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Ken Borland



Concerns through the team for Meyer ahead of quadrangular 0

Posted on May 04, 2016 by Ken

 

Fullback and flyhalf are the positions the public is talking about the most, but Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer will be equally concerned about lock, scrumhalf, centre and wing when he announces his squad on Saturday for the quadrangular series with Italy, Scotland and Samoa next month.

Flyhalf is actually one of the positions Meyer can rest easy over, with Morné Steyn making himself a certainty in the number 10 jersey with his great run for the in-form Bulls team.

South Africa are fortunate to have someone as talented as Pat Lambie as back-up, but a host of injuries have robbed Meyer of some key backline players. JP Pietersen, Jaco Taute and Frans Steyn are definitely out for at least the next month, while Juan de Jongh and Zane Kirchner have not played SuperRugby for some time.

That leaves some conundrums when it comes to the midfield combination and who will play fullback.

When Meyer first took over as Springbok coach, he chose Jean de Villiers as an outside centre and, given his polished display in the number 13 jersey in the Stormers’ return to winning ways last weekend, the national captain is likely to play there in the quadrangular series.

The Springbok management have given a big hint that 20-year-old Jan Serfontein is being lined up to make his Test debut inside the skipper as he has been withdrawn from the SA U20 team leaving today for the Junior World Championship in France. Robert Ebersohn has done much to make the Cheetahs serious SuperRugby contenders this year and is also an option but, despite his propensity to tackle way above his weight, he has still missed 31 tackles this season, the joint worst with Blues flyhalf Chris Noakes, according to rugbystats.com.au.

The other option is for De Villiers to play in the number 12 jersey he wore in the second half of 2012 and for JJ Engelbrecht to play 13. The Bulls youngster is almost certain to be in the squad, however, as he can also cover wing.

The back three is also a big problem for Meyer given the injuries to Pietersen, Taute, Frans Steyn and Kirchner. Bryan Habana, whose work rate and pace continue to impress, is the only certainty, while the coach might decide to move Francois Hougaard back to wing, given that the Bulls man has only recently returned from injury and has looked messy and off the pace at scrumhalf.

The other candidates for wing are Bjorn Basson, who could be favoured because of his tremendous ability in the air, Raymond Rhule, Lwazi Mvovo, Gio Aplon and Willie le Roux.

The latter two are also in the mix to be fullback. Meyer would be foolish to risk playing his regular number 15, Kirchner, given that he has not played any rugby in 10 weeks since having a finger operation.

But he could still pick an experienced international there by moving Lambie from flyhalf to fullback. Hopefully Meyer will also have the courage to consider playing Cheetahs magician Willie le Roux there, even if it is off the bench.

The Ulster-based Ruan Pienaar is likely to be the starting scrumhalf, with the pace on attack provided by Jano Vermaak a useful complementary attribute on the bench.

The second row is also going to be an interesting dilemma for Meyer. The great Bakkies Botha will be available, but the coach has already hinted that Pienaar and flank Francois Louw will be the only overseas-based players he will be calling on for the quadrangular.

The inconsistent Andries Bekker is not willing to play for the Springboks once he leaves for Japan – and is injured anyway – but Juandré Kruger will be available and is the obvious choice in the number five jersey, providing he is over the niggling injury that kept him from the field in the Springboks’ training camp this week.

Eben Etzebeth showed in his outstanding display for the Stormers last weekend that he will be able to fulfil the lineout general’s role as well, but if Bakkies is not going to be called up, the team might be stronger with Etzebeth at four.

Franco van der Merwe, so reliable for the Sharks this year, will then be the back-up number five.

The loose forward selection will inevitably be coloured by Meyer’s decision to once again ignore Heinrich Brüssow.

The Cheetahs openside flank has managed to con many critics that he is still as potent a fetcher as he was in 2009, but all the stats providers involved in SuperRugby show otherwise. He isn’t in the top 20 for pilfers on any of the stats sites, but where he does feature is in the top 10 for tackles made.

Meyer is right to be wary of unleashing Brüssow with northern hemisphere referees officiating and the rules of his trade much stricter these days, but contesting rucks is not the honey badger’s only skill. Brüssow is exceptionally strong for his size, has a great work rate and good ball skills and is hopefully not entirely out of Meyer’s plans, if even as an impact player.

It seems inevitable that the starting loose trio on June 8 against Italy in Durban will be Pierre Spies, Willem Alberts and Louw, with the bench spots contested between Marcell Coetzee, Arno Botha and new star Lappies Labuschagne.

