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Ken Borland

Titans hard at work in midwinter to find a new coach 0

Posted on July 25, 2016 by Ken


It may be midwinter but the Titans are hard at work for the cricket season ahead, announcing Multiply, Momentum’s lifestyle and wellness program, as their new team sponsor for 50-over and four-day cricket on Tuesday, but their major focus is on finding a new coach to replace Rob Walter.

Walter is heading to New Zealand to coach Otago from September 1 and, although the Titans were in negotiations with a former South African international based in England, they were frozen out due to the problems with trying to match a pounds salary with rands.

“We’ll be advertising the post from today, so the process starts. We did look at a few candidates initially, we made approaches, but it’s not always possible to get the people you want. It’s difficult to attract guys because of the currency weakness and not all the guys are available. But we hope to complete the search in two or three weeks,” Titans chief executive Jacques Faul said on Tuesday.

“Looking at the squad we have, we need someone who can keep winning trophies. We need to fit the coach with the squad because the players have just come off a helluva season. Obviously the coach must bring something new to the table, but he must be able to work with the squad we’ve got. Rob did so well, winning trophies, but there’s also the bigger picture of producing Proteas, and that’s what the new coach needs to duplicate.”

Although Walter has joined HD Ackerman and Pierre de Bruyn as high-profile coaches leaving South Africa this year, Faul said he believes there is still more than enough talent available when it comes to coaching.

“I’m very positive. There are a lot of young coaches coming through, a guy like Malibongwe Maketa energised the Warriors and they are playing an exciting brand of cricket, and I think we have good systems, I think there is a lot of talent around the country. If one or two guys leave, it doesn’t mean that the system is in trouble.

“A guy like Geoff Toyana is a very good coach, but he had to get the opportunity first and somebody had to leave. We’re part of a global village that attracts good coaches, and I think we’ll get a lot of overseas applications. We’re not hitting any panic buttons,” Faul said.

Sea of bad news for Dolphins but Morgan positive 0

Posted on June 15, 2016 by Ken


New coach Grant Morgan has just completed his first week at the Dolphins amidst a sea of bad news for the KwaZulu-Natal franchise, but as a dogged former cricketer he says the challenges will be turned into positives.

The Dolphins have lost marquee stars in David Miller and Kyle Abbott, international all-rounder Ryan McLaren and up-and-coming players like Mathew Pillans, Jonathan Vandiar, Daniel Sincuba, Craig Kirsten and Aya Myoli, while their CEO, Pete de Wet, confirmed this week that he will be leaving his post at the end of July to become the chief executive of Central Districts in New Zealand.

“They can knock down Kingsmead stadium and move us all to Chatsworth and I won’t mind. I expect more challenges in the role and we will turn them into positives. A lot of people will look at us and say we’re in trouble, maybe underestimate us, and we can trade on that. There are some gems in KZN cricket that people don’t even know about,” Morgan told Saturday Citizen on Friday.

While the 44-year-old is not the high-profile, internationally-experienced coach some Dolphins fans were hoping for – it’s not as if the franchise has billions of rand to attract that sort of figure – Morgan fits the bill as a well-travelled and successful coach.

“The first challenge I had to get over was people always saying I haven’t coached at that level. But I’ve been involved with 19 different teams and encountered a lot of cultures and circumstances, at four different unions, some universities, IPL teams and overseas clubs.

“And there are a couple of lurkers in this Dolphins squad that most people in South Africa don’t know about, guys I really feel can make a jump up, they can jump out of the pack. Some are already good enough for the next level, I just need to build their self-belief. I tell them all that when they come back to Kingsmead for a 10-year reunion, I want them to say these were the greatest days of their lives,” Morgan said.

The winner of four domestic trophies with the KZN Inland side wants his players to be lion-hearted and brave in their cricket.

“We want to play positive and attractive cricket, although you always want the bragging rights of being able to win. But we need an aggressive brand that will turn people back to Kingsmead, we need to show that we are enjoying what we do. I’ll encourage them to take the risk, but be humble players.

