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Ken Borland

18-year-olds & seasoned veterans all in the race for SA hockey 0

Posted on May 29, 2017 by Ken


Featuring 18-year-olds to seasoned veterans, South Africa’s national men’s and women’s hockey squads for the year were announced on Thursday and are part of the South African Hockey Association’s planning through to next year’s Commonwealth Games and the race to regain as many of their world ranking points as they can.

Due to the loss of ranking points caused by not participating in last year’s Rio Olympics, South Africa’s women have slipped to 13th in the world rankings and the men are 15th. Nevertheless, South Africa will host the prestigious World League semi-finals for both men and women from July 3-24 and, with several top-10 nations taking part, even the smallest upset should improve their ranking.

Australia, Germany, Belgium, New Zealand, Ireland and Spain are the top-10 men’s sides coming to Johannesburg, while England, Argentina, the USA and Germany are the leading nations taking part in the women’s tournament.

A 25-strong women’s squad has been named and, even though there are no new caps, convenor of selectors Mickey Gordon explained that a structure had been put in place to improve the youth profile of the team.

“With a view to the World League Semi-Finals, the Africa Cup of Nations in August and the Commonwealth Games next April, and possibly the World Cup later in 2018, we have chosen a fairly long-term squad so we can look at selection from a consistent basis. We’ve set out to change the age profile because we have a lot of qualifying to do and these youngsters can gain experience.

“We will use all 25 players in the build-up to the next World Cup and we need to get youth into the squad. I sit on the U16 to U21 national selection panels as well in order to get some consistency. We want to grow our talent and if you look at world standards these days, then there is a predominance of youth,” Gordon said.

That does not mean experience is being thrown out the window though, and stalwarts of the South African side such as Nicolene Terblanche, Bernadette Coston, Sulette Damons, Ilse Davids and Shelley Jones (nee Russell) have all been included in the squad.

That applies to the men’s squad as well, with the likes of Rassie Pieterse, 34-year-old Julian Hykes, Jethro Eustice and Owen Mvimbi chosen alongside new cap Melrick Maddocks and 18-year-old Dayaan Cassiem.

There are nine members of the KZN Coastals team that won the recent IPT in the squad and national coach Fabian Gregory said it was the selectors’ intention that form be rewarded.

“KZN did exceptionally well to win IPT, playing well both as a group and with stand-out individual players. We wanted to send the correct message that IPT has not been watered down and we will reward form there. So Melrick is rewarded for being one of the top strikers there as is his team-mate Julian, who was the top goal-scorer for Southern Gauteng,” Gregory said.

The 43-year-old Gregory said he will cut the squad down from 21 to 18 for the World League Semi-Finals.

For both the men’s and women’s national squads, the next couple of years promise plenty of playing opportunities against the top nations in world hockey.

“Our world ranking being lower does not make things easier for us, but there is a total plan in place to rejuvenate our competitiveness. Not playing enough games is killing us due to a lack of sponsorship, but we have the talent, we just need to spend more time working together as a team,” Gordon said.

SA Womens Squad: Kirsty Adams (Boland), Stephanie Baxter (North-West), Kara Botes nee Stella (KZN Coastals), Nicole la Fleur (Western Province), Candice Manual (Western Province), Nicolene Terblance (Northerns Blues), Izelle Verster (Northerns Blues), Quanita Bobbs (Western Province), Bernadette Coston (Southern Gauteng), Sulette Damons (North-West), Ilse Davids (Western Province), (Lisa Deetlefs (Southern Gauteng), Lilian du Plessis (Southern Gauteng), Celia Evans (Northerns Blues), Tarryn Glasby (Western Province), Erin Hunter (KZN Coastals), Shelley Jones nee Russell (KZN Coastals), Marizen Marais (Northerns Blues), Jade Mayne (Western Province), Phumelela Mbande (Northerns Blues), Line Malan (Western Province), Jessica O’Connor (KZN Coastals), Carmen Smith (Southern Gauteng), Marelize van Tonder (Northerns Blues), Nicole Walraven (Free State).