Jannie du Plessis, Adriaan Strauss and Coenie Oosthuizen are bound to be the starting front row and Wiehahn Herbst is in line for his Test debut as reserve tighthead, with Chiliboy Ralepelle and Tendai Mtawarira the other reserves now that teams are compelled to have two props on the bench.

Bismarck du Plessis is in a similar position to Kirchner and should not be risked as he has not played a SuperRugby match the entire season. A run of three games for the Sharks after the June international window and Du Plessis should be ready to explode into Rugby Championship action having recovered properly from a serious knee injury.

Ralepelle will certainly not let the side down in the meantime, having shown accuracy at the lineout, great work rate and presence at the breakdowns for the Bulls this season.

What Meyer is not going to be conned into doing is playing flavours-of-the-month that may not be contenders for the next World Cup that is just 840 days away, no matter how vigorously their brilliance is debated in your local bar.

No more than a pair of new caps in Serfontein and Le Roux are worth betting on, but it should make fans happy that the Springbok coach can afford not to choose some of the other great talent laying around.

Probable squad – Pat Lambie, Willie le Roux, Bryan Habana, Lwazi Mvovo, Jean de Villiers, JJ Engelbrecht, Jan Serfontein, Robert Ebersohn, Francois Hougaard, Bjorn Basson, Morné Steyn, Ruan Pienaar, Jano Vermaak, Pierre Spies, Arno Botha, Willem Alberts, Lappies Labuschagne, Francois Louw, Marcell Coetzee, Juandré Kruger, Franco van der Merwe, Eben Etzebeth, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Flip van der Merwe, Jannie du Plessis, Wiehahn Herbst, Adriaan Strauss, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Coenie Oosthuizen, Tendai Mtawarira.

http://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2013-05-30-springbok-squad-preview-a-few-headaches-but-no-migraine-for-meyer#.Vys00IR97IU

Meyer in the mood for a big victory 0

Posted on December 15, 2015 by Ken

 

Although the Springboks trounced Italy convincingly, Scotland has traditionally not been an easy opponent to destroy. Heyneke Meyer’s reluctance to add to the 852 players in the index of South Africa’s capped internationals for Saturday’s Test against a depleted Scottish side has many people baffled, but the Springbok coach perhaps let slip his motivation with a throwaway line during the team announcement.

“Our past results against Scotland are nothing to be proud of,” he said in midweek.

He obviously meant results in the recent past because Meyer would have grown up hearing stories of how the Springboks set the world record score against Scotland in Edinburgh in 1951 when they walloped them 44-0. Tries were only worth three points back then, so South Africa’s tally of nine, plus seven conversions from Okey Geffin and a drop goal from Hannes Brewis would have been equivalent to a 62-0 drubbing in today’s terms.

But since 2002, the Springboks have struggled to really put the Scots away. They lost 21-6 that year in Edinburgh and again 21-17 in 2010, but even their victories, with a couple of exceptions, have not been by much – 29-25 (Durban, 2003); 28-19 (Johannesburg, 2003); 45-10 (Edinburgh 2004); 36-16 (Durban, 2006); 29-15 (Port Elizabeth, 2006); 27-3 (Edinburgh, 2007); 14-10 (Edinburgh, 2008) and 21-10 (Edinburgh 2012).

So Meyer is clearly hoping for something more along the lines of 62-0 as he calls into service the bulk of the team that put Italy away in impressive fashion last weekend.

With South Africa set to play Scotland in a potential pool decider in their own conditions in the 2015 Rugby World Cup, Meyer will also be keen on scoring some psychological points through a big victory.

With another week of training together hopefully providing even more continuity, and those first Test nerves a thing of the past for a handful of players, Meyer is confident that the Springboks will build on their King’s Park performance when they play the first Test to be hosted by the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit.

And the home side certainly has numerous weapons with which to really hurt the Scots.

Bryan Habana won the Man of the Match award for his dazzling display of pacy counter-attacking and new Scotland flyhalf Ruaridh Jackson and debutant fullback Peter Murchie are warned that aimless kicking will be punished.

Saturday also provides another opportunity for Willie le Roux and JJ Engelbrecht to shine, while if left wing Bjorn Basson continues to look for work, he could well add to his maiden Test try last weekend.

Scotland suffered a terrible injury toll after their loss to the physical Samoans. Coach Scott Johnson said he was “hard-pressed to remember so many injuries from the one Test match” – and unfortunately for them they can expect more of the same from the Springboks.

