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Ken Borland

Simelane is on a mission to gather as much proficiency in all facets of the game as he can 0

Posted on October 18, 2022 by Ken

Wandisile Simelane has a burning desire to improve his game in all facets and his time with the extended Springbok squad last year and his move to the Bulls for the 2022/23 season have been used as a means to gather as much proficiency as he can.

Simelane has long been considered as one of the country’s brightest young talents and his selection for the initial 46-man squad for the British and Irish Lions series raised hopes of him making his Springbok debut.

In the end the established and world-class pairing of Lukhanyo Am and Damian de Allende did South Africa proud, but Simelane soaked up the atmosphere and the learnings to be gained at elite level.

“I learnt a lot, and I realised I need to get better in every aspect of my game, including things like work-rate, training and just being in that environment,” Simelane told The Citizen.

“It really helped me both as an individual and as a rugby player. Just being around Lukhanyo Am, who is one of the best No.13s in the world, you put yourself at a disadvantage if you don’t learn from him.

“He is an inspiration and a role-model to me, and there were others too like Jesse Kriel, Frans Steyn and Damian de Allende, who are great centres. You take bits and pieces from everyone and add it to your own game.

“I’ve always believed every rugby player in South Africa should aspire to play for the Springboks, and hopefully I’ll be back there sooner rather than later. It’s definitely my number one goal,” Simelane said.

While the 24-year-old did not want to go into the reasons why he left the Gauteng Lions this year, there was a sense among neutral observers that his game did not grow at Ellis Park, the Lions did not make the best use of him, over the last year, and playing in an exciting Bulls backline featuring Springboks in Embrose Papier, Morne Steyn, Lionel Mapoe, Cornal Hendricks, Kurt-Lee Arendse, Sbu Nkosi, Johan Goosen and now Canan Moodie, could see Simelane fulfil his potential in the coming season.

Apart from all that star quality and wise old heads, Simelane, as a Jeppe High old boy, was also delighted to come under the wing of school legend Jake White, and also get the chance to play alongside Nkosi, Jeppe’s most recent Springbok.

“Jake winning the World Cup in 2007 was a massive achievement and knowing he’s a Jeppe old boy, he’s a great hero at the school and in South African rugby generally,” Simelane said.

“When the opportunity came to be coached by him at the Bulls, I didn’t think twice. I can gain so much knowledge from him.

“Unfortunately, when Sbu played first XV at Jeppe, I was still U16 and I missed playing with him by one year,” Simelane said.

As fate would have it, the Bulls’ opening United Rugby Championship fixture this season is against the Lions at Ellis Park on September 17, but the Johannesburg-born player will not be focusing on the unhappy memories of his previous home.

“I’m definitely excited to start the season and I’m looking at it as my first game for the Bulls and not the first match I will play against the Lions.”

The Lions tended to shift Simelane away from the midfield and play him on the wing, but he said this was not the cause of his unhappiness.

“I don’t mind at all, I don’t care if I play wing, centre or fullback, as long as I am in the team. It doesn’t bother me much. Number 13 is my main position, my number one choice, where I want to be a specialist.”

The defensive nous required to be a world-class outside centre will no doubt come with more experience, but what Simelane already possesses are the feet of a magician.

“I guess it’s just natural instinct, it’s something that gets better and better the more I play, since my school days. But the key is to keep working on it,” Simelane, who first started playing rugby in Grade V at Dalmondeor Primary in Johannesburg South, said.

He is a nightmare to defend against if he’s in space because of his ability to not only beat the man with a late sidestep, but also his passing skills. Many of his team-mates have profited from delayed ball that has put them right through the gap.

“To make the most of space, I like to use the pass also. It depends on how you analyse different players, what you want to achieve as a team and also your feel for the game.

“The more I put myself in those situations in training, the more I will make the right decisions. It’s something I’ve had to work hard on too,” Simelane said.

Simelane will be 25 when the next World Cup is played and then the Springboks will surely enter a new cycle in terms of personnel. Hopefully the selectors don’t leave it too late to introduce him to the international stage that seems to be his destiny.

Fourie has been around for a while, but he has always had a burning desire to play for the Boks 0

Posted on August 08, 2022 by Ken

Deon Fourie has been around South African rugby for a while, making his senior debut for Western Province in 2005, and he also played in France for seven years with Lyon and Grenoble, but the 35-year-old Stormers hero has always had a burning desire to be chosen for the Springboks.

