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Ken Borland



Lions battling against victims of own success sporting law 0

Posted on June 07, 2017 by Ken

 

It is almost a law of sport that teams can become victims of their own success in terms of competitors trying to lure a franchise’s star performers away, and the Highveld Lions are currently going through an unsettled period marked by the departures of key internationals Temba Bavuma and Eddie Leie, as well as their general manager, Heinrich Strydom.

But it could have been a lot worse because CEO Greg Fredericks reportedly tendered his resignation as well, but the board did not accept it and managed to convince the popular former MP to continue in his role, thus avoiding another major blow to a union that also lost several experienced players to matchfixing bans at the start of last season.

Fredericks did not want to comment on his alleged resignation, but told The Citizen, “I had an offer which I turned down. My job here is not done.”

Strydom, who was also the CEO of North-West Cricket, has been appointed as the new chief executive of the Dolphins franchise and the Lions have been forced into a time of change, which they are trying to manage as best they can.

There has also been speculation that Cricket South Africa want to groom Lions coach Geoff Toyana for greater things by appointing him as one of the Proteas’ assistant coaches, which would be another blow to the franchise.

“Geoff has just renewed his contract with us for another three years. But if anything happens, we obviously do have succession plans and one or two individuals in mind. We are also advertising for a batting coach at the moment,” Fredericks said.

“The board has expressed concern, however, over the performances of the Highveld Lions and the Gauteng Strikers over the last season, and a committee led by David Terbrugge will investigate and come up with proposals. But the team lost Alviro Petersen and Neil McKenzie, and that experience you can’t replace overnight. People might not also know the important roles of players like Kagiso Rabada, Thami Tsolekile, Pumi Matshikwe and Lonwabo Tsotsobe.

“Heinrich was also a huge asset for us, but we are very happy for him. He’s a very hard-working person and we will miss him. But if our pipeline is strong, then we should be able to replicate our previous successes, it’s about ensuring our character and culture stay strong,” Fredericks said.

https://www.pressreader.com/south-africa/the-citizen-gauteng/20170525/282119226487652

Meyer in the mood for a big victory 0

Posted on December 15, 2015 by Ken

 

Although the Springboks trounced Italy convincingly, Scotland has traditionally not been an easy opponent to destroy. Heyneke Meyer’s reluctance to add to the 852 players in the index of South Africa’s capped internationals for Saturday’s Test against a depleted Scottish side has many people baffled, but the Springbok coach perhaps let slip his motivation with a throwaway line during the team announcement.

“Our past results against Scotland are nothing to be proud of,” he said in midweek.

He obviously meant results in the recent past because Meyer would have grown up hearing stories of how the Springboks set the world record score against Scotland in Edinburgh in 1951 when they walloped them 44-0. Tries were only worth three points back then, so South Africa’s tally of nine, plus seven conversions from Okey Geffin and a drop goal from Hannes Brewis would have been equivalent to a 62-0 drubbing in today’s terms.

But since 2002, the Springboks have struggled to really put the Scots away. They lost 21-6 that year in Edinburgh and again 21-17 in 2010, but even their victories, with a couple of exceptions, have not been by much – 29-25 (Durban, 2003); 28-19 (Johannesburg, 2003); 45-10 (Edinburgh 2004); 36-16 (Durban, 2006); 29-15 (Port Elizabeth, 2006); 27-3 (Edinburgh, 2007); 14-10 (Edinburgh, 2008) and 21-10 (Edinburgh 2012).

So Meyer is clearly hoping for something more along the lines of 62-0 as he calls into service the bulk of the team that put Italy away in impressive fashion last weekend.

With South Africa set to play Scotland in a potential pool decider in their own conditions in the 2015 Rugby World Cup, Meyer will also be keen on scoring some psychological points through a big victory.

With another week of training together hopefully providing even more continuity, and those first Test nerves a thing of the past for a handful of players, Meyer is confident that the Springboks will build on their King’s Park performance when they play the first Test to be hosted by the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit.

And the home side certainly has numerous weapons with which to really hurt the Scots.

Bryan Habana won the Man of the Match award for his dazzling display of pacy counter-attacking and new Scotland flyhalf Ruaridh Jackson and debutant fullback Peter Murchie are warned that aimless kicking will be punished.