The loose trio of Pierre Spies, Arno Botha and Marcell Coetzee are renowned for their physicality, as is lock Eben Etzebeth, while Meyer can turn to the likes of Coenie Oosthuizen, Flip van der Merwe and, of course, Bismarck du Plessis, for even more punching power off the bench.

The ferocious Du Plessis is likely to only be on the field for a short period, but Scotland could well learn the meaning of vasbyt in that time.

“I’ve never been out this long before, I’ve missed six Sharks games in eight years before the knee operation, so frustration doesn’t even come close to describing the feeling. Even if you miss one game, you can never get it back again and even if I just get one minute on Saturday, I’m going to try and fit 80 minutes of rugby into it,” Du Plessis vowed this week.

Siya Kolisi, who at 1.86m is shorter than the loose forwards Meyer usually favours, is another who should get a stint off the bench and the debutant will want to make his presence count at the breakdowns.

Meyer has identified the breakdowns as one of the key areas he is looking to improve in the second year of his term and, with Francois Louw the first-choice open-side flank, Kolisi will want to make the most of his chance while the Bath man is away getting married this weekend.

The scrums are another area where the Springboks can improve, but in the unlikely event of Jannie du Plessis and Tendai Mtawarira struggling, Meyer does have the insurance of in-form Cheetahs props Oosthuizen and Trevor Nyakane on the bench.

Scotland will have an experienced tighthead in British Lions tourist Euan Murray to test the Springbok scrum, but the visitors will be hard-pressed to match the lineout skills of the hosts.

The fact that an already depleted Scotland team have now been battered and bruised to such an extent that coach Johnson had to make seven more changes, does not inspire much confidence that they can upset a Springbok team that has their coach calling for blood.

“We still have to put in the hard work against Scotland. It’s like SuperRugby, any team can beat you on their day. We played some great rugby last weekend, but we’re still far from our best. We still need to improve and for us it’s about putting in 100%, 100% of the time,” Meyer said.

For the Springboks to slacken now would totally expose their coach’s about-turn on using this quadrangular series to try a bunch of players.

With a Nelspruit crowd eager to see the Springboks in action for the first time in their city, we can surely expect the Springboks to improve further on their start to the season in Durban by putting Scotland to the sword.

Teams

South Africa – Willie le Roux; Bryan Habana, JJ Engelbrecht, Jean de Villiers, Bjorn Basson; Morne Steyn, Ruan Pienaar; Pierre Spies, Arno Botha, Marcell Coetzee; Juandre Kruger, Eben Etzebeth; Jannie du Plessis, Adriaan Strauss, Tendai Mtawarira. Replacements: Bismarck du Plessis, Trevor Nyakane, Coenie Oosthuizen, Flip van der Merwe, Siya Kolisi, Piet van Zyl, Pat Lambie, Jan Serfontein.

Scotland – Peter Murchie; Tommy Seymour, Alex Dunbar, Matt Scott, Sean Lamont; Ruaridh Jackson, Greig Laidlaw; Johnnie Beattie, Ryan Wilson, Alasdair Strokosch; Jim Hamilton, Tim Swinson; Euan Murray, Scott Lawson, Alasdair Dickinson. Replacements: Steven Lawrie, Jon Welsh, Moray Low, Alastair Kellock, David Denton, Henry Pyrgos, Peter Horne, Duncan Taylor.

http://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2013-06-14-springboks-vs-scotland-meyer-hoping-for-repeat-performance/#.VnAFHEp97IU

Meyer shows flexibility & daring despite dark injury cloud 0

Posted on November 06, 2015 by Ken

 

For all the talk of a dark injury cloud hanging over South African rugby, Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer has still been able to name a squad full of exciting young talent for the quadrangular series that starts next weekend against Italy, Scotland and Samoa.

Saturday night might be all right for fighting, but Meyer’s announcement of his new 34-man squad at Newlands was met with far less criticism than much of what he did last year.

Perhaps it’s because Meyer has shown a flexibility and daring that did not seem to be part of his character during his safety-first initial year in charge.

The most obvious sign of this is the selection of Willie le Roux, the ultimate anti-structure player, someone who wears an 11 on his back for the Cheetahs but roams all over the field.

Le Roux is the epitome of the rugby gambler, he’s always looking first for the opportunity to try something attacking, and kicking, although a skill of his, is definitely a last-ditch option.

While Meyer has grasped the nettle and chosen the man who is the Cheetahs’ creative force, he seems a little nervous about what he might have unleashed upon his carefully structured team and admitted that he has had discussions with Le Roux about playing the percentages better.

“I had a great chat with Willie at the training camp. He brings the X-factor that you need at times, but there’s a fine line in Test rugby. You can bring the X-factor but you mustn’t give up tries because there’s an average difference of one try per game in Tests,” Meyer said.