SA Mens Squad: Rassie Pieterse (Southern Gauteng), Gowan Jones (KZN Coastals), Jethro Eustice (KZN Coastals), Robin Jones (KZN Coastals), Tyson Dlungwana (Southern Gauteng), Mohamed Mea (KZN Coastals), Jonty Robinson (KZN Coastals), Dan Sibbald (KZN Coastals), Reza Rosenburg (Southern Gauteng), Ryan Julius (Western Province), Clinton Panther (KZN Coastals), Owen Mvimbi (Southern Gauteng), Julian Hykes (Southern Gauteng), Ryan Crowe (Western Province), Nqobile Ntuli (KZN Coastals), Ignatius Malgraff  (Eastern Province), Dayaan Cassiem (Western Province), Richard Pautz (Northerns Blues), Tevin Kok (Northerns Blues), Melrick Maddocks (Southern Gauteng), Damien Kimfley (KZN Coastals).

Contrasting fortunes for two veteran leaders 0

Posted on September 16, 2015 by Ken


There were contrasting fortunes for the two veterans who posted the best first round scores on the East and West courses of Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club on Friday as overnight leader Nic Henning found himself out in the cold again, while Wallie Coetsee was sitting pretty at the top of the leaderboard for the Joburg Open.

Henning, who opened the tournament with a course record equalling 62 on the West Course, started well enough on Friday with a birdie on the East Course’s 472-metre par-five opening hole. But a horrible slab of four consecutive bogeys from the fifth hole put him under pressure and, although he birdied the 11th hole, a double-bogey at 13 derailed him once again and he finished with two more bogeys to shoot a 78 that left him way down the leaderboard.

So far down, in fact, that Henning (-3), the good news story of the first day, actually missed the cut, which was made on four-under-par, by one stroke.

While Henning sunk beneath the waves, Coetsee surfaced at the end of a cooler day in Linksfield with a one-shot lead as he backed up his brilliant first-round 66 on the East Course with a six-under-par 65 on the West Course to go to 12-under-par overall.

Beneath the 42-year-old South African on the leaderboard are three golfers on 11-under, compatriots Garth Mulroy and Tjaart van der Walt, and Englishman Simon Dyson, while Niclas Fasth and Anthony Wall are on 10-under.

Coetsee has been on tour since 1992 and, while he enjoys the quiet life in Jeffrey’s Bay, there is clearly still plenty of competitive fire burning in him as he started the year by getting an Asian Tour card through their gruelling qualifying school in Thailand.

The laidback winner of two Sunshine Tour events spends every evening after his round braaing and he says his relaxed approach helped him on Friday to not push too hard, especially during a run of seven successive pars that followed a bogey on the seventh hole.

“I was very patient and my game plan was just to leave the tough pins, go for the safer side. You can’t attack every flag, there’s a time to go and a time to be safe. Patience is the key, you can’t force things, it will happen,” Coetsee said.

“You live for the moment when you play well, and I must enjoy that, but I’m back to level-par tomorrow. I need to just stay in the present and tonight I’ll have another braai.”

The patient approach paid off for Coetsee when he eagled the par-five 15th and then another birdie on the par-four 17th gave him the lead.

“I’d had very good up-and-downs on 13 and 14, and then on 15 I hit a very good drive and had 218 metres to the flag. I hit a four-iron pin-high, five or six metres from the hole and sank the putt,” Coetsee explained.

Van der Walt is another old stager enjoying a wonderful tournament and he reached the turn on 12-under after picking up four birdies on the East Course, before running out of steam a bit on the back nine and settling for a 69.

Dyson also went to town on the front nine, with three successive birdies from the sixth hole setting him up for a 67.


Meyer adds Burger, Matfield & Brussow to his plans 0

Posted on May 19, 2014 by Ken

Victor Matfield has stormed his way back into the Springbok squad

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer on Monday added veterans Schalk Burger, Victor Matfield and Heinrich Brussow, as well as eight uncapped players, to his plans as he announced a 36-man squad to attend a national training camp in Durban from May 25 to 28.

The returns of Matfield – the second-most capped Springbok of all time with 110 Tests – and Burger (68 Tests) will provide an injury-hit South African team with plenty of experience as they head into a challenging series against Wales and another Rugby Championship campaign beyond that.

