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Ken Borland

Ludeke on his way out of Loftus 0

Posted on December 22, 2016 by Ken

It is not yet clear whether Frans Ludeke will be catching the next train out of Loftus Versfeld for a permanent exit, but the Bulls coach has stood down from his SuperRugby and Currie Cup duties with immediate effect after eight years in charge.

Nollis Marais, the Blue Bulls Vodacom Cup and U21 coach, will pick up the pieces of the failed SuperRugby campaign and guide the team through this year’s Currie Cup, franchise CEO Barend van Graan announced on Saturday night after the first defeat to the Cheetahs at Loftus Versfeld in the history of the Sanzar competition.

The 43-year-old Marais has steadily risen up the ranks at Loftus Versfeld, coaching the U21s since 2011 and the Vodacom Cup team since 2013, while also winning the Varsity Cup with Tuks in 2012 and 2013.

Who will coach the Bulls in next year’s SuperRugby competition is still up in the air, however, with Van Graan describing the decision as “an ongoing process”.

Ludeke still has a shade more than a year left on his contract with the Bulls and there is speculation that the two-time Super Rugby winner will move upstairs to take up a director of rugby post.

“It is a big privilege for me, a tough competition lies ahead and I look forward to taking that on. I heard today about my appointment, I’ve been busy preparing for the U21 leagues, so it’s been a very quick five hours in a man’s life.

“As far as my coaching philosophy goes, for me, if you are being paid R1 to play, then you must really play, for the jersey before anything else, but also for the union and the people who come to watch. I will try very hard to bring that attitude to the team,” Marais said on Saturday night.

The Bulls’ reluctance to come out and reveal their long-term plans is mostly because there are still too many variables that haven’t been decided yet. There has been speculation that if Heyneke Meyer does not get an extension to his Springbok contract then the Bulls would be willing to shell out on him as a director of rugby.

His Springbok support team – Johann van Graan, John McFarland and Ricardo Loubscher – could then join him at Loftus Versfeld.

No conversation about the Bulls’ future coaching structure is complete without Victor Matfield joining the debate. The Springbok lock is already part of the coaching set-up and has indicated his desire to succeed Ludeke.

Bavuma details his feelings of that all-significant century 0

Posted on July 08, 2016 by Ken


Temba Bavuma has not yet watched the highlights of his historic century against England at Newlands at the start of the year, but he has had the time now to mentally process the significance of it all and this week spoke for the first time about the details of how he felt during the innings.

It was fitting that Bavuma revealed his thoughts at the KFC Mini-Cricket National Seminar at Kruger Park because that was the program that introduced him to the game back in the late 1990s.

“All the attention afterwards was quite overwhelming, when I went in to bat it was just another innings for me. But afterwards I began to understand the whole impact and significance of the knock a bit better and that it was actually quite a big thing. But I haven’t even watched the highlights because I just wanted to try and move on as quickly as I could. It’s very easy to get caught up in the whole emotion of it, when you just want to refresh, clear your mind and focus on the next one.

“But I’ve come to realise that I am a role-model for the masses, for the majority in this country. Prior to the milestone at Newlands, it was just another day of cricket for me, even though the batting unit as a whole was under pressure and at times it felt like my whole career was on the line.

“On the first day-and-a-half England smashed us around, then Hashim, AB and Faf all had good partnerships. I tried to be as calm as I could when I came in, just watch the ball, ball-by-ball. As the innings unfolded it got a bit easier and there was a moment early on between me and the England bowlers which spurred me on. I rolled with the energy it gave me and next thing I had 70.

“I began to look at the scoreboard a bit more and I started to get more nervous, my mind was racing and I just tried to slow things down. My celebration after reaching the hundred was just the culmination of all those emotions, relief and joy at seeing my parents’ delight. And for it to happen at Newlands, where I first learnt about cricket, where the seed was planted, was very special …

“KFC Mini-Cricket introduced me to the game at a young age, it was my first form of official, organised cricket, running around on Newlands. It’s about much more than just taking kids off the street, there’s a whole element of social upliftment, of building the nation, the whole program is excellent.

“And it’s not just about coaching the kids, it’s about nurturing them as well. So many of the coaches are mothers, so they instil discipline, they make sure you’re always neat, with your shirts tucked in, and you listen when you’re spoken to. It’s all hugely beneficial,” Bavuma said.

The 26-year-old Highveld Lions star had a more successful visit to India last year than many of his batting colleagues, impressing with his tenacious and adept approach to sharply-spinning pitches, but this summer will challenge him in different ways as South Africa play Tests against the powerful pace bowling attacks of both Australia and New Zealand.

“One of my biggest challenges to overcome has been my stature because I’m not the biggest guy, but I’m always fighting against that stereotype that I’m too short and you have to be a certain size to succeed. I use it as positive energy to motivate me to prove people wrong, to break through that stereotype. But I don’t consider myself as having a permanent place in the Test team now or having solidified my position, I’m always looking for ways to improve, to become a better person and cricketer, so that I can reach higher levels,” Bavuma said with refreshing candour.


Tactical demands will decide who starts at 10 – Naas 0

Posted on July 14, 2015 by Ken

Handre Pollard was confirmed as the hottest young thing in South African rugby on Sunday night, but the winner of both the Young Player and U20 Player of the Year awards is not yet a definite starter in the number 10 jersey for the Springboks at the World Cup later this year.

