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Ken Borland

Gaps in defensive matrix also a concern for Sharks 0

Posted on April 28, 2022 by Ken

While most of the attention around the Sharks has been focused on the lack of clinical finishing in their attack, the gaps in their defensive matrix are also a concern as they go into their vital United Rugby Championship match against the Dragons at Kings Park on Friday night.

As coach Sean Everitt has pointed out, while the Sharks were extremely wasteful of their opportunities in last weekend’s loss against Edinburgh, they also leaked three tries in sodden conditions, so it’s not as if their defence was faultless either. And the Dragons scored three tries against the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld to show that they have the weaponry to hurt the home side if they lose their shape in defence.

“In the last week everyone obviously looks at the opportunities we created on attack and were not converted, but we also need to look at the tries we conceded,” Everitt said.

“We let in three tries, so that means we need to score four to win the game, but that’s very difficult in these conditions.

“There were small details we fell short on in terms of taking our opportunities, but it’s a massive issue that we conceded three soft tries that we could have handled normally,” Everitt said.

The Sharks coach seldom volunteers much comment on individual performances, but given the spotlight on Curwin Bosch, Everitt felt the need to set the record straight on his starting flyhalf.

“There’s been a lot of talk about Curwin and we need to be factual,” Everitt said. “His kicking has been really good until last week and his kicking stats are the best we have.

“Against Zebre Parma he controlled the game and attacked much better than he had before. In terms of game-management, he did really well against Edinburgh.

“He showed his class in tough conditions and we were able to win 65% territory. Plus no-one sees the leadership he puts in through the week, how he performs well in training,” Everitt said.

Victory against the Dragons is crucial for the eighth-placed Sharks because they host the in-form Lions in their next match, before closing the round-robin campaign with games against top sides in Leinster, Connacht and Ulster.

Bavuma: Folding under World Cup pressure no concern of current Proteas team 0

Posted on November 08, 2021 by Ken

Proteas captain Temba Bavuma said on Thursday that previous South African teams folding under pressure at global events is no concern of the current side as they head into the T20 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates.

Most overseas pundits are not expecting the Proteas to make the semi-finals, despite their fine recent form in the shortest format of the game. This is a far cry from most previous World Cups when South Africa have routinely been one of the favourites and have inevitably failed to deliver.

“The pressure that has been put on previous teams, we’ve had those conversations and we accept those pressures are always there,” Bavuma said. “But this bunch of players does not carry that on their shoulders.

“We accept that the expectations outside of our camp are not as high, but we know the standards we have set for ourselves. As a team, there is a certain level of expectation that we have and we have put in a lot of preparation on the physical and mental side of the game. Everything is quite relaxed at the moment.”

Bavuma said his recovery from his fractured hand is “still on track” and Friday will be the day when he faces ‘live’ bowling in the nets for the first time, having come through a lengthy session of throw-downs on Thursday.

“I had a good batting session and the hand is definitely getting stronger by the day, it’s feeling a lot more comfortable. Tomorrow I will face actual bowlers and get comfortable with what I can do and make peace with what I can’t do. I can assess where I am,” Bavuma said.

With the veteran finisher David Miller assured of a place in the middle-order and Aiden Markram and Rassie van der Dussen likely to bat there as well, Bavuma said his place in the batting line-up will be at the top of the order.

“My role is quite obvious and clear to me and I will come in at the top. Reeza Hendricks has been batting well there too, so one of us will probably open with Quinton de Kock,” Bavuma said.

Jake complaining like your wife about there being too much rugby! 0

Posted on May 31, 2021 by Ken

Many male rugby fans will know the feeling of the wife complaining about their being too much rugby over the weekend, but Bulls coach Jake White certainly seems to have a legitimate complaint when he expressed his concern over all the different demands on his players that will happen next month.

The Bulls, starting with their match against the Lions on Saturday, have three rounds of Rainbow Cup SA games left and, with them sitting top of the log at the moment, they will have their eyes on the final against the winners of the Pro14 in Europe on June 19. But they could also have to play in the Currie Cup that weekend, and it is likely that the Springboks could be in camp as well.

“I know a request has been made for us to be allowed to make our squads bigger than the player cap of 45, and that’s from all four unions, not just the Bulls. If we play in the Rainbow Cup final on June 19, we could also have a Currie Cup game and the Boks could be out too. The U20s also have a competition starting. But we’re only allowed 45 players so I’m not sure what we can do, can we choose club players?

