for quality writing

Ken Borland



Top-class Sharks halfbacks hoping for a change in injury fortunes 0

Posted on February 21, 2017 by Ken

 

Pat Lambie and Cobus Reinach have endured a wretched time when it comes to injury in recent SuperRugby seasons, but Sharks backline coach Sean Everitt said on Tuesday that the team are excited about being able to field a top-class halfback pair in this year’s campaign.

“That’s where we’ve fallen short in the last couple of years, losing Pat early and then Cobus being unlucky in the last few years, means they have missed a lot of SuperRugby which is never easy for a team to lose their first-choice halfbacks. And SuperRugby is not really the sort of tournament you want to breed youngsters in, that’s more for the Currie Cup, and we’ve also had no Frans Steyn.

“But the youngsters are important and they’ve been working hard, because Pat has to rest at some stage. Innocent Radebe and Benhard Janse van Rensburg have done well and Curwin Bosch can play flyhalf as well.

“Cobus will certainly provide some x-factor, he’s an opportunist, but he does the basics well and has a good boot too. He’s been here a long time, he knows the systems well and he delivers on the field,” Everitt said.

While experience at nine and 10 will obviously be cherished by the Sharks, they do have a herd of youngsters challenging for backline places and that has pleased Everitt as well.

“The youngsters have a lot of enthusiasm and since losing JP Pietersen, Willie le Roux and Odwa Ndungane last year, the Currie Cup bunch have grown considerably. They’ve certainly played themselves into contention and that’s exciting.

“We have Kobus van Wyk on the wing, although we will look at him at centre if we have problems there. But Lukhanyo Am has done well in the Currie Cup and has had good preparation, so we’ll be looking to build up his combination with Andre Esterhuizen.

“Jeremy Ward is obviously a good signing because he was one of the top age-group players in his position [centre] last year and we mustn’t forget Johan Deysel from the Leopards, who played in the 2015 World Cup for Namibia. It’s time to move on and these guys have what it takes,” Everitt said.

But there is also the presence of veteran French fullback Clement Poitrenaud and Everitt said he would play a leadership role in guiding the young backline.

“Clement is definitely in contention for selection in the match-day 23, he has a lot of experience having played 47 Tests. We have a young backline, so he will be good for us, leading and helping those guys. He’s very popular amongst his team-mates, his English is quite good and he has a good sense of humour. Most importantly, the guys admire his skill-set,” Everitt said.

http://citizen.co.za/sport/sport-rugby/1428003/sharks-holding-thumbs-their-dynamic-duo-keep-fit/

Big Trevor & the lollipop: Meyer leaving nothing to chance 0

Posted on December 22, 2016 by Ken

Being one of the largest specimens of humanity in Pretoria, Trevor Nyakane is not exactly hard to spot. But I was nevertheless very excited to see him at Loftus Versfeld the other day, mostly because of what he was doing.

The Bulls prop was busy with Springbok assistant coach John McFarland practising lineout throwing, with the defence guru using the big metal “lollipop stick” he designed exactly for this purpose to replicate Victor Matfield’s hands soaring high above the opposition and claiming the throw that sets up the maul that sets up the try that wins South Africa the World Cup later this year.

I was intrigued because I figured this may mean Nyakane is being groomed to play hooker for the Springboks.

There has not been much for the Bulls to be happy about this season, but Nyakane has been one of the few shining lights at Loftus Versfeld, and here, at the same venue, he was showing the adaptability that has already seen him master the tighthead position, having left the Cheetahs as a loosehead at the start of the year.

I was very excited because, if Nyakane could play as a back-up No 2 it would mean Heyneke Meyer could name just two hookers in his squad, thereby freeing up a place that could help unblock the amazing loose forward log-jam he has to wrestle with.

Because the World Cup in England will be just an overnight flight away from South Africa, it means Nyakane could sit on the bench if one of the two match-day hookers went down on the eve of a game, with a replacement being flown over if the injury was more long-term.

At the moment, Meyer can only take five loose forwards to the World Cup (with Oupa Mohoje going as a lock), so Duane Vermeulen, Francois Louw, Willem Alberts, Schalk Burger and Marcell Coetzee would appear to be the frontrunners. But that would mean leaving quality, in-form players such as Jaco Kriel, Warren Whiteley, Siya Kolisi and Nizaam Carr behind, so any scheme that could sneak one of those on to the plane to England should be investigated.

Unfortunately it’s turned out that this was one of the many occasions when I was getting ahead of myself and Nyakane is definitely not being groomed as a hooker and Meyer will choose three No 2s in the World Cup squad.

But it is one of the many examples of how detailed Meyer’s planning is for the World Cup because Nyakane is being trained as a back-up thrower should the on-field hooker get a yellow card. Of which Bismarck du Plessis has many.

It’s an emergency policy for 10 minutes, but it has happened a couple of times to the Springboks in the last two years, with Vermeulen notably forced to throw into the lineout against Ireland last year.

It’s another of the many one-percenters that Meyer reckons could decide the World Cup and the Springbok coach has gone into minute detail in his planning. That includes poring over the minutiae of every previous tournament and the venues where his team will play. He has even gone into the weather records and keeps an eye on the long-term forecasts.

Unfortunately there still seems to be no solution to the problem that will see the likes of Kriel, Whiteley, Kolisi and Carr staying at home!

http://citizen.co.za/sport/sport-columnists/408023/kb-col/

Cindy Cant can tell a better dreams-come-true story than all her team-mates 2

Posted on June 25, 2014 by Ken

New Springbok women's rugby cap Cindy Cant

The South African women’s rugby team leave for London on Wednesday for their World Cup warm-up tour and nobody is more excited – or has a better story to tell – than Pretoria resident Cindy Cant.