Hookers Scarra Ntubeni and Chiliboy Ralepelle, prop Frik Kirsten, locks Pieter-Steph du Toit and Franco van der Merwe, loose forwards Arno Botha and Pierre Spies, scrumhalf Louis Schreuder, utility backs Pat Lambie and Gio Aplon, and centre Jaque Fourie are all out with injury.

The 37-year-old Matfield made a controversial return to rugby this year, having last played in the 2011 World Cup, but has performed with aplomb for the Bulls, stamping his usual mark on the lineouts and also showing good work-rate.

With all the other locks in the squad – except for Flip van der Merwe – still making their way in international rugby, Matfield will be one of the adults amongst all the young, talented children and will have an important role in guiding them through the crucial year before the World Cup, which is often a fraught one for Springbok teams.

Schalk Burger can be satisfied with his return to action

Although Meyer is better off in terms of loose forward stocks, the return of Burger, who has shown glimpses of his old high-energy destructiveness for the Stormers, should be welcomed.

“Victor and Schalk have been out of rugby for a long time. They’ve really been in great form recently and the fact that they have not been with the Boks for more than two years has made them hungry for Test rugby yet again,” Meyer said.

“It’s great to welcome them back into the Springbok fold and I know both of them can still add a lot of value to the team with the Rugby World Cup in 2015 looming.

“This is a very big year for us and the players know they will have to step up a gear, be sharp and focused from the moment we get going in Durban. We have 14 very challenging matches ahead in 2014 and it’s imperative that we build on what was a good season last year.

“It’s important that we start building continuity because there are just 18 matches left until the Rugby World Cup starts. But it’s just as important to recognise continuous good form. We also have a number of players struggling with injury niggles or returning from injury which we have to assess.”

Heinrich Brussow will want to show he has the power-game to fit in with Meyer's plans

Meyer has made it clear before that he does not care for public pressure to select anyone, but the inclusion of Brussow will also be welcomed. Whether there is a place for the pocket dynamo in Meyer’s back row remains to be seen, however.

Duane Vermeulen and Willem Alberts are certainties for the number eight and seven jerseys, while Meyer is unlikely to jettison Bath’s Francois Louw (European-based players were not considered for this squad) after his superb displays for the Springboks last year.

Marcell Coetzee, Burger and Siya Kolisi are probably all ahead of Brussow in the queue as well, leaving him and Bulls rookie Jacques du Plessis, and even Cheetahs lock/flank Teboho Mohoje, to fight over scraps.

Meyer has kept the transformation police happy by selecting 10 players of colour, including six Black Africans, while the fresh blood in the squad is provided by centre/wing Damian de Allende, flyhalf Marnitz Boshoff, lock Lood de Jager, wing Cornal Hendricks, wing/centre S’Bura Sithole, flank Jacques du Plessis, lock/flank Teboho Mohoje and prop Marcel van der Merwe.

“A few new players have put up their hands, which is good to see with the first match of the season, against the World XV in Cape Town, only a few weeks away,” said Meyer.

“It’s very encouraging to see a bunch of new players emerging from Vodacom SuperRugby. This camp will provide us with a great opportunity to work with these players before the squad for the Castle Lager Incoming Series is finalised. I am looking forward to work with these players for the first time,” the coach said.

The contentious areas when it comes to the final selection of the squad for the incoming series would appear to be tighthead prop, lock, scrumhalf, centre and wing. Hooker is a worry in that only two have been named – Bismarck du Plessis and Adriaan Strauss – and while their quality is undeniable, Meyer will be terrified of one of them getting injured.

The Sharks front row of the two Du Plessis brothers and Tendai Mtawarira are certain starters, but who the back-up to old warhorse Jannie will be remains to be seen.

The Cheetahs scrum has laboured in recent weeks with Coenie Oosthuizen at tighthead and one hopes that the experiment is called off and the destructive 25-year-old is allowed to return to loosehead, particularly with the rise of the promising Frans Malherbe and Marcel van der Merwe in the number three jersey.

