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Ken Borland



No dancing around the issue for odd-one-out Morkel 0

Posted on November 09, 2016 by Ken

 

A lesser player or person might have danced around the issue, but Titans T20 captain Albie Morkel was forthright on Tuesday about himself being the odd one out as his team defend their title in the shortest format of the game, starting with their derby clash with double-header hosts the Lions at the Wanderers on Saturday.

Because Morkel is only available for limited-overs cricket for the Titans, he has not been part of the side that has put a poor start in the Sunfoil Series behind them and climbed to the top of the four-day log at the halfway stage. So he is acutely aware that while he will be leading an in-form group of players into battle this weekend, his own form has yet to be tested.

“Having a winning team definitely helps and it doesn’t matter which format it’s been in. In T20, one guy can win a game on the night, but the team with the most in-form players will win the competition. So the four-day games have provided nice momentum, lots of guys have made big contributions.

“So we don’t have to hide anyone, we’re not trying to fill any gaps, all the guys have performed on the field in recent weeks. If you’re out of form in T20 cricket, you get exposed very quickly,” Morkel said on Tuesday at the announcement that Multiply would be the franchise’s team sponsor in the CSA T20 Slam.

“But I’m the one guy who’s had an extended holiday. The challenge has been to stay fit, so I played a bit of club cricket, although that’s not at the same intensity. So this week I’ll make sure I get some good practice in, match-sharpness is the key, and I can also fall back on experience to an extent,” the all-rounder added.

Last season the Titans went on a record-breaking eight-match winning streak to top the log and then win the final they hosted against the Dolphins, but life could be a bit harder for them this time around, certainly in the initial stages of the competition.

“We have almost a completely different team, last season we had Quinton de Kock scoring over 400 runs on his own and Chris Morris and Tabraiz Shamsi making it very hard to chase down our scores. Those guys won games on their own and we’ve also lost someone like Graeme van Buuren, who did very well too, and Mangaliso Mosehle.

“So we need to find our combinations quickly, even though there are a few older guys still around, that’s no guarantee for success. We’re starting from scratch again and we’ll definitely have to bowl smarter. But we’re still a strong team, we’ll look at Aiden Markram up front, he’s a bit of an unknown factor in T20, and our middle and lower-order is very strong with myself, David Wiese, Qaasim Adams and Farhaan Behardien all coming in back-to-back. We can really take on attacks if we get good starts,” Morkel said.

Benkenstein back to SA, but not to Titans … at the moment 0

Posted on July 29, 2016 by Ken

 

Former Dolphins captain and Proteas ODI player Dale Benkenstein is returning to South Africa following his exit from the Hampshire coaching position, leading to speculation that he could be in line to take over from Rob Walter at the Titans, but the franchise confirmed on Wednesday that negotiations with the 42-year-old did not lead to anything concrete.

“We did negotiate with Dale Benkenstein but unfortunately we weren’t able to secure a contract with him,” Titans CEO Jacques Faul told The Citizen on Wednesday.

“Applications close today [Wednesday] for the position, but we reserve the right to head-hunt someone if the applicants are not of a suitable quality,” Faul added.

It would be premature, though, to dismiss Benkenstein as a candidate because the Titans’ initial talks with him happened before his departure from Hampshire was announced last weekend.

Faul said he was not sure whether Benkenstein had applied for the job as the CEO is currently on leave.

Benkenstein could not be reached for comment.

Like Ackermann, Ralepelle is putting those bad days behind him 0

Posted on July 27, 2016 by Ken

 

Sharks hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle’s return to rugby has not been greeted with universal acclaim following his two-year ban for doping, but those who are unwilling to forgive the former Toulouse player should perhaps consider the case of high-riding Lions coach Johan Ackermann.

The former Springbok lock is just about the most popular figure in South African rugby at the moment because of the inspirational job he has done in taking the Lions from the wilderness three years ago and into this weekend’s SuperRugby playoffs, but he too was banned for two years in 1997 for nandrolone use.

Ackermann then made his return to the playing field and even returned to Test rugby in 2001. He made a second comeback in 2006, becoming the oldest player to represent the Springboks at 37 years and 34 days against Australia in July 2007 in Sydney. That record was subsequently broken last year by former Toulon star Victor Matfield, when he captained South Africa to the bronze medal in the World Cup playoff against Argentina aged 38 years and 172 days.

Interestingly, Ackermann and Ralepelle actually appeared in a Test together, back in November 2006 when the Springboks beat England 25-14 at Twickenham. Ackermann started in the number four jersey, while Ralepelle came off the bench to replace captain John Smit.

