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Ken Borland



Beware the slip-up as Springboks take on Argentina 0

Posted on December 09, 2016 by Ken

 

The Springboks open their Rugby Championship campaign with a game against Argentina at the FNB Stadium on Saturday that has huge potential to be a real banana peel of a match – everyone expects South Africa to maintain their unbeaten record against the Pumas, but a slip-up and a defeat on home turf is still a definite possibility.

Duane Vermeulen, a powerful, physical eighthman, returns to the back of the scrum after a season once again disrupted by injury, while Juandre Kruger, a brilliant lineout organiser and jumper, is back in the number five jersey.

There are a couple of new faces on the bench as well – although the actual visages of scrumhalf Fourie du Preez and prop Gurthro Steenkamp are famous all over the rugby world as experienced former World Cup winners.

Vermeulen comes in for the injured Pierre Spies, the Bulls’ eighthman whose abilities are way more highly rated by the Springbok management than by those who base their opinion on televised displays.

 

“Duane can bring something different, he’s physical and unbelievably good on the ground, he’s like an extra openside flank because he competes very well for the ball. He’s good in the lineout too and I expect a good performance from him,” Meyer said on Wednesday.

Kruger, a good communicator in the lineout, returns in place of Flip van der Merwe, who moved from his normal number four position to number five to add some fire to the pack for their last Test against the combative Samoans in June.

For the time being, Meyer has decided to ease the Japan-based Du Preez into action off the bench, with Ruan Pienaar again the starting scrumhalf.

While we all wait with bated breath to see whether the talismanic 31-year-old can still dominate proceedings on the field as he did during his prime, there is no doubting Du Preez’s off-field value in guiding and motivating the Springboks.

“It would be unfair to expect and a lot to ask for Fourie to come straight in and start during his off-season, and it’s the right thing for the team for him to ease back in. He will definitely get game time and that’s a lot of experience to bring on,” Meyer said.

Meyer said Pienaar’s retention in the number nine jersey was all part of his desire for continuity.

“Ruan is the number one choice, he’s the guy in the saddle and we’ve opted for continuity.

“I don’t want to chop and change every week, we’ve won six Tests on the trot and we want to take that momentum forward. We’ve only had one week’s proper preparation for this Test, so that’s why I wanted to keep continuity. Because we’ve had very little time to prepare, continuity has been the deciding factor in selection,” Meyer said.

Because of this policy, the in-form Adriaan Strauss also retains the number two jersey ahead of the benched Bismarck du Plessis, who is considered the best hooker in the world.

The other key features of the selection are Meyer placing his faith in Willie le Roux at fullback and Bjorn Basson on the left wing, while the scavenging skills of Siya Kolisi see him earn the loose forward reserve’s spot on the bench ahead of ball-carrier and tackler Marcell Coetzee, a result of the coach’s new emphasis on the breakdown.

The defensive frailties of Basson are a concern and the awful mistake he made in the Bulls’ 22 during the SuperRugby final led to the match-winning, last-minute try by the Brumbies. JJ Engelbrecht, the outside centre for Saturday’s Test, has also shown a propensity to rush out of the defensive line, and the cut-throat intensity of international rugby means such mistakes can mean the difference between victory and defeat.

“We’ve only had one defence session during the week and it’s difficult to fix things like that in that time. But they are both great players and I have a lot of confidence in our defence, we’ve only been conceding a little more than one try per Test on average.

“Bjorn and JJ are both brilliant attackers and that means the other guys need to defend too. I want an attacking mindset, they say the best form of defence is attack, and even the best backline in the world will make mistakes now and then,” Meyer said.

Kolisi confirmed that the breakdown would be his key focus.

“I want to become more of an openside flank and I’ve been working hard on slowing down the ball and getting to the ball first. Richie Gray [the Springboks’ new breakdown consultant] really knows what he is talking about and he’s had us getting quickly off the ground.

“These days you can’t play with nobody for the breakdown, you need quick ball in order to score tries, and we’re looking forward to getting better in that department.

“It’s my first game in the Rugby Championship, so it’s huge for me. I don’t feel entrenched in the squad because there are a lot of good loose forwards, and I must perform well every week to stay part of the 23,” Kolisi said.

Meyer said pace to the breakdowns would be crucial against Argentina because they employ similar tactics to the All Blacks.

