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Ken Borland



Sadness as two players leave the Springbok family 0

Posted on January 19, 2018 by Ken

 

Coach Heyneke Meyer likes to talk about the Springbok team as being a family, and there was sadness in camp on Monday when two players left the squad ahead of the Rugby Championship finale against the All Blacks at Soccer City on Saturday.

While Jacques Potgieter, who has an abdominal strain, was a fringe player, Francois Steyn is a key figure in the team, having played 53 Tests despite being just 25 years old, and a senior player.

But his departure from the squad to have ankle surgery is undoubtedly in the long-term interests of both the team and the player.

“Frans has quite a few loose pieces of bone in his ankle and every now and then one of them gets lodged in the joint, causing him excruciating pain. As a long-term solution, we’re sending him for surgery to have it cleaned out on Wednesday. Unfortunately that means he will be out for three months and he will miss the end-of-year tour,” team doctor Craig Roberts said.

Steyn might be missing out now, but the positive side is that he will be able to have a proper rest and pre-season conditioning before starting next year’s SuperRugby competition with the Sharks, hopefully in prime physical and mental state.

Sometimes an enforced break like this one can end up adding years to a player’s career and, as Roberts pointed out, the Springboks are looking for another 60 Tests from the utility back and he will be a vital figure in the 2015 World Cup in England.

A third player could well leave the squad on Tuesday, with prop Coenie Oosthuizen going to see a specialist in Durban about his neck injury. Meyer rushed the versatile Oosthuizen back into the team, naming him on the bench for the Test against Australia despite the 23-year-old having played just 35 minutes for the Free State Cheetahs since injuring his neck during his Springbok debut against England in June.

Sometimes players are rushed back into action too soon and it is a credit to Roberts that he managed to convince Meyer to pull Oosthuizen from last weekend’s game; the team doctor clearly has doubts that the prop has fully recovered.

“Again, we want to ensure we make the right long-term decision and I’m not happy with his neck; he still has some quite significant symptoms, especially stiffness,” Roberts said.

Both the Springboks and All Blacks are coming off impressive weekend victories, setting up another titanic clash between the two great rivals at the iconic stadium in Soweto. New Zealand may have already clinched the inaugural Rugby Championship title, but there is no doubt they will be up for the game against the old enemy.

Apart from notching another victory on South African soil, they would also love to complete the year unbeaten and stretch their winning run to 16 matches dating back to the start of their triumphant World Cup campaign.

“We’ve won the Rugby Championship, but we’ve parked that and we’re now focused on winning in South Africa. If you talk to the older guys, they’ll tell you it’s more rewarding winning here than beating the Springboks at home. The guys that have been around a while really love testing themselves against the best here; it’s one of the toughest places to win,” loose forward Sam Cane said on Monday.

Lock Sam Whitelock also stressed the importance of Saturday’s game.

“It’s really nice that we’ve put the trophy away, but this weekend will be a massive challenge. It would be great to start off a new competition with a clean sweep.

“Last year didn’t go so well for us in Port Elizabeth and South Africa is always hard to beat at home. But that’s the beauty of international rugby; you have to perform week in and week out. All you need is one game to not go well and everything can unravel very quickly,” Whitelock said.

The great rivalry between the two sides will be exemplified in the tremendous physicality of Saturday’s Test, with the Dunedin match two weekends ago being widely proclaimed as a coming-of-age performance by the youthful Springbok pack.

“The Dunedin game was a typical All Blacks/Springboks Test, with massive body collisions. It was quite tight and it took a while for either side to win any dominance. I’m sure it will be the case again this week and the body will take a bit of a hammering,” Whitelock said.

The Springboks are obviously not going to make the same mistake that Argentina did in trying to match the expansive, fast-paced game of the All Blacks.

“Playing at home, there’s always more pressure to run the ball, but that’s what New Zealand likes because it gives them turnovers and they punish you. You will never beat New Zealand at their own game, you’ll never out-run them. You have to put pressure on them, especially at the breakdown, in defence and with your kicking game,” Meyer said.

The Springboks are well positioned to do this if they can produce a repeat performance of their Loftus Versfeld heroics against the Wallabies.

For all the elation of the five tries scored, it was a top-class defensive effort in the trenches that set up a morale-boosting win.

“It was a good performance, definitely the most satisfying of the year, and our defence was also the best it’s been the whole year. We made 178 tackles compared to their 109, and we had a 96% completion rate, we only missed seven tackles. Plus we only had 45% possession,” Meyer said.

A win over the in-form world champions would ensure Meyer gets a positive review after his first year in charge.

https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2012-10-02-rugby-tough-calls-for-the-springboks/#.WmHcfK6WbIU

 

Africa Open overseas player profiles 0

Posted on September 21, 2015 by Ken

 

ANDY SULLIVAN

 

The former Walker Cup representative first sprang to prominence in 2014 with five top-10 finishes to end 33rd in the Race to Dubai. His successful year included a hole-in-one at the KLM Open, which won him a trip to space.

