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Ken Borland



Faf says the ball-tampering saga showed the unity in the Proteas squad 0

Posted on December 04, 2016 by Ken

 

Triumphant Proteas captain Faf du Plessis returned to Johannesburg on Tuesday and described the whole ball-tampering saga as a ploy by the Australian media to disrupt the South African team, but said the farce had served as a powerful indicator of the unity within the squad.

A video of Du Plessis doing two entirely legal things at once – sucking a mint and using his saliva to shine the ball – went viral in Australia between the second and third Tests, leading to the International Cricket Council charging the captain with ball-tampering and later finding him guilty and fining him his entire match fee from the Hobart game, during which South Africa won the series.

“The Australian media used it as a ploy to derail us, they speak of themselves as the Australian team’s 12th man. The challenge was to fight back and it was remarkable the way the team fought the battle so firmly for me, it shows where we are as a team in terms of our strong culture.

“At first we didn’t think it was anything really serious, but the media made it a big issue until nobody could control it. It was very disappointing the way it turned out, but my character was tested and against all odds I was able to make a play, it showed I can withstand those tests,” Du Plessis, who made a century in the third Test, said.

Team manager Mohammed Moosajee said they will be arranging a date for the appeal hearing, at which Du Plessis will have his own legal representation from South Africa, with the ICC and it should be set by the end of this week.

Moosajee also revealed that Cricket South Africa had laid an official complaint with their Australian counterparts and broadcasters Channel 9 had apologised for the behaviour of their aggressive reporter who sparked a scuffle at Adelaide Airport.

While admitting that captaincy brought out the best in him, Du Plessis reiterated that he sees himself as the stand-in skipper for AB de Villiers, who is set to return for the Sri Lanka series next month.

“I’ve always enjoyed it, I feel it does bring out the best in me, but AB knows that I am 100% behind him. I’ve learnt a lot about myself as a leader and the great thing is that the team has three guys – myself, Hashim Amla and AB – who have been captains and we are all very similar in the way we want the culture of the team to move forward,” Du Plessis said.

South Africa are still only fifth in the Test rankings, however, with Australia third.

“Going up the rankings is a goal of ours but it won’t just happen, we need to take really small steps to get back to number one. But all the signs are there that we can get back there; Sri Lanka are a good team, they’re playing well, but if we beat them then I reckon we’ll be close to number two,” Du Plessis said.

Coetzee calls for all-encompassing review, including of him 0

Posted on December 03, 2016 by Ken

 

Springbok coach Allister Coetzee returned to Johannesburg on Monday and said he would accept it if the South African Rugby Union decided to remove him from his post as long as it was part of an all-encompassing review of South African rugby.

Coetzee and the team returned from what the coach termed a “disastrous” tour of Europe without a win, leaving them with just four victories in 12 Tests this year, the worst record since the Springboks lost seven of their eight Tests in 1965.

“In one word, the tour was disastrous. But on the other hand, sometimes you have to go as low as you can go in order to get back up again and I still see a massive opportunity for this team. But we cannot plaster over the cracks, there has to be a proper clean-out of the wounds. There will have to be changes.

“I will be the first to put my hand up and take responsibility, and the players have owned up too, but finger-pointing doesn’t help. We need a good, proper review that addresses all the key areas. My vision and the players’ vision and the franchises’ visions all have to be aligned so that Springbok rugby is of number one importance.

“I am contracted until 2019, and my performance will be discussed in my review. Of course I am disappointed in my performance too. But every coach goes through a tough year and I would rather take it at the beginning. We might not see it now, but this is best for Springbok rugby, I see it as a turning point and if the time is not right for me to be coach, then I will accept that,” Coetzee said at OR Tambo International Airport on Monday.

While Coetzee said he did not want to single out the players, he said poor skill levels and conditioning were the major problems in terms of on-field performance.

The 53-year-old coach also said the pipeline leading to the Springboks, which has previously been the envy of other countries, needed to be streamlined.