Those were the days when Ralepelle was a 20-year-old prospect, who was fast-tracked due to political pressure to include more Black African players in the Springbok team, a dozen years after Apartheid had ended. The next week, Ralepelle was named to captain the team against a World XV in Leicester, becoming not only the youngest player to captain the national team but also the first Black. Those of a more cynical disposition were sure coach Jake White, now with Montpellier, was making a statement aimed at the politicians more than anything else.

Ralepelle is not quite 30, so who knows what lies further down the road for him; perhaps he too could make an international comeback. But he is not keen to speak about the past and his indiscretion with drostanolone, an anabolic steroid popular with bodybuilders.

“I’m living a new chapter now, in a new environment. I’m excited and it’s just fantastic to be back playing rugby. I want to seize the opportunity to play the game I love,” Ralepelle told Midi Olympique this week.

Apart from the feeling that he was a political pawn, fast-tracked for reasons of window-dressing, Ralepelle has also had rotten luck with knee injuries.

One game into the 2007 SuperRugby season with the Bulls, he suffered a serious knee injury, which he injured again in the warm-ups for the 2008 campaign. He suffered further knee injuries in 2012 and in 2014 after just 16 matches for Toulouse.

Both the Bulls, based in Pretoria on the South African Highveld, and Toulouse are inland teams and, having served his ban, Ralepelle is now happy down on the coast in Durban, on the Indian Ocean.

“Durban is a lovely city, it has the best weather you could ask for, I can go to the beach any time I like!

“I had wonderful days in Pretoria, it’s where I grew up and first made my mark, and I also had a great time in France. I made great friends there, it’s a good environment and Toulouse is a great team, the home of rugby in France. It was a great opportunity and a great place to play, and I miss the culture and values of that team,” Ralepelle said.

But the Sharks have given Ralepelle a lifeline when perhaps nobody else would, thanks to Smit, who was the CEO when the hooker was signed last November, and director of rugby Gary Gold. It is not the first time the 2007 World Cup winning captain has aided Ralepelle.

Smit contributed some of the school fees to enable Ralepelle to study at Pretoria Boys’ High, which he himself attended.

Ralepelle is determined to be the author of his own success now and has clearly been working hard off the field, given the lean and mean physique he has been sporting during SuperRugby this season.

“It’s been great to get a few games under the belt and I can still improve, which is exciting. Every day I’m striving just to be more on top of my game. It’s a matter of time and it gets easier playing week in, week out. I’m not yet where I should be, but in the mean time I just want to give more and more of a contribution to the team.

“It’s important that I don’t put my body under pressure, so I worked hard before the season just to keep up with the pace of SuperRugby. I worked hard on my conditioning and I am a little lighter, which helps me to move around the park more. I can have an impact that way, it’s not just about strength because if you’re blowing after five or 10 minutes you’re not going to have much strength anyway,” Ralepelle said.

While French rugby still involves plenty of driving play and is extremely physical, SuperRugby is changing, according to Ralepelle, who returned to the Southern Hemisphere competition in April after three years away.

“There’s been a big change, mostly because of the laws. With the speed of the game, players really need to be fitter and stronger. It’s an amazing competition,” Ralepelle said.

How fortunes change in rugby is also amazing and, if Ralepelle, who remains both mobile and good in the loose as well as proficient in the set-pieces, needs any encouragement, he only needs to look at how Johan Ackermann has not only restored his reputation but has grown it exponentially.

New Springbok captain one of the most admired SA leaders 0

Posted on June 06, 2016 by Ken

 

Adriaan Strauss has been confirmed as the new Springbok captain and it’s difficult to find a current player whose leadership skills and personality are more admired across the board in South African rugby.

The 30-year-old is one of those people for whom leadership comes naturally, even though he is softly-spoken and rarely demonstrative, a classic example of someone who leads from the front through actions, rather than words. He is currently doing a fine job as the captain of a young Bulls side, having previously led the Cheetahs, and has been a member of the Springbok leadership group for some time, having already played 55 Tests and been a vice-captain on several occasions.

Former Springbok eighthman Anton Leonard, who is working closely with Strauss as the Bulls’ forwards coach, is well-placed to speak about the hooker’s leadership skills, having led the Loftus Versfeld outfit himself to two Currie Cup crowns.

“Atta is a great person before he’s a rugby player and I have a lot of respect for him, a lot of players have a lot of respect for him as well. He’s not a big-talker, he’s more of a doer, but when he speaks, people listen. He’s done a tremendous job at the Bulls, especially with a young side, showing them the ropes of life and rugby. He’s personally earmarked and is growing some other leaders in the squad,” Leonard told Saturday Citizen.

