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Ken Borland

Handling & defence chief concerns for Nollis 2

Posted on March 27, 2017 by Ken


Handling errors and poor defence were the chief concerns of Bulls coach Nollis Marais following their dismal display in Albany which saw them being belted 38-14 by the Blues at the weekend.

Despite having their fair share of possession and shading the territory battle, the Bulls were outscored by six tries to two and fell apart badly in the second half after going into the break level at 7-7.

“We were very competitive in the first half but we didn’t take our chances in the second half. We made too many errors with our handling and we couldn’t convert from the lineout. We gave them too many opportunities and obviously the defence is definitely a concern.

“We conceded too many points in the second half and we will have to look at that, re-visit our defence,” Marais said.

The Bulls allowed 13 linebreaks and missed 24 tackles against the Blues, and have now conceded 17 tries in four matches.

The Blues had won just one of their four matches prior to their meeting with the Bulls, who now face far tougher opposition in the form of the unbeaten Chiefs in Hamilton on Saturday.

“There will definitely be one or two changes to the team, but we’re not going to change structurally, we have to make sure everything is in place for next Saturday,” the coach said.

The scrums were perhaps the only area where the Bulls did themselves justice.

“It was a great performance in the scrums, Trevor Nyakane did really well at tighthead, and we were dominant there, so that was a very good positive,” Marais said.

“But we didn’t take our chances in the second half, we wasted too many opportunities. A couple of times we were in their 22 but we didn’t convert that into points either.”


Absence of Alberts would be major blow for Sharks 0

Posted on August 09, 2016 by Ken


The fitness of Willem Alberts, Franco Marais and Conrad Hoffmann are the new concerns facing Sharks coach Gary Gold ahead of his team announcement on Thursday for their SuperRugby match against the Hurricanes in Wellington on Saturday.

The absence of the inspirational physical presence of Alberts would obviously be a massive blow for the Sharks as they take on the runaway leaders of the competition and, although Renaldo Bothma is fit to play, the only other specialist loose forward on tour is Etienne Oosthuizen, who did not have the best of games last weekend against the Highlanders.

The arrival of the experienced Kyle Cooper from South Africa this week means the reserve hooker berth is taken care of should Marais not pass a late fitness test, but the player Cooper replaced, Cobus Reinach, has left a massive gap at scrumhalf.

Reinach has fractured his hand, according to Gold, and his substitute against the Highlanders, Hoffmann, now also has a niggle. The inexperienced Stefan Ungerer could therefore be in for a baptism of fire at The Cake Tin.

After four successive defeats – two of them in ignominious fashion – Gold said he does not believe he needs to light a fire under his squad just yet.

“For me the big stick comes out when you have a look at your play and get a sense of a group of players who are lethargic, non-committed and are not trying hard enough. I do not believe that this is the case at the moment.

“Over the course of my coaching career I have had to use the big stick. Don’t get me wrong, I am by no means satisfied with our performances, but at this moment in time I see a group of players who are hurting a lot and whose pride is at stake.

“As a coach and a leader, one needs to assess the situation. Everybody goes through tough times. I do not believe for a minute that this group lacks commitment, in fact, the players are committed to fixing the problem.

“Difficult times require calm heads and mature leadership. We have a great group of senior guys who are committed to seeing out this campaign.  A lot of lessons have been learnt and a huge amount of lessons can be taken out of this campaign, which will only benefit us down the line,” Gold said.


Springbok greats concerned, but not writing Meyer’s team off 0

Posted on August 17, 2015 by Ken


Former Springbok greats Frik du Preez and Carel du Plessis admit they have concerns after the current team lost to Argentina for the first time ever, but both say one result does not mean that South Africa suddenly have no chance at the World Cup.

The Springboks went down 37-25 to Argentina last weekend in Durban and tonight’s re-match in Buenos Aires is not only a chance to redeem themselves after one of the lowest points in the team’s history but also their last official Test before the World Cup starts on September 18.

“We’re all disappointed by the game against Argentina but let’s be honest, against Australia they played very well and they improved by 60% the next weekend against New Zealand but just lost again. It’s been the first time a Springbok rugby team has been allowed to run the ball from everywhere and they need to get used to this new pattern of play, they’ve never played this type of rugby before. Of course there are going to be mistakes because it is high-risk,” Du Preez, South Africa’s Rugby Player of the 20th Century, told The Citizen on Friday.

Du Plessis, whose 12 Tests in the 1980s were enough to earn him the nickname ‘Prince of Wings’ and who also coached the Springboks in 1997, agreed with Du Preez.

“I don’t think you can go on just one bad performance, they played well against New Zealand and Australia, but there are obviously some concerns around systemic things like selection and playing guys in different positions. I’m also concerned that we might be overly leaning towards experience, because their performance might not be up to the required intensity,” Du Plessis said.

But Du Plessis’ captain in 1997, Gary Teichmann, said he now worried that the Springboks had lost their way just before the World Cup.

“I thought we were on the right track after we were in position to win the matches against the Wallabies and All Blacks but for a couple of lapses in concentration, but it’s pretty obvious after last Saturday that we’re not. The loss to Argentina threw a big spanner in the works, we just didn’t arrive for the game. That has definitely set us back and I’m worried that we’ll go back to the kick-chase game which won’t win us the World Cup,” Teichmann said.

Du Preez said the Springboks still have the players to win the World Cup for the third time.

“Argentina have done us a great favour because now we’re not one of the favourites for the World Cup, but I still believe we have an outside chance. We have got the guys to surprise everyone, but we have brilliant players who are injured. They’ve been out for months and we don’t know if they can all of a sudden perform. The problems are up front because we have a beautiful backline,” Du Preez said.

Teichmann agreed that the personnel is there, but coach Heyneke Meyer has to keep his nerve.

“We’ve certainly got the players but Heyneke tends to go back to what he knows. We had previously played a good brand of rugby, but then when we didn’t win, Meyer went across to the UK and changed it. When the pressure mounts, he tends to go back to the different style of more kick-chase and less ball-in-hand, which is a concern,” Teichmann said.

Du Plessis said Meyer had really managed the players well up till now and he needed to ensure there were settled combinations at the World Cup.

“He needs to try and settle the team and bed the combinations down as quickly as possible, which is going to be a challenge. His decisions may be unpopular, but he needs to make them earlier rather than later to allow the team to settle down. The leadership also still needs to be determined … ” Du Plessis said.

“People may look at things differently, but now is not the time to make changes. Heyneke’s obviously going to stick to what he believes in and the style of play that has been successful before, trusting his players to deliver is going to give them their best shot.”

Du Plessis said that, in terms of transformation, Meyer had to have given potential black players enough time by now in the team environment for them to be settled and confident at international level.

“There are some good players who should have had a run, but Heyneke has to believe that they will improve his team and it’s a bit late now!”


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