The uncapped Le Roux is likely to be used at fullback, where Meyer’s resources have been plundered by injuries to JP Pietersen, Frans Steyn, Jaco Taute and Zane Kirchner, who is in the squad but unlikely to play until the final match.

“I’m going to look at playing Willie at 15, I love it when a fullback comes in behind the flyhalf like he does for the Cheetahs. We want to improve on attack and score more tries.

“I was very worried about fullback, but now we have options and I will definitely consider Pat Lambie and Gio Aplon there as well,” Meyer said.

Le Roux has skills that are normally seen only once in a blue moon on a rugby field, so even if Meyer involves him off the bench, he is going to bring a different dimension, and most notably more vision, to the Springbok backline.

It is pleasing as well to see some fresh blood introduced into the loose forward stocks in the form of Lappies Labuschagne and Siya Kolisi, both of whom have had major impacts in SuperRugby, for the Cheetahs and Stormers respectively.

While it is highly likely Francois Louw, Willem Alberts and Pierre Spies will form the starting loose trio, it is also probable that one of the uncapped trio of Labuschagne, Kolisi or Arno Botha will win a place on the bench alongside Marcell Coetzee.

The presence of utility backs such as Ruan Pienaar, Le Roux, JJ Engelbrecht, Lambie and Francois Hougaard in the squad means Meyer should be able to use a 6-2 split on the bench, with an entire front row now required due to the new IRB regulations.

It will be a daunting task for any team to front up to the big hits that Coenie Oosthuizen, Adriaan Strauss, Eben Etzebeth, Alberts, Spies, Tendai Mtawarira, Flip van der Merwe, Coetzee, Labuschagne, Kolisi and Botha routinely dish up. It is also what the Bulls have based their game plan on, and they are the in-form team in SuperRugby at the moment.

Saturday night’s squad announcement also tees up centre Jan Serfontein, loosehead prop Trevor Nyakane, scrumhalf Jano Vermaak, lock Pieter-Steph du Toit and tighthead prop Lourens Adriaanse for a Test debut over the next three weeks.

Jean de Villiers has been confirmed as the captain so he will either play at number 12 or number 13. If he plays at 13 – and the only other options are Engelbrecht and Juan de Jongh, who is still recovering from injury – then Serfontein is a shoe-in at inside centre.

He may only be 20 years old, but Serfontein has already stamped his presence in the Bulls’ midfield and he is a powerful, as well as dynamic, attacking force.

Meyer said he was delighted to be able to pick such talented youngsters.

“A lot of great, experienced Springboks are not in the squad, but I’m very happy to be able to pick these youngsters after very good SuperRugby form. We have to give players chances so that we prepare for the Rugby Championship, but still pick our best side for every Test. It’s about winning and being humble and not underestimating the opposition. But a couple of these youngsters deserve a start,” Meyer said.

Meyer said he had chosen an expanded squad of 34 players in order to prepare for the Rugby Championship against Southern Hemisphere rivals New Zealand, Australia and Argentina, which explains the presence of Bismarck du Plessis, De Jongh and Kirchner, all of whom have played next to no rugby in recent weeks and can’t realistically be expected to come straight back at Test level.
The Springbok coach said he aimed to back experience while still giving youth its head.

“This series is part of our preparation for the Rugby Championship, so I won’t be picking a different side every week. There will be new caps and it is a very young squad. But I also need to give players lots of Tests so they can reach 30 or 40 by the World Cup, so it’s a catch-22.

“I’ll probably go with experience to start, but with youngsters coming off the bench. I am loyal to performance and we’re going to have some great players in future,” Meyer said.

And he can say that again.

Squad: Willie le Roux, Gio Aplon, Zane Kirchner, Bryan Habana, Jean de Villiers, JJ Engelbrecht, Juan de Jongh, Jan Serfontein, Bjorn Basson, Lwazi Mvovo, Morné Steyn, Pat Lambie, Ruan Pienaar, Francois Hougaard, Jano Vermaak, Pierre Spies, Arno Botha, Willem Alberts, Lappies Labuschagné, Francois Louw, Marcell Coetzee, Siya Kolisi, Juandré Kruger, Eben Etzebeth, Flip van der Merwe, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Jannie du Plessis, Lourens Adriaanse, Adriaan Strauss, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Bismarck du Plessis, Coenie Oosthuizen, Tendai Mtawarira, Trevor Nyakane.

http://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2013-06-03-springbok-squad-safety-first-meyer-shows-flexibility-daring/#.VkCHoLcrLIU

Lee & Molinari lead Joburg Open after 2 rounds 0

Posted on February 07, 2014 by Ken

After being “pretty pathetic” on his two previous visits to South Africa, Scotland’s Craig Lee has a share of the Joburg Open lead after two rounds of the European Tour co-sanctioned event at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club.