“From the schools, through the U21s, all the way to the Springboks, we need to have a hard look at the pipeline. Does it all benefit Springbok rugby? We need to work together as South Africans, doing well in just the Currie Cup or Super Rugby is not good enough.

“The northern hemisphere are doing very well now, it’s no longer the case that we are better than them because they have immense collaboration. It’s the same with the franchises in New Zealand and that’s indicative of where they are now. Collaboration is most important.

“Everyone involved in rugby needs to start working on the 10 most important things to get the Springbok team to perform and put those in place. I have a good idea of what I want to put in place and I’d like to make sure when I leave the post that there is a clear and tangible blueprint for collaboration with the franchise coaches on how we contract players and what we expect from them in terms of conditioning,” Coetzee said.

Retiring captain Adriaan Strauss was similarly apologetic, but said he felt positive that the Springboks would rise again.

“There’s a lot of talent and good players even though it has been a disappointing, challenging year. We’re not in a good space at the moment, and there have been a lot of causes over some time, but I believe it is a good time to address those now. There are a lot of things that have not been spoken openly about before and it has to be a joint effort now to sort those out.

“There are a lot of good decisions and discussions to be made and I believe some good will come out of this. We need to construct a way forward and everyone is accountable from the players up all through the ladder. Everyone has to work together, we need to realise where we are now and make the right decisions now so we can build for the future. I’m very hopeful of the future, there’s lots to be excited about,” Strauss said.

“The year hurts in the way that we feel we have let people down and the supporters have every right to feel let down. But every guy who wears this blazer does their all, they do everything in their power. The Springboks are supposed to be up there with the best, the fans are fully within their rights to demand that, and we haven’t produced that excellence.

“I accepted responsibility when I said yes to the captaincy and it was not the best of years, in fact the records will show it was the worst. I made a lot of mistakes and I apologise for that, it was a learning curve for me. But I’m also proud of a lot of things I did, I always put the Springboks first and in tough times I feel I stood up,” an emotional Strauss said.

“The players must also take responsibility and the coaches as well, we’re all in this together, and SA Rugby as well. I can openly and honestly say that everyone must step up, everyone has made mistakes. We are all responsible and we must all face up together. We can’t be having a pity party.”

While the torment is over for Strauss, coach Coetzee will pray he never has another year like 2016.

“It does test everything as a person, even my faith. But I am still alive and kicking through the grace of God. You do have doubts when things don’t go right, but I believed in my plan and then you feel better when the players and captain give you buy-in every Monday when we start training again,” Coetzee said.

“I can understand the supporters are disappointed, so are we. Many people feel I should stay on and I am confident that I can turn the team around. I’m not the sort of guy to just walk away.”

http://citizen.co.za/sport/sport-rugby/1359769/coetzee-calls-encompassing-review-including/

Matfield returned to finish on a high at World Cup & work with Meyer again 0

Posted on September 18, 2015 by Ken

 

Finishing his career on a high at the World Cup and having another chance to work with coach Heyneke Meyer were the main reasons Victor Matfield returned to rugby last year after retiring in 2011.

And even the skeptics were won over as Matfield enjoyed a fine season, his excellent form for the Bulls in SuperRugby winning him a return to the Springbok side.

And when the likes of Pieter-Steph du Toit and Flip van der Merwe were injured, the Springboks were reliant on the veteran number five lock to run their lineout, which he did with aplomb.

“There were a lot of challenges last year and it was a big decision to make to play again, it wasn’t easy and I was a bit nervous. But I’m pretty happy with my personal performance.

“Some of the other contenders were injured so it made it a bit easier for me, it opened up a gap for me,” Matfield said.

Having retired at the last World Cup and begun moving into his coaching career at the Bulls, it was Springbok coach Meyer, who coached the Bulls from 2000-2007, who told Matfield he believed he could still feature at this year’s global showpiece, even though he will be 38 when the tournament begins.

“Heyneke told me that if I was at my best, then he knew I would be good enough for another World Cup. But he said I had to play well in SuperRugby. He asked me to come back and knowing I had his backing was a big help in pushing myself.