2015 has been a glorious year for him, beating home favourite Charl Schwartzel in a playoff, thanks to a superb approach shot from the Glendower rough, to win the SA Open, and then triumphing in the Joburg Open at Royal Johannesburg & Kensington on a tense final day.

 

BORN – 19 May 1986

COUNTRY – England

TURNED PRO – 2011

RACE TO DUBAI RANKING – 7th

2015 RESULTS – 2 wins in Johannesburg at the SA Open & Joburg Open; T4 at Dubai Desert Classic

CAREER WINS –  2015 SA Open; 2015 Joburg Open

 

 

ALEX NOREN

 

His career has been hampered by injuries and he is currently on a medical extension having missed all but two events of the 2014 season due to tendonitis in both wrists. He won twice in 2011 and had seven top-10s in 2012.

He has a degree in Business Marketing from Oklahoma State University.

 

BORN – 12 July 1982

COUNTRY – Sweden

TURNED PRO – 2005

RACE TO DUBAI RANKING – 10th

2015 RESULTS – 2nd at Dubai Desert Classic, 9th at Qatar Masters & T11 at Thailand Classic

CAREER WINS – 2009 European Masters; 2011 Wales Open; 2011 Nordea Masters

 

 

ANDREW DODT

 

The winner of the inaugural Thailand Classic and the 2010 Avantha Masters in New Delhi, he is obviously comfortable in Asia having played there throughout 2014.

A native of Brisbane in north-eastern Australia, he started playing golf when he was four, at the local Gatton Golf Club.

 

BORN – 26 January 1986

COUNTRY – Australia

TURNED PRO – 2007

RACE TO DUBAI RANKING – 14th

2015 RESULTS – 1st at Thailand Classic; T36 at Malaysian Open

CAREER WINS – 2010 Avantha Masters; 2015 Thailand Classic

 

 

GREGORY BOURDY

 

Coming from a golf-loving family, he started played the game when he was four.

His Hong Kong Open triumph came when held off a charging Rory McIlroy and he also won the Wales Open with a hat-trick of birdies.

A keen visitor to South Africa.

 

BORN – 25 April 1982

COUNTRY – France

TURNED PRO – 2003

RACE TO DUBAI RANKING – 22nd

2015 RESULTS – T5 at Qatar Masters & Malaysian Open; T13 at Dubai Desert Classic

CAREER WINS – 2007 Mallorca Classic; 2008 Portugal Open; 2009 Hong Kong Open; 2013 Wales Open

 

 

THOMAS PIETERS

 

There are lofty expectations for the lanky Belgian after he won the NCAA Golf Championship while at college in the United States.

Lost to Miguel Angel Jimenez in a playoff at the Spanish Open in his rookie season last year, finishing 83rd in the Race to Dubai. Since then his ranking has risen into the top 25 on the order of merit.

Took up golf along with his whole family when they played when on holiday in South Africa in 1997.

 

BORN – 27 January 1992

COUNTRY – Belgium

TURNED PRO – 2013

RACE TO DUBAI RANKING – 24th

2015 RESULTS – T4 at Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship; T8 at Alfred Dunhill Championship; T16 Malaysian Open

CAREER WINS – 0

 

 

BYEONG-HUN AN

 

The son of two Olympic table tennis medalists, Jiao Zhimin and Ahn Jae-Hyung (she represented China and his father South Korea), An has been based in the United States for more than six years.

The youngest winner of the U.S. Amateur Championship when he triumphed in 2009, he followed another winner into Europe in Peter Uihlein.

 

BORN – 17 September 1991

COUNTRY – South Korea

TURNED PRO – 2011

RACE TO DUBAI RANKING – 27th

2015 RESULTS – T5 at Qatar Masters; T7 at Joburg Open; T12 at Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship; T13 at Dubai Desert Classic

CAREER WINS – 0

 

 

MORTEN ORUM MADSEN

 

Told the media after his memorable SA Open triumph at Glendower that his maiden win had given him more hunger but also greater calmness and no fear on the golf course.

Had seven top-20 finishes in his rookie season on tour, including a T4 finish at the Nelson Mandela Championship.

He comes from the same club, Silkeborg GK, as Thomas Bjorn, who he considers a role-model. Wanted to be a footballer, but his father finally managed to win him over to golf when he was 12.

 

BORN – 9 April 1988

COUNTRY – Denmark

TURNED PRO – 2011

RACE TO DUBAI RANKING – 29th

2015 RESULTS – T4 at Dubai Desert Classic; T12 at Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship; T16 at Alfred Dunhill Championship

CAREER WINS – 2014 South African Open

 

 

ANDREW JOHNSTON

 

Finished on top of the Challenge Tour rankings in 2014 and began this season on a high with a third-placed finish at Leopard Creek.

Known as “Beef”, he is a powerful driver of the ball.

 

BORN – 18 February 1989

COUNTRY – England

TURNED PRO – 2009

RACE TO DUBAI RANKING – 33rd

2015 RESULTS – 3rd at Alfred Dunhill Championship; T35 at Dubai Desert Classic

CAREER WINS – 0

 



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