bye – Cheetahs (who will climb from 6th to 5th if the Reds lose to the Waratahs).

http://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2013-07-12-superrugby-preview-bulls-should-expect-no-patriotism-from-stormers/#.V017ufl97IU

Bryan Habana Q&A 0

Posted on July 28, 2014 by Ken

Bryan, back in South Africa and giving back to the Nyanga community for Mandela Day, have you had time to reflect on the successes of the last few months?

It’s not ideal being outside of South Africa and I’m unbelievably proud to call myself South African. Until you leave these shores, you never know what you’re missing, but I’m very happy where I am in France. The language is tough and sometimes if they talk too fast then you lose it, but luckily there are a lot of internationals at Toulon. It’s taught me to become a lot more independent. Driving on the right-hand side of the road takes some getting used to and I’ve stalled a couple of times! But staying on the French Riviera is pretty positive and a happy player is an in-form player.

It was a pretty special end to the season in France after I was a bit frustrated at the beginning. I was injured after the Rugby Championship, four months out, and then I was injured again on the end-of-year tour for another two weeks. So to come back and play a part in the finals was very special.

It was fantastic playing alongside Jonny Wilkinson and seeing the way he bowed out, there was no better way to end his career.

 

Those successes must fill you with a lot of confidence for the season ahead?

We have a lot to build on but there’s been a change in format in the Heineken Cup plus the Top 14 is 28 games against tough opposition every week. I went over to France to win trophies and I didn’t think it would happen as quickly as it did. So the foundation has been laid, I have a couple of years left with Toulon and I hope to contribute to even more trophies.

 

Was it a tough challenge coming to France and playing in those finals in your first season over there?

Experience plays a big part. I’ve played 90-odd Tests, so you learn how to bring something else out on the big occasions. Plus I had 11 amazing seasons in South Africa, good and bad times, and winning trophies from the Vodacom Cup to Currie Cup, SuperRugby and the Tri-Nations.

So I was happy to experience something different in France, I didn’t want to get stuck in a rut, you want to learn how to deal with new environments and challenges.

 

What are your future ambitions in terms of South Africa?

I hope to play more than a hundred Tests for the Springboks, play international rugby for another year or two. There are those elusive couple of tries for the world record and I’d love to achieve 100 caps. To be part of the 2015 World Cup is the short-term goal. It has without a doubt been the proudest moments of my career to pull that jersey over my head, but a lot still has to happen for me to reach those landmarks. But I’m going to push myself harder and further.

 

What’s the mood like in the Springbok camp at the moment?

Heyneke Meyer and his team are working towards something special. There are very exciting youngsters in the team and old heads who know the ropes. I hope to contribute to that journey, there were those two losses to New Zealand last year and we hope to rectify that in the Rugby Championship.

This Springbok side is heading towards one of the best I’ve been involved with, the foundation has been laid and a great atmosphere has been created. This is one of the happiest teams I’ve been involved with, thanks to Heyneke Meyer, who has put the onus on the individual.

2009 was a phenomenal year and we’re growing ever closer to that with a mix of the older guys and the newer combinations. We’re definitely heading the right way, we can only get better because the competition for places is high. You’re not sure of getting your place back these days if you sit out.

 

Willie le Roux was sensational in the June Tests, what’s it like playing next to him?

Willie is very exciting. Three years ago we played against him at Western Province when he was playing for Boland and it’s fantastic how he has embraced his opportunity with the Cheetahs. Cornal Hendricks too, came from Sevens and has had a huge impact with the Cheetahs.

Willie is a fantastic playmaker, probably up there with the best one or two fullbacks in the world. Hopefully I can be at the end of a few more of his final passes!

 

What are your future goals with Toulon?

After 11 seasons in South Africa which were the best times of my life, I want to leave the Toulon jersey in a better shape than I found it. I want to give my most for Toulon and South Africa.

 

How is your relationship with Mourad Boudjellal?

Mourad must take a lot of the credit for our success. He has put a lot of money into Toulon, he’s a staunch Toulon rugby man and he backed players even though people thought they were at the end of their careers. He took Toulon up from the second division with players like Tana Umaga, Victor Matfield, George Gregan and Andrew Mehrtens and now he’s developed a side of world-beaters.

To be double champions is pretty special and he must take credit for that, without him it would not have happened.

Mourad does not speak that much English so we haven’t had many conversations, but he’s as passionate as you can get about rugby. He does the Pilou Pilou for us when things go well.

