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Ken Borland

Le Roux & Vermaak could start the spark for Springboks 0

Posted on April 20, 2016 by Ken


Coach Heyneke Meyer knows that he needs to add more attacking spark in year two of his tenure with the national team, and the two new caps chosen for the Test against Italy in Durban on Saturday could be the first steps in that process.

Cheetahs wizard Willie le Roux will start at fullback and Bulls scrumhalf Jano Vermaak in the number nine jersey, with three other uncapped players on the bench in prop Trevor Nyakane, loose forward Arno Botha and centre Jan Serfontein.

By the end of this quadrangular series also featuring Scotland and Samoa, we should know whether Le Roux’s roaming style of play and his dazzling trickery with ball in hand can be successful at Test level. It has certainly sparked something special for the Cheetahs and the 35 tries they have scored so far this season in SuperRugby is the best in the South African Conference and only the Chiefs, Waratahs and Rebels have scored more overall.

It is the Bulls, however, who are leading the South African Conference and it is in no small way thanks to Vermaak’s snappy clearing of the rucks and his speed off the mark on attack that they have 32 tries themselves and have impressed with the balance of their game between penetrative forward runners and a backline that is growing in confidence.

Replacement Ruan Pienaar may have been a star for Ulster again this year, but the 29-year-old has not been part of any of the Springbok training camps and Meyer said he had also gone for the established Morné Steyn/Vermaak combination at halfback.

This means there is no place for Francois Hougaard, even on the bench, with Pat Lambie and Serfontein the other backline reserves. Hougaard would appear to have paid the price for his scrappy service during a slow return from injury, although he was much-improved in the Bulls’ impressive win over the Cheetahs last weekend.

The 20-year-old Serfontein could even be in line for a start, coming in for Jean de Villiers at inside centre if the captain does not recover sufficiently from a hamstring niggle.

Meyer is well-known for his fondness for a big, strong ball-carrier at inside centre, but he has ignored, for the moment anyway, the exciting possibility of having the robust Serfontein at 12 and De Villiers at outside centre.

Instead, JJ Engelbrecht, who the jury is still out on (is he a better centre than a wing?) will wear the number 13 jersey having only played 10 previous minutes of Test rugby as a replacement on the wing against Argentina last year.

Bjorn Basson, so brilliant in the air, makes a return on the left wing to play his first Test since 2011, with the rest of the team pretty much as predicted.

Lourens Adriaanse, Gio Aplon, Marcell Coetzee, Robert Ebersohn, Bismarck du Plessis, Zane Kirchner, Siya Kolisi, Lappies Labuschagné, Lwazi Mvovo and Franco van der Merwe will be twiddling their thumbs next to Hougaard on the side of the field as Meyer goes for some continuity with 10 of the players who appeared in the last Test of 2012, the 16-15 win over England at Twickenham, featuring again this weekend.

The likes of Adriaanse, Aplon, Coetzee, Ebersohn, Kolisi, Labuschagné, Mvovo and Van der Merwe are likely to be given the opportunity of picking up some valuable experience later in the series, but for now Meyer wants to get his 2013 campaign up-and-running with a win over the tricky Italians.

Italian rugby is certainly on the up, as shown by a fourth-place finish in the Six Nations, and their physical pack has the ability to front up to the Springbok forwards.

But how pleasing it would be if it were the attacking skills of a Le Roux-inspired backline that proved the difference at King’s Park.

Team: Willie le Roux, Bryan Habana, JJ Engelbrecht, Jean de Villiers, Bjorn Basson, Morné Steyn, Jano Vermaak, Pierre Spies, Willem Alberts, Francois Louw, Juandré Kruger, Eben Etzebeth, Jannie du Plessis, Adriaan Strauss, Tendai Mtawarira. Replacements: Chiliboy Ralepelle, Trevor Nyakane, Coenie Oosthuizen, Flip van der Merwe, Arno Botha, Ruan Pienaar, Pat Lambie, Jan Serfontein.