There is little flashy about Springbok captain number 57 – although he is rather adept at stealing balls in the ruck – but he will be bringing technical excellence to his core role as a hooker and that is in solidifying the set-pieces. Leonard said these will be exciting times under the stocky Billy Bunter-like figure of Strauss, who did his schooling at Grey College in Bloemfontein like so many other Springboks.

“His appointment is very satisfying for us who work with him and I’m very glad for him. Firstly, he deserves to be the number one hooker, he’s number one in SuperRugby in that position if you look at the stats for the lineout. His hard work has paid off and he will bring fighting spirit to the Springboks in what is obviously going to be an exciting new era.

“He will have a lot of leaders around him, helping, respected guys like Warren Whiteley and the experienced Pat Lambie. But Atta’s strengths are that he is very good at summing up the game and he looks first at himself. He’s very humble and straightforward, every player knows where he stands with him. He handles pressure well, he shifts it on to himself and takes responsibility,” Leonard said.

Adriaan Strauss is living proof that not saying much does not mean you cannot have an amazing impact on those around you.

LAST 20 SPRINGBOK CAPTAINS

 

NAME              DATE          VERSUS      WHERE   RESULT    AGE   TEST No.      PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE
Wynand Claassen  30/5/81    Ireland                  Cape Town          23-15          30           Debut                       Natal captain
Divan Serfontein    20/10/84  S America & Spain   Pretoria    32-15          30           18th                         Led WP to 3 Currie Cup titles
Naas Botha               10/5/86        New Zealand         Cape Town      21-15       28            18th                        NT captain 4 previous seasons
Jannie Breedt        26/8/89      World XV            Cape Town            20-19        30           5th                    Tvl captain in 2 Currie Cup finals
Francois Pienaar   26/6/93     France                   Durban                 20-20         26           Debut          Captained Tvl Super 10 title 1992
Tiaan Strauss           9/7/94       New Zealand       Dunedin      14-22        29           12th             WP capt, close contender when Pienaar appointed
Adriaan Richter        30/5/95     Romania           Cape Town             21-8        29           8th            Midweek captain on Boks’ 93 tour of Australia; NT captain
Gary Teichmann         17/8/96      New Zealand   Durban            19-23              29        7th         Captained Natal to ’95 Currie Cup title
Corne Krige               19/6/99                Italy              Durban       101-0            24          Debut         Captain Paarl BHS, SA Schools & WP
Rassie Erasmus        17/7/99        Australia      Brisbane      6-32        26                21st      Turned down captaincy earlier when Krige appointed
Joost van der Westhuizen   7/8/99    New Zealand      Pretoria  18-34    28           52nd                   Led Blue Bulls to ’98 Currie Cup title, inspired confidence
Andre Vos                        10/10/99           Spain                    Edinburgh   47-3  24           7th                 Lions captain ’98 & former Bok midweek captain
Bobby Skinstad                  30/6/01           Italy                Port Elizabeth    60-14    24           18th                Maties, WP & Stormers capt
John Smit                             24/10/03          Georgia               Sydney      46-19        25           24th     Led SA U21 to Sanzar title & Natal ’01 CC final
Victor Matfield                  23/6/07      New Zealand        Durban        21-26    30         58th       Bulls Super 14-winning captain, highly respected
Johan Muller                 14/7/07           New Zealand            Christchurch   6-33    27           16th            Sharks Currie Cup captain
Jean de Villiers             9/6/2012           England                 Durban           22-17       31           73rd    Stormers capt & long-term leader in Bok team
Schalk Burger                    25/7/15       New Zealand       Johannesburg  20-27    32           78th         SA U21 & Stormers captain
Fourie du Preez              3/10/15         Scotland                   Newcastle       34-16     33        72nd         2008 Bulls Super Rugby captain, had to turn down Bok captaincy in 2012
Adriaan Strauss            11/6/16          Ireland                 Cape Town       ??-??    30         56th                Previously Bok vice-captain, Cheetahs & Bulls SR capt
 
 
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  • Thought of the Day

    1 Corinthians 3:3 - "For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?"

    One of my favourite U2 songs is a collaboration with Johnny Cash called The Wanderer, and it features the line "they say they want the kingdom, but they don't want God in it".
    Many people say they believe in God, but they don't experience his loving presence. They may be active in Christian work, but only if they have their way. If they cannot be leaders, they refuse to be involved.
    Because they refuse to allow God to fill their lives with his love, they remain weak and powerless.
    Spiritual maturity means developing a greater love for others.

    "When the love of Christ saturates you, immature attitudes such as pettiness, jealousy and strife are dissolved.
    "It is only when you have an intimate relationship with the Lord that you receive sufficient grace to rise above this immaturity and enjoy the solid food that the Holy Spirit gives you." - Solly Ozrovech, A Shelter From The Storm



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