“I also don’t want to isolate the amateur guys, I’ll be working with the semi-professional team coaches Shane Burger and Roger Telemachus. Those players must see that I am there for them too, I want to draw the net wider and develop them too, make them believe that they can step up as well,” Morgan said.


Evaluating Coetzee’s first Springbok squad 0

Posted on June 06, 2016 by Ken


Speculating on Springbok squads is always one of the more enjoyable aspects of being a rugby writer and I was pleased to read Allister Coetzee said choosing it had been one of the highlights of his career. One of a scribe’s other jobs is to then evaluate the selection, and I’m pleased to say the new coach’s squad makes me largely very happy.

It would be remiss of me, however, not to point out what I believe are a couple of oversights in Coetzee’s first task in his new project.

I will explain the first by asking you, dear reader, to imagine you have been transported forward in time by a week and you are perusing this column on the morning of the opening Test against Ireland. And the shock news has just broken that Pat Lambie injured himself in yesterday’s captain’s run.

This will be a major problem for Coetzee and the Springboks because of the flyhalves he has chosen in his squad. Elton Jantjies has only just resumed training after having surgery on a fractured finger, so he has not had much time to heal or acquaint himself with what the new coach is hoping to do on the field. Garth April is a bright talent, no doubt, but has only made three starts in top-flight rugby and it would be a massive gamble for him to play in a Test match.

So who is going to be the general as South Africa enter a new era against a tough Irish side?

We can look at the other side of the halfback equation, the scrumhalves, but the picture is just as bleak there, with Faf de Klerk and Rudy Paige no doubt players of the future, but vastly inexperienced at the moment when it comes to Test rugby. I have some sympathy for Coetzee when it comes to the dearth of scrumhalves though because he did apparently approach Ruan Pienaar, who turned him down, possibly because of all the abuse he takes from fickle Springbok fans.

Nic Groom also does not inspire much confidence. Against the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld recently, the Stormers enjoyed a surfeit of possession, but he was unable to stamp his mark or take control of proceedings against a team that was hammered by the Lions the following week.

With Lambie out, the Springboks could be forced into playing Willie le Roux, who has had no serious rugby with a number 10 on his back, in the pivot position. All this could have been avoided by just naming Morne Steyn as the third flyhalf. It’s too late now because you can’t fly him out from France on the eve of a Test.

The other error, I believe, is in the composition of the loose forwards. They are all fine players with varying skills, but there seems to be, apart from Duane Vermeulen, a lack of a mean and nasty ball-carrier, someone with mongrel who can crash through the advantage line and bounce away anyone trying to get through the Springbok defences.

With Jaco Kriel and Francois Louw surely fighting over the openside flank position, Siya Kolisi is likely to wear the number seven jersey and is a super player, with a tremendous work-rate and great skills, but for me he is more of a hybrid loose forward, good at plenty of things and master of none. As a ball-carrier, he is only ranked 58th in Super Rugby this year, according to the Vodacom stats.

And Coetzee could open himself up to accusations of Stormers bias with his selection of Sikhumbuzo Notshe, another hybrid flank, as well as the likes of Steven Kitshoff, Groom and Scarra Ntubeni, ahead of players like Jean-Luc du Preez and Malcolm Marx.

But overall, it is a pleasing squad with the experience of players like Beast Mtawarira, Eben Etzebeth, JP Pietersen, Vermeulen, Lambie, Le Roux and Louw being combined with some of the exciting talent sweeping through our rugby, and a fine choice of captain in Adriaan Strauss.

And there is the thrilling prospect, looking at some of the selections, of the Springboks playing a more high-tempo, ball-in-hand style of rugby.

Hourcade decisive in giving Pumas a new look 0

Posted on August 14, 2014 by Ken

If anyone ever wanted proof that a new broom sweeps clean in rugby, they need look no further than new Argentina coach Daniel Hourcade’s radically changed team for the opening Rugby Championship clash against South Africa at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

Argentina have grown accustomed to fielding different squads depending on the occasion and the sides that played their previous international, against Scotland in Cordoba; their last match of 2013, against Italy in Rome; and their previous Rugby Championship fixture, versus the Wallabies in Rosario; are all very dissimilar.