“It’s one of the big things that motivates me, a new opportunity to work with Heyneke at the Springboks. We were able to build something very special at the Bulls and I was really keen to play with players like Fourie du Preez again, and also guys like Schalk Burger and Jean de Villiers, under Heyneke. And it’s been really successful having all of us back together at the Boks,” Matfield said.

The challenge of getting used to the intense physicality required when playing in the pack in top-class rugby was the first thing Matfield had to deal with, and thereafter it was a mental adjustment.

“It was all about the mindset in the end. When you’re 21, rugby is everything. But when you reach my age, then your marriage and your kids are also very important. But you have to decide to give rugby everything, which is a big decision.

“But with the backing of my family, rugby has become number one again. My wife Monja knows that if I put my mind to something then I am very disciplined about it,” Matfield said.

Matfield was allowed to take it relatively easy in the pre-season by Bulls coach Frans Ludeke but the veteran has played all 240 minutes of their first three SuperRugby games.

“Last year I thought that I was only going to play five or six games, but I ended up playing all of them. And now this year we lost our first two games at home, so the pressure is on again.

“I still hope to get managed in terms of game time because it’s important for your recovery. My fitness is there, but after five or six games it takes longer to recover from the knocks and be ready for the next game at my age,” South Africa’s most-capped player said.

Matfield is confident that Meyer will preside over a successful World Cup campaign, and with De Villiers recovering from knee surgery, the former Toulon lock might well be captain.

“My last year before retiring was 2011 and that was a bad year, with a very disappointing World Cup. Heyneke believes I can win another World Cup this year and there are very talented players in South Africa at the moment.

“Heyneke is pushing for us all to be kept fresh through SuperRugby, so hopefully there aren’t too many injuries. If we want to win, then we need all our best players there,” Matfield said.

Matfield has precious experience and his lineout skills are still invaluable. It may seem preposterous, but one of the Springboks best players in the 2015 World Cup could well be Matfield, as it was in Paris in 2007.

 

 

Rabada explodes on to international stage & wins fulsome praise from Donald 2

Posted on July 14, 2015 by Ken

Kagiso Rabada has made the most sensational start to a Proteas ODI career since Allan Donald exploded on to the international stage when South Africa returned to world cricket in Kolkata in November 1991, and the former national bowling coach says he believes the 20-year-old prodigy is only going to get better and better.

Due to Apartheid, Donald was already 25 years old when he took five for 29 against India, but Rabada claimed the world record for best figures on ODI debut with his six for 16, including a top-order hat-trick, against Bangladesh in Dhaka.

Donald became one of the greatest bowlers the world has seen, but began his career as a young tearaway with pace to burn, but who was often erratic in terms of control. Rabada’s greatest attribute seems to be his control, at good pace, which is extraordinary for one so young.

“His overall skill just blows me away and even his control is exceptional, it’s a bit freakish. I still think he’s going to get quicker and it stands him in good stead that he’s grooving that control for when the extra pace comes later. He’s already ahead of where he should be, his rhythm is good, he’s tall, athletic and can bowl a heavy ball, and when you combine all of that together, as he grows into his body he’s definitely going to get faster,” Donald told The Citizen at the launch of the Titans’ and Nashua’s Art of Fast Bowling Programme at the weekend.

Rabada came into the national squad last summer when Donald was still the bowling coach, and the spearhead of South Africa’s return to international cricket says the St Stithians product is an absolute pleasure to work with.

“You can just sit back and watch him, his action, ability, athleticism, I don’t have a bad thing to say about him. He has a wonderful work ethic which makes a coach’s job so much easier, he wants to compete so badly and he asks a lot of great questions, which you don’t normally get from a 20-year-old. I just loved him, he’s well-grounded and full of humility as well.

“And he has a natural action, there’s absolutely no need to interfere with that. It’s clean, uncomplicated and all in sync. Are we looking at a legend? I’m pretty sure we are,” Donald said.

 

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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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