“We’re waiting to hear from SA Rugby, but we’re all in the same boat. In fact, the Sharks could have 10-12 plays in the Springbok camp, so I’m not sure how they would pick two full teams. But as a coach I want to produce Springboks, I want guys like Cornal Henricks, Stedman Gans and Elrigh Louw to play for the Boks and the list goes on,” White said on Friday.

The quandary requires some nifty selecting and player management, and the elevation of Chris Smith to the position of starting flyhalf against the Lions, with Morne Steyn being rested, is an obvious example of this. White has given Smith plenty of game time in the last year and the 26-year-old has shown he has the qualities and temperament of a top franchise player.

“Even with Morne playing so well, we realise we are not going to have him forever and part of the plan is to groom the next flyhalf. If we lose Morne to an extended Springbok squad then we have to play Chris. He has come on in some pressure games and played very well. He’s got the talent, he plays quickly and he has a great passing game. There’s no panic, he’s started enough times.

“It’s good for him to get some game-time now and he has grown in the last year. Every practice he plays against Morne, so he can see what makes him different. But Chris has got something different too and he’s the No.2 flyhalf that has played the most out of all the franchise 10s. So we have a lot of faith in him, we’re ready to get the best out of him,” White said.

Bulls team: David Kriel, Madosh Tambwe, Marco Jansen van Vuren, Cornal Hendricks, James Verity-Amm, Chris Smith, Embrose Papier, Duane Vermeulen (C), Elrigh Louw, Marco van Staden, Ruan Nortje, Walt Steenkamp, Trevor Nyakane, Johan Grobbelaar, Lizo Gqoboka. Bench – Schalk Erasmus, Gerhard Steenekamp, Mornay Smith, Janko Swanepoel, Nizaam Carr, Zak Burger, Clinton Swart, Stravino Jacobs.

Erasmus worried about personal welfare of Springboks 0

Posted on September 29, 2020 by Ken

South Africa’s Rugby Championship participation is obviously dependent on government approval, but player welfare is also a major concern for Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus and his personal opinion is that the Springboks are going to be underdone in terms of game time.

South Africa’s opening Rugby Championship game is against Argentina on November 7 and they have to arrive in Australia by October 18 in order to quarantine for two weeks, but that means the members of the Springbok squad that are based in South Africa will only have a maximum of 240 minutes under their belts – SuperFan Saturday, this weekend’s Green v Gold match and the opening round of Super Rugby Unlocked.

“We desperately want to play because it would be terrible to have a year with no Test rugby. But we’ve had no clear answer from the English clubs about their semi-finals and final, we have to take a massive squad because you need four players in each key position and we all have to arrive at the same time because of two weeks quarantine, during which we can practise together.

“The science tells us that the players need five or six games, 400-500 minutes, before playing Test rugby is safe because of the injury risk and player welfare. It’s a tough one because we know we have to go, but we just don’t know how it’s going to be possible. And we don’t have much time to sort it out, the decisions all have to be done by October 10. It’s a matter of high performance and player welfare, we want to be competitive but 240 minutes is the most our players will have,” Erasmus said on Monday.

It’s fortunate that the players don’t have to be isolated in their hotel rooms, stuck on their cellular phones and gaming devices, for their two-week isolation, but even playing intra-squad matches between themselves is fraught with risk.

“We’ll be lucky if most of them have more than 200 minutes game time when we arrive in Australia, but we can probably still play against each other, a 46-man squad means we have two teams of 23. So if we play twice then that adds another 160 minutes, takes us to 360, which is nearly there. And there may be more intensity than usual because the guys will be playing for spots. “But then there’s also the risk of more injuries. And it’s not just your 15 players that you are worried about, it could be any of 30 guys on the field at any given time. Plus all 46 of the squad have played less than 200 minutes and have been under strict Lockdown, the toughest in the world. So there are a lot of problems with that as well! But ultimately the decision will be made for us,” Erasmus said.

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    Don’t be so busy – even working for God – that you don’t have regular quiet time. Don’t let your activities become more important than your time with the Father. You can be alive ‘for’ God without experiencing the presence and power of the living Christ.

    “Attempting to serve the Lord without the strength of the Holy Spirit results in frustration and ultimate disaster.

    “If your vision of him grows dim, your service will become powerless and ineffective. This will happen if your spiritual reserves are not regularly replenished through prayer and meditation.

    “You must put him first in all your activities. Your service for him must be the result of your intimate knowledge of him. Only when he enjoys priority in all things, can you understand life from his perspective. Putting Christ first in your life and work makes you a more capable servant of God.” – A Shelter From The Storm, Solly Ozrovech

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