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Ken Borland



Bad news for Titans but good signs for the future – Walter 0

Posted on January 04, 2016 by Ken

The bad news for the Unlimited Titans after their three-wicket loss to the Dolphins at the weekend is that it has almost certainly knocked them out of contention for the Sunfoil Series title; the good news is that coach Rob Walter is nevertheless proud of their performance and believes they are steadily improving in four-day cricket.

The Titans, with three wins in eight matches, are now third on the log with two rounds remaining, 13.36 points behind the second-placed Dolphins and 30.04 points behind the bizhub Highveld Lions. That means even if they win their remaining two matches with a massive haul of points, say 40 in two games, the Lions will still only need 10 points from two games to beat them.

“Realistically it’s probably the end of the road, although we do still have a mathematical chance,” Walter admitted to The Citizen on Monday. “But we’ve focused on really improving our four-day disciplines this season and it’s important that our results reflect that, so we really want to push hard for second.”

On paper, the Titans should have a side that regularly wins titles, but the likes of Farhaan Behardien, Marchant de Lange, Albie Morkel, Dean Elgar and David Wiese have only made limited appearances due to national and SA A call-ups as well as injuries, never mind the fact that AB de Villiers, Faf du Plessis and Morne Morkel barely play for the franchise at all these days.

So Walter, who took over the coaching reins in 2013, has had to rebuild a competitive four-day outfit and is pleased with the progress that has been made.

“We were last in the Sunfoil Series in 2012/13 and fourth last season, so we’re aiming to win five games this season to finish even higher. We won three games last season and none the season before and once we learn to play the big moments a bit better, then we can finish right on top of the pile. Getting those five victories is hugely important for us,” Walter said.

And the Titans would probably have won their game against the Dolphins were it not for a brilliant stand of 116 for the seventh wicket between Morne van Wyk and Calvin Savage that carried the visitors from 58 for six to the brink of victory.

“From 60 for six, we would have backed ourselves to close out the game, but Morne and Calvin batted really well and showed a lot of resilience. We had a missed opportunity from Savage before he had scored 20, but I was really proud of the effort from the bowlers,” Walter said.

A superb burst of three wickets for one run in two overs from Rowan Richards had put the Titans in charge and the left-arm paceman is their leading wicket-taker this season with 29 at 27.65.

“When he gets on a roll he can be really devastating. Only the very top bowlers are able to replicate that every time they play, but where Rowan has journeyed forward this year is being able to deliver consistent performances when he’s not getting something special going,” Walter said.

As far as the batting goes, the Dolphins were able to gobble up wickets in clumps in both innings and an extra 50 runs is what eats away at Walter as he considers the game.

“If we had just been a bit smarter, we could have had at least another 50 runs. It’s disappointing, but the Dolphins were just 20% better in the crucial moments like Roelof van der Merwe’s run out in the second innings.”

“But for Dean Elgar to score a hundred on that surface was an unbelievable effort and Qaasim Adams again showed what he is capable of and it’s great that he’s getting consistency into his game.

“Theunis de Bruyn and Henry Davids had a very good stand in the first innings, but both got out to really good balls,” Walter said.

http://citizen.co.za/344990/walter-its-probably-the-end-of-the-road/

Boks fail to make the country proud, says moer in Frik 0

Posted on September 21, 2015 by Ken

 

“They say they want to make the country proud but at the moment they just make us the moer in!” was Springbok legend Frik du Preez’s reaction to South Africa’s shock World Cup defeat at the hands of Japan over the weekend.

Japan beat the Springboks 34-32 in Brighton to register arguably the biggest upset in rugby history and cast into serious doubt the two-time champions’ ability to even make the knockout stages.

“We are all shocked and bleeding. Never mind the biggest shock in World Cup history, this is the biggest shock in rugby history, in my personal opinion. You have to look at the players – they were selected to represent South Africa but they were up to kak. When your senior players are getting 3/10 rankings then you’re in serious trouble. But you also have to blame the people who select them,” Du Preez, who was named as the Springboks’ player of the 21st century, told The Citizen from BelaBela on Sunday.

“Japan played wonderful rugby, but our Golden Lions team would beat them. Rugby is a simple game and there’s a simple truth in all sport and that’s that you have to qualify to play in a World Cup or the Olympics. You can’t just send anybody to a World Cup. We should have identified players from Super Rugby and sent them instead of a whole lot of injured players. They were brilliant in their day, but you can’t select on past form, you must select on current form,” Du Preez added.