Following his sensational displays in leading the Stormers to the United Rugby Championship title, he was selected to the Springbok squad for the first time, alongside seven other uncapped players.

On Thursday, the utility forward had completed his first week of training with the Springboks and his face, battered as it has been this season from all his tremendous efforts at the breakdown, was beaming.

“The intensity is way higher up than at provincial level, and, at the age of 35, it takes me longer to get up and running and I’m feeling it a bit,” Fourie smiled at their Pretoria hotel.

“Some guys have waited 22 years for their dream to come true, but for me it’s been 35 years. So it’s just great to be here and to realise my dream,” he said.

Fourie’s Stormers team-mate Evan Roos, also immense in the URC triumph, is 22 years old and perhaps who the elder statesman was referring to.

“This is a boyhood dream come true,” Roos said. “I watched most of these guys growing up, so it feels a bit surreal to be in the same squad as them now.

“But I’m excited about working hard on my game and making sure the important little things get better,” Roos said.

While new faces certainly bring an injection of energy and fresh ideas into a squad, it is a universal truth in rugby that experience is vital at international level.

And Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber said that, coupled with a burning desire to restore their pride, will make Wales dangerous opponents in South Africa’s first three Tests of the year, starting on July 2 at Loftus Versfeld.

“We have an average of 26 caps per player, while Wales has 36 so they have experienced players who have been there before,” Nienaber said. “Their clubs also didn’t make the playoffs in the URC, so they have had a nice month to prepare.

“I’m not sure if they are pushing the restart button from the Six Nations, but I know from 2018 when we were desperate that you do desperate things. We changed our defensive system and the way we kick.

“They have had a lot of negative publicity, a desperate team is always dangerous and it is always a tough battle against Wales. Coach Wayne Pivac said their mission was to win a Test in South Africa for the first time.

“So we will prepare for what we think will come our way, but we will have to adapt on the field, do it on the run. We’re going to have to be unbelievably solutions-driven,” Nienaber said.

Five weeks of intense cricket that will keep CSA’s candle wicks burning 0

Posted on January 17, 2022 by Ken

So the mighty Indian team will indeed be gracing our fields for five weeks of what should not only be intense cricket for the Proteas but a timely financial boost that will help the constrained Cricket South Africa administrators keep the candle wicks burning.

While one hopes the Proteas are able to make it a hotly contested series, there is no doubt that in terms of global boardroom politics, CSA are in a much weaker position than the Board of Control for Cricket in India.

Of course South African cricket are eternally grateful for India agreeing to honour their commitment to tour when it looked likely that the Omicron variant of Covid would snuff out the tour.

But hopefully that gratitude does not express itself in timidity which allows the BCCI to bully or ride roughshod over South African cricket.

India have been calling the tune in world cricket for a while now, deservedly so when one considers they bring the most money into the game, but there will come a time when CSA have to stand up for their rights.

India are so used to everyone just kowtowing to them that there are occasions when they take a chance and push the boundaries of fair play.

One such occasion occurred this week in Bloemfontein, where their A team, to whom we are also extremely grateful for completing their series against SA A, displayed some incredibly frustrating time-wasting techniques and skullduggery.

As soon as the SA A team, trailing by just eight runs on first innings, made a solid start to their second innings, reaching 89/1 at tea on the third day, India began to ensure much time was taken out of the game.

In the two-and-a-half hour session after tea, they bowled just 26 overs as their bowlers crawled through their deliveries. Field settings were regularly tampered with and then returned to what they were, and every couple of overs, one of the Indian players would go to ground roaring and writhing in agony. The physiotherapist spent so much time on the field he should have been in the starting line-up.

The responsibility in those circumstances lies with the umpires and match referee to ensure the game is played in the right spirit, and there are laws, penalty runs and fines at their disposal to help them do it.

But this is India, who are doing South African cricket a massive favour remember, so there was a decided reluctance to ruffle any feathers.

The Test series against India is likely to have South African umpires due to the problems of travelling in these times of Covid, and one hopes the International Cricket Council devolve enough power to those officials so that they are seen to be representing the ICC and not CSA.

Otherwise they may not feel empowered enough to make tough calls against India should the need arise.

Hopefully we will be spared any controversy though, and will just be able to enjoy the fine cricket we know both teams are capable of producing. Given the aggressive fast bowlers South Africa have at their disposal, and India’s ability to fight fire with fire, there will certainly be some feisty action.

Which is fine, as long as that mysterious, difficult to quantify, line between competitiveness and unsporting behaviour is not crossed.

