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Ken Borland

The Springboks still believe – Kriel 0

Posted on December 02, 2016 by Ken


Springbok utility back Jesse Kriel has implored the South African public to still believe in the national team because the squad themselves are still positive, despite their dreadful results on a torrid European tour.

“The mood is still good in the squad, I know people have been really hurt by the results, but the team has always been positive. They’re still putting their bodies on the line and there are just small things in terms of the game-plan and individual errors that we need to get right,” Kriel said at the Bulls player awards evening, having returned early from the Springbok tour due to a leg injury.

“No-one accepts losing but there have just been small things, little errors, that have led to the Springboks being up against it. For us, winning matches is our pride and joy, our bread and butter, so it’s been difficult for us. We’ve learnt a lot out of this, but there comes a point when you can’t learn anymore, you have to actually start winning.

“Allister has chosen a new-look side for this weekend and it’s a great opportunity for the younger guys who are really hungry, a great opportunity for them to go out and prove they belong there. And having the overseas players back was a massive positive as well, they bring experience and calm heads,” Kriel said.

And captain and Bulls team-mate Adriaan Strauss, who will be playing in his 66th and final Test against Wales, was singled out for special praise by the 22-year-old.

“I just wish people could see behind the scenes because Adriaan has done so much and he never wants any credit or recognition. He’s very humble and full of selflessness and always puts his body on the line, even though I know he has a very sore back at the moment. I can assure people he’s not just selected because he’s captain. I know it would be the last thing Adriaan wants for the team to make this weekend’s game about him, but everyone has so much respect for him that the guys will want to,” Kriel said.

Kriel has now played 16 Tests and 31 Super Rugby matches and is eager to play more of a leadership role himself next year.

“I spoke to Nollis Marais [Bulls coach] and I told him I want to be a big part of the team, I want to contribute a lot to the team. So I want to start the year with no niggles and be in top condition. I still have to chat to the coach about where he wants to play me, but I think it will be fullback, where I started two years ago. I don’t mind that and there’s a lot of competition in the backline, so I have to prove my worth.

“When I started playing for the Bulls, a guy like Victor Matfield was still around and there was a lot of experience in the side, guys you could look up to when things were not going well. I’ve got to be one of those players now when things don’t go well because I’ve got a bit of experience now.

“But it all comes down to performance, we’ve been building a good team and it’s time to get back the glory years. We all get sick of hearing the word ‘building’, we must get results now and trophies, that is what we all want. Talk is cheap and money buys the whiskey.”


Cooper’s attack no distraction – Ashley-Cooper 0

Posted on October 11, 2012 by Ken

Australia utility back Adam Ashley-Cooper said on Monday that injured flyhalf Quade Cooper’s comments on the squad, in which he roasted the camp for having a “toxic environment”, would not be a distraction as the Wallabies prepare for their Rugby Championship Test against South Africa in Pretoria on Saturday.

“There’s a lot of people who are afraid to say what they feel so they just go along with it and nothing is going to change,” Cooper told Australian Associated Press at the weekend. “That’s why I feel so strongly as a player. I don’t want to be involved in the toxic environment, and that’s how it is at the moment.”

Cooper has also tweeted his displeasure at Wallabies coach Robbie Deans’ game plan, saying he was only allowed to play the attacking brand of rugby he favours from “February to May” at the Queensland Reds in SuperRugby.

But Ashley-Cooper said there was a very convivial mood in the Wallabies camp.

“I’m not aware of what the tweets are saying, but you can’t ignore social media, it’s a big part of the game. But it won’t be a distraction for us.

“There’s a great buzz in the squad and we’re excited to be here. We’ve had two good wins and we feel that we’re building as a group,” Ashley-Cooper told a news conference in Johannesburg on Monday.

While Australia have come from behind to win their last two Tests, against South Africa and Argentina, Deans is still under enormous pressure at home, mainly due to his record of just two wins in his last 16 matches against the All Blacks for the Bledisloe Cup.

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer is also feeling the heat with his team managing just a win and a draw against Argentina thus far in the Rugby Championship.

“I think the Springboks are facing similar challenges to us with a lot of injuries and having to give opportunities to younger blokes. But those youngsters bring a lot of enthusiasm and energy which the older guys can feed off.