Saturday also provides another opportunity for Willie le Roux and JJ Engelbrecht to shine, while if left wing Bjorn Basson continues to look for work, he could well add to his maiden Test try last weekend.

Scotland suffered a terrible injury toll after their loss to the physical Samoans. Coach Scott Johnson said he was “hard-pressed to remember so many injuries from the one Test match” – and unfortunately for them they can expect more of the same from the Springboks.

The loose trio of Pierre Spies, Arno Botha and Marcell Coetzee are renowned for their physicality, as is lock Eben Etzebeth, while Meyer can turn to the likes of Coenie Oosthuizen, Flip van der Merwe and, of course, Bismarck du Plessis, for even more punching power off the bench.

The ferocious Du Plessis is likely to only be on the field for a short period, but Scotland could well learn the meaning of vasbyt in that time.

“I’ve never been out this long before, I’ve missed six Sharks games in eight years before the knee operation, so frustration doesn’t even come close to describing the feeling. Even if you miss one game, you can never get it back again and even if I just get one minute on Saturday, I’m going to try and fit 80 minutes of rugby into it,” Du Plessis vowed this week.

Siya Kolisi, who at 1.86m is shorter than the loose forwards Meyer usually favours, is another who should get a stint off the bench and the debutant will want to make his presence count at the breakdowns.

Meyer has identified the breakdowns as one of the key areas he is looking to improve in the second year of his term and, with Francois Louw the first-choice open-side flank, Kolisi will want to make the most of his chance while the Bath man is away getting married this weekend.

The scrums are another area where the Springboks can improve, but in the unlikely event of Jannie du Plessis and Tendai Mtawarira struggling, Meyer does have the insurance of in-form Cheetahs props Oosthuizen and Trevor Nyakane on the bench.

Scotland will have an experienced tighthead in British Lions tourist Euan Murray to test the Springbok scrum, but the visitors will be hard-pressed to match the lineout skills of the hosts.

The fact that an already depleted Scotland team have now been battered and bruised to such an extent that coach Johnson had to make seven more changes, does not inspire much confidence that they can upset a Springbok team that has their coach calling for blood.

“We still have to put in the hard work against Scotland. It’s like SuperRugby, any team can beat you on their day. We played some great rugby last weekend, but we’re still far from our best. We still need to improve and for us it’s about putting in 100%, 100% of the time,” Meyer said.

For the Springboks to slacken now would totally expose their coach’s about-turn on using this quadrangular series to try a bunch of players.

With a Nelspruit crowd eager to see the Springboks in action for the first time in their city, we can surely expect the Springboks to improve further on their start to the season in Durban by putting Scotland to the sword.

Teams

South Africa – Willie le Roux; Bryan Habana, JJ Engelbrecht, Jean de Villiers, Bjorn Basson; Morne Steyn, Ruan Pienaar; Pierre Spies, Arno Botha, Marcell Coetzee; Juandre Kruger, Eben Etzebeth; Jannie du Plessis, Adriaan Strauss, Tendai Mtawarira. Replacements: Bismarck du Plessis, Trevor Nyakane, Coenie Oosthuizen, Flip van der Merwe, Siya Kolisi, Piet van Zyl, Pat Lambie, Jan Serfontein.

Scotland – Peter Murchie; Tommy Seymour, Alex Dunbar, Matt Scott, Sean Lamont; Ruaridh Jackson, Greig Laidlaw; Johnnie Beattie, Ryan Wilson, Alasdair Strokosch; Jim Hamilton, Tim Swinson; Euan Murray, Scott Lawson, Alasdair Dickinson. Replacements: Steven Lawrie, Jon Welsh, Moray Low, Alastair Kellock, David Denton, Henry Pyrgos, Peter Horne, Duncan Taylor.

http://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2013-06-14-springboks-vs-scotland-meyer-hoping-for-repeat-performance/#.VnAFHEp97IU

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.

 

   

Barnes preparing SA A for mental assassination 0

Posted on July 10, 2014 by Ken

While the Proteas are in Sri Lanka, South Africa’s next tier of internationals – the SA A side – will be heading off to Australia soon and coach Vincent Barnes says one of his most important tasks will be to mentally prepare the up-and-coming players for a country in which character assassination seems as much of a goal as taking wickets or scoring runs.