“Argentina give you the outside gaps and then counter-ruck you, like the All Blacks do. So cleaning out at the rucks is very important,” Meyer said.

Meyer will hope for the same precision and attention to detail in all facets of the game if the Springboks are to avoid turning the celebrations of Nelson Mandela’s birthday into a sorry start to the Rugby Championship.

Team: 15-Willie le Roux, 14-Bryan Habana, 13-JJ Engelbrecht, 12-Jean de Villiers, 11-Bjorn Basson, 10-Morne Steyn, 9-Ruan Pienaar, 8-Duane Vermeulen, 7-Willem Alberts, 6-Francois Louw, 5-Juandre Kruger, 4-Eben Etzebeth, 3-Jannie du Plessis, 2-Adriaan Strauss, 1-Tendai Mtawarira. Replacements: 16-Bismarck du Plessis, 17-Gurthro Steenkamp, 18-Coenie Oosthuizen, 19-Flip van der Merwe, 20-Siya Kolisi, 21-Fourie du Preez, 22-Pat Lambie, 23-Jan Serfontein.

https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2013-08-15-rugby-championship-boks-lineup-will-have-its-hands-full-against-argentina/#.WFPh-rJ97IU

Competitiveness of Sharks youngsters on display after suspension of April 0

Posted on August 03, 2016 by Ken

 

The competitiveness of some of the Sharks’ youngsters will be on display early on in the Currie Cup with the suspension of Garth April for a breach of team protocol allowing 19-year-old Curwin Bosch an early chance to shine in the flyhalf position against the Pumas in Nelspruit on Friday.

The exact nature of April’s ill-discipline has not been revealed but it is obviously another blow to an exciting prospect whose game has gone dramatically backwards since his inclusion in the Springbok squad as more of an observer than anything else, culminating in a shellshocked display in the awful Wellington weather in the SuperRugby quarterfinal against the Hurricanes.

Bosch, a star member of the South African team at the Junior World Cup in June, made three appearances off the bench in SuperRugby, while he will have two debutants outside him in the backline in wing Neil Maritz and outside centre Lukhanyo Am.

“There’s great competition with the youngsters, which is fantastic. Hopefully we can expose them at that level and they will learn a lot. We’re blessed to have basically the same pack as in SuperRugby, which will give us great confidence, but there are a couple of new guys in the backline. But I’m very excited and positive about what lies ahead,” coach Robert du Preez said.

The former Springbok scrumhalf said he hoped some of the attacking ambition that was unborn in SuperRugby would now come to fruition in the Currie Cup.

“We had a good SuperRugby season, the focus was on sorting out our defence and I think we did that quite successfully, although we did leak tries towards the end of the competition. But the Currie Cup is certainly about attacking rugby, that’s our focus now. Defence is obviously a major part of what a team is about, but we want to play rugby that inspires,” Du Preez said.

Sharks team – Odwa Ndungane, Neil Maritz, Lukhanyo Am, Andre Esterhuizen, S’bura Sithole, Curwin Bosch, Michael Claassens, Philip van der Walt, Jean-Luc du Preez, Keegan Daniel (c), Stephan Lewies, Etienne Oosthuizen, Lourens Adriaanse, Franco Marais, Dale Chadwick. Bench: Chiliboy Ralepelle, Thomas du Toit, Ruan Botha, Tera Mtembu, Stefan Ungerer, Innocent Radebe, Heimar Williams.

Bothma returns in one of four changes for Sharks 0

Posted on December 10, 2015 by Ken

Ex-Pumas loose forward Renaldo Bothma returns to the Cell C Sharks starting line-up in place of the injured Willem Alberts for their Vodacom SuperRugby match against the Toyota Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Saturday after director of rugby Gary Gold announced a team with four changes on Thursday.

Alberts, who returned to action last weekend against the Stormers after a lengthy rehabilitation following a back operation, is now suffering from a tight hamstring and a po-faced Gold said he hoped the Springbok battering ram would only be out for a couple of weeks.

The Sharks scrum has been the centre of attention following their convincing defeat by the Stormers and Gold has responded to the threat the Cheetahs pose in that set-piece by choosing his first-choice front row, Jannie du Plessis and Tendai Mtawarira returning to join fellow Springbok Bismarck du Plessis.

Hard-working lock Mouritz Botha also returns to the starting line-up, displacing Lubabalo ‘Giant’ Mtyanda.