Flip van der Merwe, young star Eben Etzebeth and Matfield would appear to be certainties for the squad, but if a fourth lock is chosen, who will it be? Will Meyer once again call on Bakkies Botha, who seems to have regained the enthusiasm of his teen years while playing in France?

Fourie du Preez was typically influential in his five Tests last year and is surely the first-choice scrumhalf. Francois Hougaard was unimpressive when the Bulls were struggling overseas, but seems to be regaining some form in recent weeks.

Ruan Pienaar was nominated for the European Rugby Player of the Year award last month and will probably be the back-up to Du Preez.

Jean de Villiers was richly praised for both his captaincy and play at inside centre by Meyer last year, but the 2013 SA Rugby Player of the Year could be in for a move due to the return of Frans Steyn after a year of injuries.

Steyn was used exclusively in the number 12 jersey by Meyer in 2012 and it seems clear that Morne Steyn and Johan Goosen will be the Springbok flyhalves this year, so perhaps De Villiers will shift to outside centre to accommodate the 2007 World Cup winner and offer an exceptionally experienced midfield, even with Jaque Fourie likely to be out of action for the entire Test season with an ankle injury.

Willie le Roux looks set to continue as the Bok fullback, there being no other specialist contenders in the squad, while Sharks wing Lwazi Mvovo has deservedly been called up after an impressive SuperRugby campaign.

There is an abundance of outside-back talent for Meyer to choose from, with the classy JP Pietersen joined in the squad by Bulls talents JJ Engelbrecht and Jan Serfontein, the in-form De Allende and Juan de Jongh from the Stormers, Bjorn Basson, Cornal Hendricks and S’Bura Sithole.

Wing Bryan Habana, flank Francois Louw and scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar should all join the squad once they have been released from their European clubs, with prop Gurthro Steenkamp and lock Bakkies Botha also possibly on Meyer’s wish-list.

Where Meyer seems to be heading is the following final squad for the Incoming Series –

  • Fullback: Willie le Roux
  • Wings: JP Pietersen, Bryan Habana, Lwazi Mvovo, Bjorn Basson/Damian de Allende
  • Centres: Jean de Villiers, Frans Steyn, Jan Serfontein, JJ Engelbrecht
  • Flyhalves: Morne Steyn, Johan Goosen
  • Scrumhalves: Fourie du Preez, Ruan Pienaar, Francois Hougaard
  • Eighthman: Duane Vermeulen
  • Loose forwards: Willem Alberts, Francois Louw, Marcell Coetzee, Schalk Burger, Siya Kolisi
  • Locks: Flip van der Merwe, Eben Etzebeth, Victor Matfield, Bakkies Botha/Lood de Jager
  • Props: Jannie du Plessis, Tendai Mtawarira, Trevor Nyakane, Frans Malherbe/Coenie Oosthuizen/Gurthro Steenkamp
  • Hookers: Bismarck du Plessis, Adriaan Strauss

The players who can consider themselves unfortunate to have just missed out on the squad are Ryan Kankowski and Warren Whiteley, the form eighthmen in South Africa after Vermeulen, and Stormers loose forward Nizaam Carr, while Sharks scrumhalf Cobus Reinach and Bulls lock Paul Willemse are stars of the future whose time will surely come.

Springbok training squad: Willie le Roux, JP Pietersen, JJ Engelbrecht, Cornal Hendricks, S’Bura Sithole, Jean de Villiers, Jan Serfontein, Juan de Jongh, Frans Steyn, Damian de Allende, Lwazi Mvovo, Bjorn Basson, Johan Goosen, Marnitz Boshoff, Fourie du Preez, Francois Hougaard, Duane Vermeulen, Willem Alberts, Schalk Burger, Jacques du Plessis, Marcell Coetzee, Siya Kolisi, Heinrich Brussow, Flip van der Merwe, Victor Matfield, Eben Etzebeth, Lood de Jager, Teboho Mohoje, Jannie du Plessis, Frans Malherbe, Coenie Oosthuizen, Marcel van der Merwe, Bismarck du Plessis, Adriaan Strauss, Tendai Mtawarira, Trevor Nyakane.


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