Going into World Cup with confidence is crucial – Domingo 0

Posted on May 14, 2014 by Ken

Jacques Kallis in full ODI flow - what SA coach Russell Domingo will want to see

Going into the tournament with confidence is one of the laws of success in the World Cup, according to South Africa coach Russell Domingo, and he has already mapped out his plans for a summer that could be the making of his tenure in charge of the Proteas.

“Confidence going into the World Cup is always vital. Playing well throughout the year leading up to the tournament is probably more important than anything else.

“If you’re losing a lot beforehand, then you have to make changes in personnel or strategy just before the tournament, which is never ideal. The players need to feel comfortable in the strategy you’re going to use,” Domingo said after his presentation to the country’s leading coaches at the CSA Level IV Coaching Conference at the High Performance Centre yesterday.

One of the strategies which Domingo believes will be highly applicable in the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand from next February is the use of bouncers, while he defended the Proteas’ scarce use of yorkers.

“How many bouncers you use depends on the opposition and the pitches, but it’s a very useful weapon. Someone like Kumar Sangakkara ducks just about every bouncer so those are dot-balls.

“The stats show that a wide yorker is very hittable if you just miss your length. Very few people bowl six yorkers an over at the death, even Lasith Malinga, who has the best yorker of anyone, doesn’t bowl it  every time.

“Predictability is very dangerous at the end of the innings, you can’t just bowl yorkers, you have to mix up your deliveries. The short ball is very important in this regard because it causes doubt and fear in the minds of batsmen, and cause them to get into strange positions sometimes as well,” Domingo said.

South Africa coach Russell Domingo

Although Jacques Kallis has halved his cricketing commitments, Domingo said the great all-rounder was still an integral part of their plans for the World Cup. There is no doubt that, used in the top-order to set up the innings, Kallis can be a batting kingpin for South Africa, while he is also still good for a few overs as well.

But in order for the team’s planning to be complete by the time they begin their World Cup challenge against Zimbabwe in Hamilton on February 15, Kallis is going to have to play most of South Africa’s ODIs in the next nine months.

“We have 24 ODIs before the World Cup, but to ask Jacques to play in all of those is unrealistic. But he’ll definitely be needed to play in the vast majority of those because we have to develop a strategy for playing with Jacques Kallis. We have to incorporate him back into the team and it effects the balance – we could play seven batsmen instead of six batsmen and an all-rounder. It’s a different dynamic because we’ve developed a strategy for playing without Jacques Kallis in recent times,” Domingo said.

AB de Villiers was just an eight-year-old child when the World Cup was last held in Australasia in 1992, the wonder of South Africa’s return to the international fold turning to dismay when poor rain rules ended their dream run at the semi-final stage and started a seeming curse for the team in that tournament that they have yet to shake off.

De Villiers will almost certainly be the captain of South Africa’s World Cup squad this time around, and he is also the favourite to inherit Graeme Smith’s Test captaincy.

“The captaincy is not cut-and-dried and there are some really good options. It would be a tough ask for AB to be captain, keep wicket and be a key batsman, and the selectors will take that into cognisance. I have input with the selectors and then their recommendation goes to the board, who make the final decision,” Domingo said while trying to throw journalists off the scent.

But he possibly let slip his feelings on the matter when he said: “It’s going to be a big challenge for the new leader to step up and fill the massive void that Graeme has left. But the maturity of the Test side will enable him to do it and senior guys like Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, JP Duminy, Faf du Plessis and Hashim Amla know that a new leader is coming in and will bring different ideas to the team.”

South Africa have been offenders before when it comes to going into World Cups without covering all their bases, but with the domestic competitions arranged to help their planning and a limited-overs tour to New Zealand and Australia in October/November, they should not want for preparation.

“I’ll be looking for consistency in selection and strategies, and hopefully we’ll have settled on our combination and the style we want to play. The last 10 ODIs before the World Cup, I’ll look to play the best XI as much as possible.

“We have a pretty good idea of the 15 we want, but it would be naïve to think all 15 of those will make the World Cup because of injuries, loss of form or a domestic player shooting the lights out and putting his name in the hat,” Domingo said.



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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.
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    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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