The SA A squad play their first match in a triangular series with the Australian and Indian A sides on July 20 and are busy preparing for a tough tour at the CSA Centre of Excellence in Pretoria. Barnes will be able to take fully-fledged internationals such as captain Justin Ontong, Marchant de Lange, Beuran Hendricks, Rory Kleinveldt, Heino Kuhn, Farhaan Behardien, Aaron Phangiso and Vaughn van Jaarsveld in his party, but there are numerous younger players, several of whom have never been to Australia before.

“The tour is designed to give our fringe players top-quality opposition and it’s a fantastic opportunity to play in Australia even though it’s winter. There are four recent Proteas [Hendricks, Phangiso, Kleinveldt & Behardien], but it’s a nice blend with a lot of senior players and quite a few young debutants.

“I’m doing a lot of mental work with them because I want us to go across there with presence, our body language is important. The biggest challenge in Australia is mentally and quite a few of the guys are on their first tour there. They’re going to have to deal with those mental pressures and learn how to overcome them,” Barnes told The Pretoria News on Wednesday.

Warriors opening batsman David White and Highveld Lions pace bowler Kagiso Rabada are two of the rookies in the squad, but they are both excited by the learning opportunities they will have in Australia.

“It’s a great honour to be chosen for the A side, I feel very privileged and I’m very excited. I want to learn as much as I can so I can build on my game for the Warriors, after I put in some nice performances for them in four-day cricket last season. Obviously the goal is to play Test cricket for the Proteas, but I don’t want to get ahead of myself.

“I have huge respect for the guys I’m playing with, there are some great cricketers and I’m going to learn as much as possible from them. Especially Justin Ontong, because he’s been around the block and has a lot of information to share,” White said.

Rabada was shining for the SA U19 Junior World Cup-winning side at the start of the year and his selection in both the four-day and limited-overs squads completes a whirlwind six months for the St Stithians product.

“Everything has happened so quickly, I went straight into the franchise team from the U19s and now I’m playing for SA A. I hope to learn from it and become a better cricketer. If I just play my best then the other things will take care of themselves, but my main goal is to play for the Proteas and long-term to be one of the best fast bowlers in the world,” Rabada said.

Five members of last season’s SA A squad – Kyle Abbott, Stiaan van Zyl, Dean Elgar, Hendricks and Phangiso will be involved in the Proteas’ tour of Sri Lanka and Barnes is excited by the possibilities that lie ahead for this year’s intake.

“Having so many young players has been refreshing and they’ve brought a lot of freshness and energy to the squad,” Barnes said.

And let’s not forget that next year’s World Cup will be held in Australia and history suggests a player or two from this A squad could well be involved with the full national team by then. While the wintry conditions in the sub-tropical far north will be different to those experienced at the height of the 2014/15 summer, it will do them the world of good to acclimatise to the abrasive Australian way of playing the game and all the other off-field quirks over there.

SA A squads

Four-day squad: Justin Ontong, Temba Bavuma, Marchant de Lange, Simon Harmer, Beuran Hendricks, Reeza Hendricks, Rory Kleinveldt, Heino Kuhn, Eddie Leie, Mangaliso Mosehle, Kagiso Rabada, Rilee Rossouw, Hardus Viljoen, David White, Khaya Zondo.

Limited-overs squad: Justin Ontong, Farhaan Behardien, Cody Chetty, Marchant de Lange, Simon Harmer, Beuran Hendricks, Reeza Hendricks, Rory Kleinveldt, Heino Kuhn, Mangaliso Mosehle, Aaron Phangiso, Kagiso Rabada, Rilee Rossouw, Mthokozisi Shezi, Vaughn van Jaarsveld.

Itinerary: July 20 v Australia National Performance Squad (Northline); July 22 v India A (Gardens Oval); July 24 v Australia A (Northline); July 26 v India A (Gardens Oval); July 29 v Australia A (Marrara); July 31 v Australia National Performance Squad (Gardens Oval); August 2 1v2, 3v4 (Northern Territory); August 7-10 v Australia A (Tony Ireland Stadium); August 14-17 v Australia A (Tony Ireland Stadium).

 



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