“The Springboks are coming off two disappointing losses so they’ll be pretty motivated and we expect it to be really tough to win in Pretoria.

“The challenge is greater for us away from home, we have two really tough games on a pretty tough trip and with the travel conditions added in, so there’s no room for complacency,” Ashley-Cooper said.

The 28-year-old veteran of 71Tests and numerous SuperRugby games against the Pretoria-based Bulls said Loftus Versfeld would not be a place for the faint-hearted on Saturday.

“Playing at Loftus is always pretty tough, you’re usually up against quality opposition there and a hostile crowd that they feed off. Plus the altitude and the pace of the game there means it’s always a challenge. A win is something we’ve never achieved before in Pretoria, we came close in 2010 [31-44], so there’s a lot of motivation for us,” Ashley-Cooper said.

Australia’s coaching co-ordinator, Tony McGahan, said despite criticism that the Springboks’ game plan was dull and conservative in comparison to the Wallabies’, every top international team employed similar tactics.

“Generally, most sides have the same principles with just small variations from week-to-week depending on the opposition and the conditions. But the core values are set in stone.

“You need a bit of both possession and territory. You use possession to gain territory and that’s how you control the scoreboard, converting field position into points. It will continue to be that way in test rugby.

“There will be more cause to have a penalty against you when you’re running the ball out of your own half, but you tend to get more favour from possession on attack. It also depends on the quality of your possession,” McGahan said.

Australia will name their team for Saturday’s Test on Thursday, while South Africa’s squad will be announced on Wednesday.


Kirchner’s knee rules him out of 2nd test 0

Posted on June 12, 2012 by Ken

South Africa fullback Zane Kirchner has been ruled out of the second Test against England and Stormers utility back Gio Aplon has been called up into the Springbok squad to replace him, team management announced on Monday.
Kirchner injured his knee during the 22-17 first Test victory in Durban last weekend and was unable to take the field for the second half. The 27-year-old had a scan on Monday morning and, according to a statement released by team management, “it was decided that he would not be considered for the second Test”, in Johannesburg on Saturday.
The statement said Kirchner’s knee would be checked again next week ahead of the final Test in Port Elizabeth on June 23.
Aplon was one of the original 42-man Springbok training squad announced last month and was considered a controversial omission from the final squad, having starred for the Stormers en route to the top of the South African SuperRugby conference and having played in last year’s World Cup.
The diminutive Aplon [1.75m, 78kg] has played 16 Tests and his omission caused a storm of protest in his home city of Cape Town.
Kirchner is likely to be replaced in the starting line-up by Sharks utility back Pat Lambie, who slotted in well at fullback in the second half of the first Test. Aplon has the ability to play both fullback and wing.

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer said on Monday that although Lambie was a quality replacement, fullback was a specialist position that would require some thought.

“Obviously Pat is a great fullback and he had a good second half, I was happy with his performance. Obviously he’s one of the guys who has played there before and it’s easy to use the group system, that’s helpful. But it’s always tough losing a fullback because it means you need a specialist reserve,” Meyer said.

South Africa’s other injury concern is prop Coenie Oosthuizen, who can play on either side of the front five and came off the bench in Durban.
Oosthuizen experienced pain in his shoulder and neck region on Monday morning and Bulls prop Dean Greyling has been called up as cover.

Meyer said Oosthuizen’s potential unavailability after earning his first test cap, would seriously complicate matters because he wants to go into the match with a prop on the bench who is comfortable with playing both loosehead and tighthead prop.
Greyling, 26 years old, has played Two tests, both 11 months ago when South Africa sent a weakened team to the away leg of the Tri-Nations in Australia and New Zealand.

Meyer also praised England for their defence in the first Test and said it had been hard for the Springboks to get their game-plan going.

“Our scrumhalf, Francois Hougaard, struggled a little bit because a lot of guys up front haven’t fitted in together before and didn’t provide him enough protection. That’s rustiness and we worked on that today, but credit to England because they pressed hard in midfield. They’re a quality side and their defence was good,” Meyer said.

“England were awesome at times, they showed great defence and great discipline and you can not go into a comfort zone against that sort of quality. They don’t give up like a lot of other teams give up and they came right at the end.”

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