Mark Andrews, another great Springbok lock and a 1995 World Cup winner, said he feared that every international rugby team now knows how to beat the Springboks.

“Teams have worked out how to beat us and that’s by stopping our momentum. They dominate our forwards, make sure we get slow ball and get quick ball for themselves. It’s because we don’t have players like Bakkies Botha or Os du Randt making the big hits. There were no significant big-hitters in the team against Japan and so we couldn’t get momentum.

“The pack is meant to be focusing on the breakdown, but every time they’re all standing in the backline, there’s nobody smashing guys on the gain-line anymore. We didn’t dominate the shortest team in the world either up front or in the aerial game. There are certain fundamentals of the game and the guys need to climb in up front,” Andrews said.

The performance of the senior players was also slammed by Andrews.

“Heyneke Meyer mentions all the experience in the side every time, but if you look at the senior players against Japan, they looked shellshocked! In 1995, we played Australia with about 40 caps between us compared to them having over 600 and we won; the number of caps really doesn’t matter unless those players are on form,” Andrews said.

http://citizen.co.za/780886/boks-make-us-mad-frik-du-preez/

 

Can the Springboks use ProteaFire? 0

Posted on November 12, 2014 by Ken

The Springboks versus All Blacks rugby Test at Ellis Park last weekend counted as one of the greatest sports events I have been to and I felt immensely proud not just because our national rugby team won, but also because of the way they played and the way they carried themselves after the long-awaited triumph over their greatest rivals.

Even if one is not impressed by the way New Zealand and South Africa are steering rugby in a bright new direction of high-tempo play, the wonderful spirit shown between the two teams and the obviously high respect they hold each other in, must gladden the heart of all who love sport for the character-building effects it can have.

The wonderful gesture made by the All Blacks in Wellington when Richie McCaw handed over gifts to Bryan Habana and Jean de Villiers for playing their 100th Tests will live long in the memory. The fact that nothing of that sort happened in Australia probably says more about the special relationship between the Springboks and All Blacks rather than any deficiencies on the Wallabies’ part.

But if the Springboks are going to win over even more hearts and minds – it is clear that still not everyone in South Africa believes they represent them – then perhaps they should take a leaf out of the book of their cricket counterparts who launched their ProteaFire campaign this week to some fanfare.

A huge part of the Proteas’ success in recent years has been due to the calibre of people in the team – the likes of Graeme Smith, Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers, Faf du Plessis, JP Duminy, Dale Steyn, Ryan McLaren, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander are all fantastic human beings – and the Springboks also have some fantastic leaders of men in their ranks, Jean de Villiers, Victor Matfield, Tendai Mtawarira, Adriaan Strauss, Duane Vermeulen, Francois Louw, Bryan Habana and JP Pietersen springing readily to mind.

Rugby will be facing their own World Cup challenge next year, but they will also be tested off the field with sponsors cutting back and transformation issues still bedevilling them.

Whether ProteaFire will help the cricketers finally win their World Cup remains to be seen but what is certain is that most of the population will be firmly behind them.

ProteaFire emphasises the importance of putting the team ahead of the individual and the concept of Ubuntu is a key part of Graeme Smith’s vision that started in 2007. Cricket is often, because of its tradition of statistics, a very individual game and one would have thought rugby, perhaps the greatest of team sports, would have been quicker to implement this sort of mission statement of what playing for the national side really means.

For the cricketers, their diversity will be their strength and rugby probably isn’t quite there yet.

Another important aspect of ProteaFire is that it is almost a contract the national team have signed with their supporters in terms of what is expected of them, on and off the field. As Hashim Amla pointed out, this does not mean treating players like babies.

“On the field, emotions can run high and nobody’s perfect. It’s not about having 15 saints, everybody’s different and it’s about getting the strengths of all 15 players together and dealing with any fallouts,” Amla said.

One cannot help but come to the conclusion that the current turmoil wreaking havoc in English cricket is born out of their failure to deal properly with issues of team culture and identity.

Kevin Pietersen can be a brat, but there have been difficult cricketers before who have been allowed to enjoy the middle of the spotlight while still contributing to the team success.

Last Saturday night at Ellis Park and Thursday night in the SuperSport studios were two proud evenings because it showed South African sports teams are getting it right.

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.

 

   



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