Pollard himself accepts this and the most famous of all Springbok flyhalves, Naas Botha, believes the tactical demands of each individual match will decide whether the Bulls star or Pat Lambie start in the pivot position during the World Cup.

“Both Handre and Pat are absolutely fantastic flyhalves but I think it depends on what the Springboks want to achieve tactically when it comes to choosing between them,” Botha told The Citizen.

“Handre is different to most flyhalves because he’s more of a strike runner, when he’s under pressure he backs his physicality. I just think he’s a different attacker than your normal, smaller number 10s, he’s a lot more direct with ball in hand.

“Pat has quicker hands than Handre and can make something out of nothing outside him. Sometimes Handre will just decide to run into the defence, whereas Pat can create space out wide in those situations.

“But they’re both exceptional kickers and fantastic defenders, so I think it depends on where the Springboks want to attack the opposition: more directly or out wide,” Botha explained.

The 20-year-old Pollard says the most important thing for him in the forthcoming SuperRugby season is to develop the consistency that marks out first-choice Springboks.

“It’s a World Cup year so it’s massive for me and the team as well, but my first focus is on SuperRugby, because nobody has been selected for the World Cup yet. It’s a big year especially for the Bulls because we really need to step up this year.

“SuperRugby is going to be the biggest challenge yet for me and what I’ll be focusing on is consistency. Players like Victor Matfield and Jean de Villiers play well week in and week out,” Pollard said.

The suggestion that Lambie (1.78m, 87kg) and Pollard (1.88m, 97kg) could play alongside each other in the Springbok team, especially with inside centre De Villiers’ participation in doubt due to a serious knee injury, does not seem likely to happen given that the World Rugby Junior Player of the Year said that the Bulls will only use him in the number 12 jersey “if push comes to shove”.

*Naas Botha has criticised World Cup organisers for putting the Springboks and defending champion All Blacks in the same side of the draw for the knockout stages of the World Cup.

South Africa are in Pool B and New Zealand in Pool C and, if they both win their pools and their probable quarterfinals against England/Australia and France/Ireland respectively, then they will meet in the semi-finals, despite currently being the two best sides in the world.

“I don’t understand how New Zealand, who are ranked first, and us, who are second, can meet in the semi-finals. It is absolutely wrong. One versus two, if both teams do their job, should be the final.

“We know why it’s happening, but is it right? Nobody wants to see the two best teams playing each other in the semi-final!” Botha said.

The draw for the pools was done a year after the previous World Cup, but the All Blacks and Springboks were also the top two teams in the world at the end of 2012.

Titans in a precarious position but not yet buried – Walter 0

Posted on November 24, 2014 by Ken

Unlimited Titans coach Rob Walter yesterday accurately described his team’s precarious position ahead of their Momentum One-Day Cup match against the Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras at SuperSport Park today as being “backs against the wall” but “not yet dead and buried”.

The Titans are propping up the bottom of the log after losing their opening two matches against the Dolphins and Highveld Lions, and then suffering the embarrassment of getting zero points from their game against the Knights in Benoni because of a sub-standard, dangerous pitch. It means they are yet to get on the scoreboard as far as the log goes, and are already 10 points behind the second and third-placed Dolphins and Highveld Lions.

The Cobras are the runaway leaders of the competition at present, having won all four of their matches.

“We’re obviously in a much worse position because of what happened at Willowmoore Park and our backs are against the wall. We probably require six wins in our last seven games to make the semi-final, but that’s not unfamiliar territory for us. We’ll do whatever we can to fight our way back into it, much like we did last season,” Walter told The Citizen yesterday.

“The players certainly don’t believe they’re dead and buried, you can see their hunger and we know that if we play to the best of our ability, then we can beat anyone.”

It would nevertheless be silly not to consider the Titans as underdogs, even on their home turf, against a Cobras side that is rapidly establishing itself as the most dominant franchise across the board in South African cricket.

Walter said the Titans see the Cobras as the team to beat.

“They’re obviously the form side, a high-quality team, and they’re nine points ahead of everyone else for a reason. To get three bonus-point wins out of four games shows they’re playing seriously good cricket,” he said.

But if the Titans can find that elusive performance where both the batting and bowling click in the same game (and the fielding has to improve as well), then it will be possible for them to beat the Cobras.

The key factor for the home side will be whether they can contain the powerhourse Cobras batting line-up: opener Andrew Puttick is the leading run-scorer in the competition with 339 at an average of 113, with a century and three fifties in his four innings; Stiaan van Zyl and Justin Ontong are both averaging over 50 and Sybrand Engelbrecht and Dane Vilas showed their form in the lower middle-order with their stand of 137 off 14 overs in the previous match against the Knights.

The best way to contain will be to take regular wickets, especially up front, and that makes strike bowler Marchant de Lange the key man.

“In this format, early wickets are crucial because if there’s a set batsman in at the end, then they tend to run away with things. And the Cobras bat all the way down, guys like Robin Peterson and Rory Kleinveldt have only faced 13 balls between them in their four matches, so they bat deep.

“But if we can put it all together, batting and bowling in the same game, and if we can learn to win games if you haven’t necessarily bossed from the start, then we can deliver,” Walter said.




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