After losing three of their first four games, now’s the time for the Sharks to finally click and start playing like the Springbok-laden team they are, and Gold believes their strategy has been right, but the execution has let them down.

“It’s been a disappointing start, not what we expected, and the team is learning some harsh lessons. But there’s been no lack of effort, I have a lot of confidence in the players, they badly want to put it right and they just have to man-up and fight again.

“You always question where you went wrong, was it the plan or was it the execution? We’ve seen that the plan can work, but when you lose, it gets put under even more of a microscope. It’s fine to question the plan, but you don’t want to panic and just start changing it. We want to play ball-in-hand rugby, we want to attack more, in the right areas of the field,” Gold said on Thursday.

The Sharks and Cheetahs played against each other in the opening weekend of SuperRugby action in Durban, and the Central franchise wrecked the KwaZulu-Natalians’ set-piece, something that Gold acknowledges cannot happen again on Saturday if the Sharks are to win.

“The set-piece wasn’t good enough last time we played the Cheetahs and we can’t take them lightly. They’re a good team with ball-in-hand, and they have dangerous broken-field runners, especially their back three. And they play with a lot of width, especially in Bloemfontein. But we need to concentrate on what we do best and not worry about trends,” Gold said.

Team: 15-SP Marais, 14-Odwa Ndungane, 13-JP Pietersen, 12-Francois Steyn, 11-Lwazi Mvovo, 10-Pat Lambie, 9-Cobus Reinach, 8-Ryan Kankowski, 7-Renaldo Bothma, 6-Marcell Coetzee, 5-Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4-Mouritz Botha, 3-Jannie du Plessis, 2-Bismarck du Plessis, 1-Tendai Mtawarira. Replacements – 16-Kyle Cooper, 17-Dale Chadwick/Thomas du Toit, 18-Lourens Adriaanse, 19-Marco Wentzel, 20-Tera Mtembu, 21-Conrad Hoffmann, 22-Andre Esterhuizen, 23-Jack Wilson.

http://citizen.co.za/343022/bothma-returns-to-sharks-starting-line-up/

Stonehouse praises returning Pumas’ intensity 0

Posted on August 28, 2014 by Ken

Mpumalanga Pumas coach Jimmy Stonehouse has praised his team’s intensity in their surprise 28-21 victory over the Free State Cheetahs at the Mbombela Stadium after a long time out of the Currie Cup Premier Division.

The Pumas were playing their first game in the top flight since 2011, but they out-scored the Cheetahs by three tries to two and were worthy winners on the opening weekend of Currie Cup action.

“It was our first game up in the Premier Division and the players were obviously a bit tense, but the intensity was brilliant and the guys refused to lay down,” Stonehouse said.

“We were under pressure in the first 10 minutes and it was great to come back the way that we did.”

The Pumas coach is undaunted by the scale of the task ahead of them in the Premier Division and said he expects his team to win at home.

“Playing at home is a great advantage for us, but if we want to make the semi-finals then winning at home is a must, we have to win away from home too. It’s obviously good to start with a win like that at home, but at least getting bonus points away from home is what we’re aiming for,” Stonehouse said.

There has been an outpouring of angst in the Free State recently after the Cheetahs’ dismal SuperRugby performance and new coach Rory Duncan was fielding a largely new-look side in Nelspruit.

“The majority of the side only came together two or three weeks ago, so mistakes were understandable. But we made too many simple mistakes, knocking-on four or five times in the Pumas’ 22. It’s early season though, there’s obviously still a lot of work to do and I wasn’t too disappointed by the effort,” Duncan said.

The Free State coach was heartened by his team’s ability to hang on to possession for long periods, but admitted his side had been dominated by the Pumas in the scrums.

“We battled in the scrums, but we still managed to hang on to possession through numerous phases, a few times we took the ball from our own 10m line to their 22. We had opportunities to win, but mistakes cost us.

“But you have to give credit as well to the Pumas and Jimmy for the way the guys came out, they were fired up. They’re a good side and if you don’t bring your A-game to Nelspruit, you will get caught out,” Duncan said.

“Our scrums obviously went well and we also set up our mauls brilliantly, but we made life difficult for ourselves by losing a couple of lineouts. We also need to play into space a bit more,” Stonehouse said.

 http://www.sport24.co.za/Rugby/CurrieCup/Stonehouse-praises-Pumas-20140810



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