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Ken Borland



‘You can’t ask for much better’ – Gibson 0

Posted on November 01, 2017 by Ken

 

“When you come in as a new coach, you can’t ask for much better,” Proteas mentor Ottis Gibson said on Monday when asked how he rated South Africa’s performance in their triple-series sweep over Bangladesh that was completed over the weekend.

“When you consider the way we played, I’d like to give the team more than 10/10. It’s gone really well. I know there’s been a lot of talk about the opposition, but we were able to play dominating, front-foot cricket, while also unearthing some new talent like Aiden Markram and Wiaan Mulder.

“We played the way we wanted to play, we were able to go out and do that, and there’s been a very positive and relaxed vibe in the changeroom. I’ve built up a really nice relationship with Faf du Plessis, he’s honest and very passionate about representing and leading his country. We speak with the same voice and he’s been a very good sounding board,” Gibson said.

The former West Indies fast bowler confirmed that he will be looking after the specialist pace bowling coaching from now on, and he can rest easy that the batsmen are back on the right track given how well they have started the summer with runs aplenty.

“The batting was a huge positive, because there were a lot of questions asked about it in England, they had a tough time in tough conditions that they weren’t accustomed to. I would hope that their confidence is back now because we have scored 10 hundreds across the different formats. It says a lot for the ability and talent of the batsmen that they’ve been able to go out and dominate.”

Gibson said he would still be employing four other back-up coaches – an assistant, and specialist batting, field and spin-bowling consultants.

“It’s quite likely that there will be new faces, I will do the fast bowling myself and I’ve spoken to Charl Langeveldt about that. I’ve given Cricket South Africa my wish-list, guys who I believe can add value, and they now have to make that happen.

“I want to make more use of guys who are working in South Africa, I want to use the franchise system so that those guys can continue with the work if I leave. So there will be four guys plus myself, some key positions that I hope can make a real difference to the country. But I also want to set up a lead bowling and batting coach for the country as a whole, a person who can tell me who the next best fast bowler is, for instance,” Gibson said.

Sharks Currie Cup coaches licking their lips 0

Posted on March 22, 2017 by Ken

 

“You must be licking your lips!” Sharks director of rugby Gary Gold told his assistant coaches, Sean Everitt and Ryan Strudwick, when he introduced the Currie Cup coaching team at a pre-tournament press conference in Durban on Wednesday.

Everitt, who has been part of the Sharks’ coaching structures for nearly a decade, will look after the backline and Gold said he was particularly excited by the quality players available in that department.

“We have such an exciting backline with Andre Esterhuizen who played so well, S’bura Sithole played very well, Odwa Ndungane I thought was very good; to name a few. We have a really good balance this year with a little bit of experience but a lot of youth. We also have the SA U20 players coming back in. It’s exciting times at the moment, Michael Claassens has been very impressive, likewise Joe Pietersen,” Gold said.

Mobility is what stood out for Gold in terms of the forward pack.

“If you take just one position, Etienne Oosthuizen will go to second row and he’s played back row in Super Rugby. You have those kinds of mobile players in the second row which can only stand you in good stead. Then there’s Philip van der Walt, Jean-Luc and Daniel du Preez, Khaya Majola, Jean Deysel to pick from in the back row, we have quite a mobile team. I think it can lead to some exciting rugby.

“I’m very excited about the team, about the balance between the young players who are so enthusiastic and a couple of older guys we have, like Deysel and Marco Wentzel. Philip van der Walt has joined us now and he’s looked particularly impressive too,” Gold said.

Gold also expounded the merits of his assistant coaches.

“It made perfect sense for Ryan Strudwick to step up. His experience speaks volumes, not only did we work together in the UK at London Irish, he was our captain and we won trophies together, but he’s also been an outstanding coach in KZN for a number of years, recently winning the Varsity Shield. For me it’s a very exciting prospect to take Durban boys and be able to bring them through.

“Sean Everitt’s experience is fantastic, he was a rock in the Super Rugby competition, he’s coached at club level and been successful there, and he’s done very well with the juniors. It’s great continuity to be able to bring these guys through and I’m very excited for this Currie Cup campaign,” Gold said.

Back to school for Saru, who look set to fail again 0

Posted on February 13, 2017 by Ken

 

If the South African Rugby Union were a kid, based on their 2016 performance they would be the one who failed to pass their grade and has to repeat the year, hopefully being shamed into harder work and improvement by the embarrassment of sitting in a class with a bunch of people a year younger than you.

Unfortunately, if I was their teacher in that school, I would be forced to conclude already at this early stage of the year that Saru are doomed to fail again because they are simply repeating the same mistakes.

We are two weeks away from the start of Super Rugby and we still don’t know yet whether Allister Coetzee will continue in his post as Springbok coach. If he does – and that looks likely given how tardy Saru have once again been in sorting out their most important appointment (apart from arguably the CEO, who has done another of his disappearing tricks) – then Coetzee will once again find his planning set back by an administration that seems intent on tying one hand behind his back.

The contracts are apparently in place and the official announcement is supposed to be made in the next week, but we’ve heard that line before.