But anyone who watches this intriguing series will also be expecting two very passionate teams to sometimes get very close to that line.

I say bring it on!

Bulls will bring a top-class pack & a desire for more tries – Ludeke 0

Posted on January 05, 2015 by Ken


The Bulls will bring a top-class pack, a backline studded with great young talent and a burning desire to score more tries into next year’s SuperRugby competition, according to coach Frans Ludeke.

A difficult 2013 saw the Bulls finish in ninth place, one win off the playoffs, while their Currie Cup campaign ended in the semi-finals against eventual champions Western Province.

Ludeke said yesterday that a review of the season had provided a clear indication that the Bulls needed to change their game plan.

“Since 2009, the team that has scored the most tries in the competition has won SuperRugby, so we clearly need to have a new shape to our play, we need to score more tries. Bonus points are also crucial in getting you that home semi-final,” Ludeke told The Citizen.

The exciting Handre Pollard will spearhead that effort from flyhalf and the Bulls have plenty of depth in midfield with Jan Serfontein, JJ Engelbrecht, Burger Odendaal (the find of the Currie Cup) and William Small-Smith, and two experienced wings in Akona Ndungane and Bjorn Basson.

Jesse Kriel is an exciting young talent at fullback, where he will be competing with Ulrich Beyers and Jurgen Visser for the number 15 jersey.

Although the emphasis will be on scoring more tries, Ludeke said they will continue to use their traditional strengths of powerful ball-carrying forwards to lay the platform and the coach can call on an all-Springbok pack in Pierre Spies, Arno Botha, Deon Stegmann, Victor Matfield, Flip van der Merwe, Marcel van der Merwe, Adriaan Strauss and Dean Greyling.

SuperRugby places a massive burden on the players, however, so there is a premium on having depth so players can be rotated and the Bulls seem well-placed in this regard with players such as Trevor Nyakane, Bandise Maku, Werner Kruger, Grant Hattingh, Lappies Labuschagne, Jacques du Plessis and Jacques Engelbrecht.

With the ball in play for an average of more than 40 minutes in the last three years of SuperRugby, Ludeke also said he will be focusing on improving the players’ conditioning and skills to deal with the faster-paced game.

The Bulls have come through a difficult period in which they have lost 50 players in five years, but Ludeke believes the new crop of players have begun to settle. They have tremendous potential at Loftus Versfeld and the Bulls have shown glimpses of that in being unbeaten at home in the 2013 SuperRugby competition.

“We have been competitive, but we haven’t been consistent. We won everything at home, but we lost all our away matches,” Ludeke said. “We made too many crucial errors at crucial times. We would dominate possession and play in the right areas, but make a mistake and the opposition would score from 70 metres out.”

To be fair to Ludeke, 2013 was a year in which he had to rebuild the team once again and several inexperienced players were tossed into the furnace. To expect total consistency and error-free rugby from such players is unrealistic in a tournament as demanding as SuperRugby.

But with a more settled squad and a year’s more experience, Ludeke is looking forward to better execution from his players next year.

SuperRugby training squad

Backs:  Jesse Kriel, Duncan Matthews, Warrick Gelant, Jurgen Visser, Akona Ndungane, Travis Ismaiel, Bjorn Basson, Jamba Ulengo, JJ Engelbrecht, William Small-Smith, Dries Swanepoel, Jan Serfontein, Ulrich Beyers, Dan Kriel, Burger Odendaal, Handre Pollard, Jacques-Louis Potgieter, Tian Schoeman, Kobus Marais, Francois Hougaard, Piet van Zyl, Rudy Paige, Ivan van Zyl, Carlo Engelbrecht.

Forwards:  Pierre Spies, Hanro Liebenberg, Arno Botha, Jacques du Plessis, Nardus van der Walt, Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg, Jacques Engelbrecht, Deon Stegmann, Lappies Labuschagne, Roelof Smit, Victor Matfield, Grant Hattingh, Marvin Orie, RG Snyman, Flip van der Merwe, Irne Herbst, Jason Jenkins, Werner Kruger, Marcel van der Merwe, Dayan van der Westhuizen, Hencus van Wyk, Basil Short, Adriaan Strauss, Bandise Maku, Callie Visagie, Jaco Visagie, Arno van Wyk, Dean Greyling, Morne Mellett, Trevor Nyakane, Pierre Schoeman.



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    Mark 7:8 – “You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men.”

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