 

There was talk about you representing South Africa at the Commonwealth Games Sevens, what happened there?

I’m very disappointed I won’t be going to the Commonwealth Games, but I understand that I am contracted to Toulon and the Commonwealth Games are not in the Test window. But it would have been fantastic to be part of that.

I went to a couple of training sessions with the Springbok Sevens and I could see their passion and enthusiasm. I’m firmly behind them and they have more than enough talent to do very well.

 

   

Habana scores hat-trick as SA squeeze Australia 0

Posted on October 15, 2012 by Ken

 

Wing Bryan Habana used his predatory instincts to claim a hat-trick of tries as South Africa squeezed Australia relentlessly and beat them 31-8 (half-time 14-3) in their Rugby Championship Test at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

The Springboks regained their attacking spark in front of a passionate crowd of 44 463 at their most secure home venue, but the victory was set up by their big men up front, who dominated the collisions and successfully disrupted the Wallaby lineout.

South Africa could have won by an even healthier margin, but goalkicking woes continued to dog them as flyhalf Johan Goosen missed the first two penalties and scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar then failed with two penalties and two conversion attempts.

Habana ran in tries in the 29th, 62nd and 79th minutes to become South Africa’s leading try-scorer against Australia with eight in 16 Tests, beating Breyton Paulse’s mark of seven.

Fullback Zane Kirchner and flank Francois Louw scored the other Springbok tries, with Pienaar adding three conversions.

Australia, who were ravaged by injuries and finished with 14 men because they had used all seven of their substitutions, scored a 66th-minute try through replacement centre Mike Harris, while flyhalf Kurtley Beale kicked a first-half penalty.

After the 20-year-old Goosen, starting in place of the experienced Morne Steyn, missed two penalties in the first 10 minutes, South Africa decided to aim their next kickable penalty to touch. The rolling maul was well-defended by Australia, and loose forward Michael Hooper almost stole possession at a ruck, but in the end the home side managed to get the ball out right where Kirchner darted over in the corner for the opening try.

A minute later, a brilliant attacking sally by Goosen was stopped just short of the tryline by centre Pat McCabe and the Springboks’ kicking yips continued when Pienaar missed a long-range penalty.

But in the 29th minute, eighthman Duane Vermeulen, who lit up the first half with his brilliant foraging at the rucks and steely defence, made a break, Goosen was in support, Pienaar threw a dummy and made a half-break before Habana pounced on the pop pass and sliced through for his first try.

Pienaar’s conversion put South Africa 14-0 ahead and they were well on top at halftime even though the lead was narrowed to 11 points by a Beale penalty.

Just a minute before half-time, Kirchner was forced out on the corner flag by Adam Ashley-Cooper, who was playing at fullback because Berrick Barnes went off with a chest injury. Ashley-Cooper knocked himself out in the process though and was taken to hospital with concussion.

The Springboks again relied on their rolling maul to set up their first try of the second half, Louw scoring as the Wallabies’ defence shattered. Replacement prop James Slipper was yellow-carded just before the try for ruck infringements.

Habana earned his second try through quick thinking, finding hooker Adriaan Strauss with a quick lineout throw and then getting the ball back and sprinting clear from halfway, before notching his second hat-trick in 82 Tests with a minute left in the game as he ran in a breakaway try set up by Louw’s break and quick hands from fellow wing Francois Hougaard and replacement flyhalf Elton Jantjies.

Australia’s only try was set up by Beale, making his first start at flyhalf, as he kept the defence guessing, embarking on a crossfield run before straightening and throwing the ball out wide for Harris to score.

But the Wallabies were then reduced to 14 men and just seven forwards when referee Alain Rolland ruled they were not allowed to bring on replacement hooker Saia Fainga’a for the injured Tatafu Polota-Nau because seven substitutions had already been made, with loosehead prop Benn Robinson returning to the field after being replaced in the first half.

While Habana stole the limelight, it was the outstanding Springbok loose trio of Vermeulen, Louw and Willem Alberts that kept their opposition on the back foot, the bonus point for five tries leaving South Africa on 12 points and still in contention for the title if Argentina upset New Zealand later on Saturday.

Scorers

South Africa – Tries: Zane Kirchner, Bryan Habana (3), Francois Louw. Conversions: Ruan Pienaar (3).

Australia – Try: Mike Harris. Penalty: Kurtley Beale.

 

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