There is another vital appointment that Saru is also dragging its feet over and one that just creates enormous uncertainty amongst the best junior talent in this country and their parents, many of whom are probably sitting on offers from overseas.

Dawie Theron finished his tenure as national U20 coach in June and a replacement has still not been named. There is a great candidate – both in terms of the success he has achieved with young rugby players and the tremendous transformation message it would send – sitting in Potchefstroom by the name of Jonathan Mokuena, previously a manager of the Junior Springboks side, a winner of the Varsity Cup and a successful coach of the Leopards senior team.

But instead there are strong suggestions Abe Davids, the brother of Saru vice-president Francois Davids, is being lined up for the job.

Former traffic cop Francois Davids is also the president of Boland rugby, the union which suspended Abe Davids in 2014 for faking his coaching qualifications, and has been accused of such nepotism by the clubs in the area that the administration was called the “House of Davids”.

The only good news coming out of Saru lately  is that they have invested in getting Brendan Venter back involved with the Springboks. With him and Franco Smith, working with Matt Proudfoot and Johann van Graan, Coetzee will finally have back-up staff worthy of the Springboks.

Of course the name of Rassie Erasmus still pops up from time to time and the former Springbok and director of rugby has put in a lot of time and effort in plotting his coaching career-path. A leading Afrikaans Sunday newspaper seems be the PR company for his ambitions.

While the dithering and politicking carries on in the Saru boardroom, the All Blacks have already held their first camp together and the gap just widens. One would hope the news that the Springboks could be ranked as low as seventh after the next round of Six Nations matches would shock Saru into decisive action, but the wheels of their bureaucracy turn with the speed of a sloth.

 

Boks could not have hoped for better workout at start of season 0

Posted on December 11, 2015 by Ken

 

You could not have hoped for a much better workout at the start of the season than the Springboks enjoyed in their 44-10 victory over Italy at Kings Park in Durban.

Some top-class attacking play led to five tries and even the defence was subjected to a stern examination in the second and third quarters, with the Italians only managing to score one try despite enjoying the vast majority of possession.

While a handful of debutants made exciting starts to their international careers, it was a veteran in the form of Bryan Habana who stole the limelight with a magnificent performance.

He scored a great individual try in the 67th minute as the Springboks, unusually for them, threw turnover ball wide more in hope than expectation, but Habana turned on the afterburners and raced through half the Italian side as the hosts finally shifted the momentum after half an hour of defending.

While Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer rightfully pointed to a slackening in the intensity of the defence, credit must also be given to Italy for finally putting a premium on possession and hanging on to the ball for long periods.

They enjoyed an astonishing 97% of possession in the first nine minutes of the second half but, even with Bjorn Basson in the sin-bin for a high tackle, they could only cross the tryline once, through centre Alberto Sgarbi from close range.

But the Springboks had attacking firepower aplenty in their backline, with debutant scrumhalf Jano Vermaak providing crisp service, JJ Engelbrecht impressing with his pace and direct running at outside centre and new fullback Willie le Roux showing some lovely touches.

But as Meyer said afterwards, it was the pace – displayed especially by wings Habana and Basson – that had most pleased him.

“I was very happy with the guys and thought they played well. Willie le Roux showed a lot of pace, and so did JJ and Bjorn Basson. It’s great to have extra pace out wide, and I think Bryan Habana fed off that,” Meyer said.

As the Rugby Championship looms, it is encouraging to see the Springboks fielding a back three that can match the All Blacks, who are always the benchmark when it comes to counter-attacking rugby.

Habana was particularly potent as a counter-attacking force off several stupid kicks by the Italians, and it was his sheer pace after fielding an errant kick that set up Engelbrecht for his 23rd-minute try.

It also helps when your flyhalf has as prodigious a boot as Morné Steyn, who kicked immaculately to collect 19 points through five conversions and three penalties. The massive clearing kick he unleashed in the 64th minute also broke the shackles and led directly to the penalty that captain Jean de Villiers said had been the turning point of the second half.

Meyer wants to give game time to as many of his squad as possible in this quadrangular series, but he also has to ensure the momentum gained in Durban is not disrupted.

“I want to try a few guys so there will be a few changes for next week but I will try and keep the core of the team together,” said Meyer.

The loss of Vermaak with a torn hamstring is a blow after his encouraging start, and Piet van Zyl, one of the stars of the Cheetahs team, has been called up. Ruan Pienaar, who came off the bench in Durban, is the obvious man to start against Scotland in Nelspruit next weekend, but whether Meyer will utilise the game-breaking skills of Francois Hougaard as the replacement scrumhalf remains to be seen. The media speculation about his role in the Oscar Pistorius case must be weighing heavily on the young man’s mind.

Scotland succumbed to the huge physicality of the Samoans in losing 17-27 in the early game at King’s Park and the bad news for them is that they can expect more of the same from the Springboks.

With the added threat of clinical finishing, thanks to all that pace out wide to make use of the front-foot ball.

http://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2013-06-10-boks-vs-italy-wrap-meyers-defence-tested-in-5-try-romp-to-victory/#.VmsCLkp97IU



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