Only two players that started the 21-19 defeat to Scotland will feature against the Springboks, while there are nine changes and a positional switch to the side that beat Italy 19-14 and only 11 of the 23 that were hammered 54-17 by Australia have survived for the next Rugby Championship engagement.

Players such as the retired midfield star Felipe Contepomi, injured wing Juan Imhoff, hooker Eusebio Guinazu and experienced locks Patricio Albacete and Manuel Carizza are all conspicuous by their absence, but Hourcade struck a defiant tone when announcing the team on Thursday.

“It is a young team without much experience, but they are quality players with a lot of capacity. We believe that we have very good players in this side and we want to give them experience and support them,” Hourcade said.

The new Pumas coach acknowledges that his team are the underdogs against the Springboks, who thrashed them 73-13 a year ago in Soweto, but he believes they can help grow his side.

“South Africa are a great team, with a very good coach and a very strong mentality. They are at the point of ascending.

“But this is an excellent chance for us to build as a team. We’re prepared for what South Africa will bring.

“Last year’s match here we will take as part of our experience, it was down to attitude and it was an important lesson. It was part of the process, we will learn off those results and continue that process,” the 56-year-old said.

One area where Argentina do traditionally boast plenty of firepower is in the scrum and the presence of Leicester Tigers veteran Marcos Ayerza in the number one jersey will certainly pique the interest of Springbok tightheads Jannie du Plessis and Frans Malherbe.

“Argentina are always a big test, but I’m looking forward to it. I haven’t played them before and I haven’t scrummed against them.

“It’s a massive opportunity for me to secure my spot as the back-up tighthead and it’s all up to me to take it, that’s the bottom line. It comes down to my primary role, if I don’t do that well then I won’t be selected, but the goal is to become a more modern forward, with more mobility and ball skills,” Malherbe said.

While Argentina have been understandably conservative in their first two years of Rugby Championship participation, Hourcade says they need to do more with the ball if they are to beat one of the big three.

“When we consider the teams we are playing against, then we have to take risks. If we just play slowly then all we are doing is trying to stop the inevitable ending, we know we will lose.

“We need to move the ball more and play quicker, it does have risks but we assume that risk. We will make some mistakes, but that’s part of the game and the only way to grow this team,” Hourcade said.

Centres Juan-Martin Hernandez and Marcelo Bosch are certainly looking forward to getting their hands on the ball more often.

“For me personally, I prefer to have the ball in my hands rather than having to tackle. I’m happier with the current approach, but we know we are playing against the three best teams in the world and it will be tough.

“There’s a lot of responsibility on us to manage the ball, but first of all we have to obtain the ball. There are steps you have to go through before you can play that style,” outside centre Bosch said.

As positive as the Pumas might want to be, the numbers that matter will be amongst the forwards, in terms of securing first-phase possession, dominating the gain-line and winning turnovers.

A number that may be decisive is  140 – the difference between the 411 Test caps the Springbok pack and five replacements have, compared to the 271 of their counterparts.

Argentina team (caps in brackets): 15-Joaquin Tuculet (11), 14-Horacio Agulla (51), 13-Marcelo Bosch (25), 12-Juan-Martin Hernandez (44), 11-Manuel Montero (13), 10-Nicolas Sanchez (21), 9-Martin Landajo (31), 8-Juan-Manuel Leguizamon (55), 7-Juan-Martin Fernandez Lobbe (56), 6-Pablo Matera (11), 5-Tomas Lavanini (9), 4-Mariano Galarza (18), 3-Ramiro Herrera (2), 2-Agustin Creevy (28), 1-Marcos Ayerza (48). Substitutes – 16-Matias Cortese (7), 17-Lucas Noguera Paz (5), 18-Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro (7), 19-Matias Alemanno (5), 20-Leonardo Senatore (20), 21-Tomas Cubelli (25), 22-Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias (7), 23-Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino (33).

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