Lee held a share of the lead after shooting a seven-under-par 65 on the East Course in the opening round and, after an intriguing day in Johannesburg’s eastern suburbs, he was still at the top after adding a 67 on the West Course on Friday, although now there is only one other golfer alongside him.

Italy’s Edoardo Molinari is the other man at the top of the leaderboard on 11-under-par, having shot a 68 on the East Course, while the other overnight leaders – Justin Walters and Alastair Forsyth – have both dropped back to nine-under-par.

“It’s my third time here and I don’t normally play well at all in South Africa, my record here is actually pretty pathetic, although it’s probably a course that should suit me.

“Obviously the goal today was not to fall back, there’s a strong field behind that will always come at you. On four-under through the bend I had a good chance to distance myself from the field, but I didn’t capitalise,” Lee said.

David Horsey of England fired a brilliant 63 on the West Course to soar to 10-under-par and a share of third place with George Coetzee, the leading South African who is finding his way back into top form after six weeks out with a broken wrist.

There are two other locals in the top 10, with Andrew Georgiou and Walters tied for fifth on nine-under-par with Danny Willett, Roope Kakko, Forsyth, James Heath and Jin Jeong.

The golfers are finding the West Course more of a challenge than in previous years and amongst the casualties on the supposedly easier 18 holes were two-time champion Charl Schwartzel, who could only shoot a 70 to make the cut on the mark at four-under.

Defending champion Richard Sterne, who also won the title in 2008, slumped to a 73 on the West Course and missed the cut by one stroke, while former SA Open winner James Kingston shot 75 and missed by six shots.

“The wind blew today which makes the West Course a bit tougher than usual and the greens more bumpy,” Coetzee said.

The 27-year-old has eight top-three finishes in the last three years on the European Tour but is still looking for his maiden title and he admits that the push for first place affected him negatively last year, when he finished 54th on the order of merit.

“Last year I tried to force it and my finishes went from good to worst, so that definitely doesn’t work. Now I’m just trying to get into contention, staying patient,” Coetzee said.

Coetzee has dropped just one shot over the first two rounds, so clearly the patient approach is paying dividends, but he was still hard on himself at the halfway stage.

“I’m still upset about that one shot! Just for once I’d like to go through a tournament with no bogeys. Plus it feels like you’ve dropped shots when you don’t make the most of opportunities, and I had a lot today, a lot of putts shaved the hole,” Coetzee said after shooting a 68.

“I felt I played a bit better yesterday, but I’m more or less where I want to be and looking forward to the weekend. It’s just a question of hitting fairways and making putts. Just hit a lot of good shots and hope the birdies come,” Coetzee said.

Horsey had an impressive haul of eight birdies, four on each nine, adding a 63 on Friday to his 70 in the first round and he said the difference was the putter being able to get the ball in the cup with minimum fuss.

“I played really nicely in the first round but the score didn’t do it justice. I went out with the same approach today and, even though there are some easier holes, I played it very similarly. I was a little bit more aggressive today, but I made a whole lot of putts and that was it, hey presto!”

But the in-form Molinari, a two-time winner on the European Tour, is in the pound seats at the moment: sharing the lead, feeling good and having the experience of having done the job before.

“It was another very good round of golf today, and I hit the ball very well. Maybe not as well as yesterday, but I gave myself a lot of chances, which is what you have to do around the East Course. I am very pleased with four-under today.

“It’s still two rounds to go, but I like the way I am hitting the ball. I made a few putts today, but the most important thing is to keep hitting the ball like this.

“I’m very happy with pretty much everything. I missed a few putts, but that always happens and the greens are not perfect, to be honest. I am very happy with my position and my game right now,” Molinari said.

One man who certainly wasn’t happy with his game was veteran Frenchman Thomas Levet.

After missing a one-foot putt for bogey on the eighth, he suffered a mental breakdown, hitting the ball off the green in the opposite direction to the hole, smashing a sand-wedge over the green and then, after a couple of other angry hacks at the ball, he inadvertently sunk a backhand sand-wedge.

Levet then stormed off the course for an early bath, citing a sore back.

He will surely find himself in hot water as the European Tour certainly don’t look kindly on such boorish behaviour.

 

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    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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