Nobody has waited longer than Cant, or held on to their dream for so long, to play for the Springboks. The 31-year-old Bulls captain will be making her debut for South Africa after a dozen years of top-flight rugby.

“It is a dream come true and very unexpected. I’ve always dreamt of playing in the Green and Gold, but it’s been very hard with a few ups and downs. Every time you see the men singing the national anthem, some part inside of you wants to do the same thing. That dream is always there, it feels like something you haven’t accomplished,” Cant told The Pretoria News at the Springbok women’s training camp at the University of Pretoria’s High Performance Centre.

Cant has had to endure awful World Cup disappointment before. In 2006 she was widely acknowledged as one of the top centres in women’s provincial rugby but missed out on selection for the Springboks; in 2010 she made the squad, but had to withdraw because she had just started a new job.

“Four years back, around this time, I was part of the squad, but then I had to withdraw. There were long tears cried then and I had to come to grips with the thought that playing for the Springboks had passed me by. So I was a bit shocked when I got chosen this time!” Cant said.

 

Springbok women’s coach Lawrence Sephaka sees Cant’s place in the team as being at fullback and the Richard’s Bay product was given a window of opportunity in that position during two trials games last month.

“I’m usually a number 13 but the coach is using me at 15, where I started my rugby many moons back. I also played fullback in the two trials games and I thought I had nothing to lose, so I just gave it my all. I could hardly walk afterwards!” Cant said.

The former Tuks student says she kept playing high-level rugby, despite the sacrifices it has forced her to make as an amateur sport in this country, because of her “passion and love for the game”.

“From when I was very young, I used to watch with my dad and play with the kids in the street in Richards Bay. It was our ‘gang’ and we played all sorts of rugby,” Cant said.

There was a moment in the training camp when she realised just how desperate she was to play for the Springboks.

“We had a session with a psychologist and he told us to picture ourselves standing in France with our Springbok jerseys on. I was just crying and crying because I wanted it so much,” Cant revealed.

Her Springbok selection was also celebrated by her colleagues at the fashion school where she is the vice-principal.

“They were very happy for me and threw me a surprise party with green cupcakes!” Cant said.

Her stability at the back, good kicking skills, strong defence and ball skills was the sort of all-round package coach Sephaka could not ignore and a long-awaited call-up to the national team was the gift for Cant from the former Springbok prop.

 

 

New spinner Piedt won’t be greedy with variations 0

Posted on June 23, 2014 by Ken

Dane Piedt has the variations

New Proteas spinner Dane Piedt has excited many with his wicket-taking variations, to which 45 batsmen succumbed in the Sunfoil Series, but the Cape Cobras offie knows that international batsmen will feast on him if he tries too much with the ball.

Piedt is heading off to Sri Lanka on his first tour with the Proteas and there can scarcely be a more daunting place for a finger spinner, even one armed with doosras and carrom balls, to make his debut.

“It’s going to be really important to get into a spell. You can’t go for four or five runs an over in long-form cricket because then the captain can’t set fields. Once you’ve bowled 10 overs for 20 runs then you can start manipulating things, bowl variations and change the field,” Piedt said at the Centre of Excellence in Pretoria, where the Proteas were having a fitness camp.

According to his Cobras coach, Paul Adams, what makes Piedt so good is his ability to “just sit at one end and create pressure”.

“When a spinner is a match-winner and takes five-fors in the last innings of the game, that’s what you want to see. It’s great to not crumble under the pressure of being the one relied on to get those wickets, and Dane’s managed to pull off a couple of those performances this season,” Adams added.

While Piedt was a revelation for the Cobras, bowling them to the four-day title, he has been on the national selectors’ radar for a while, attending the national academy in 2011 and touring Australia with the Emerging South Africa squad in 2012 and playing for SA A last year.

“I’ve been given responsibility at the Cobras. Justin Ontong [the captain] always threw me the ball and said ‘bowl the team out’. He used me as a wicket-taker and not just in four-day cricket. It’s the role I was given from the start of the season.

“I had to take it to the next level because we were missing a couple of bowlers with Beuran Hendricks, Rory Kleinveldt, Robin Peterson and Vernon Philander all with the national squad, I had to use my skills in the fourth innings and win games,” Piedt said.

The 24-year-old’s success is not that surprising considering how quickly he whips the ball through, while still obtaining turn and bounce, and how economical he generally is, conceding just 2.50 runs per over in the Sunfoil Series last season. He was also the leading wicket-taker in the competition and there’s no doubt he has a strong claim to a Test spot as back-up to leg-spinner Imran Tahir.

The SACS product said he was sorry to see England off-spinner Graeme Swann, one of his role-models, retire from the game this year.

“I loved watching Graeme Swann, but unfortunately he’s retired so we won’t be seeing him again.”

Piedt has also incorporated aspects of Pakistani Saqlain Mushtaq, Australian Tim May and even local hero Adams into his game.

“It’s mostly all the orthodox off-spinners, but Saqlain had the ability to spin the ball the other way, which was exciting, and obviously Paul, coming from Cape Town, was a hero. It was always a big thing when he played for South Africa for us in the coloured community,” Piedt said.

It seems that Cape Town might have produced another spinner to take the international stage by storm. There’s no doubt Piedt is an exciting prospect and an opportunity to shine in Sri Lanka is one he’s going to grab with both hands.

 

 



↑ Top