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Ken Borland

Nortje willing & excited about new adventure as Bulls captain 0

Posted on February 28, 2023 by Ken

Ruan Nortje has not captained a team before at senior level, but the willing second-row forward sees his new responsibility as an exciting adventure after he was confirmed as the new Bulls captain for the rest of the season on Thursday.

With Marcell Coetzee enjoying a sabbatical in Japan for the next few months, the Bulls needed a new leader and director of rugby Jake White has gone for one of the team’s inspirational young guns. Nortje has also been surrounded by an exciting young leadership group including potential future Loftus Versfeld legends like Elrigh Louw and Johann Grobbelaar.

“I’m very excited for the challenge and it’s an unbelievably big privilege. I captained a team maybe one or two times in high school but never at professional level or anything,” Nortje said.

“As a lineout leader, there’s also a lot of pressure, and doing that has definitely helped me gain confidence and I’ve learnt a lot about leadership. But I don’t know how I will feel running out in front on Saturday.

“I’ve known about it for a while and had a long time to get my head right for it. It’s another step on my journey towards my greater goals at the Bulls.

“Marcell asked me for a lot of advice on the field and I’ve learnt a lot from him. But the one message from him that stood out was to be myself as captain, don’t try too hard, just lead by example,” Nortje said.

One senses a new, young leadership group fits in perfectly with White’s long-term plan for the Bulls, with the director of rugby recently extending his contract at Loftus Versfeld through to June 2027. While there are still some richly experienced and massively respected older players at the Bulls, the new guard is starting to push itself to the forefront.

“It’s been coming a while, from last season already it came up that Marcell was probably going to go away for a Japan stint,” Nortje said. “Both Marcell and Jake spoke to me about how I would feel about the captaincy. It’s all been done in a systematic way, not just suddenly decided one morning.

“From the first time I played for the Bulls, I think of all the legends who have played before in the number five jersey whenever I put it on. Like Victor Matfield, who I will also follow now in his footsteps as captain.

“It’s a big motivation and when under pressure, I feel the best comes out of me. And I’m always chuffed and excited to play every weekend and give my 100%,” Nortje said.

The Bulls will return to United Rugby Championship action on Saturday when they host the Ospreys in Pretoria.

Boucher confirmed as new Mumbai Indians coach, a most suitable next step 0

Posted on October 28, 2022 by Ken

When one leaves the job of national cricket coach “to pursue other opportunities in line with his future career and personal objectives”, then the IPL would be a most suitable next step and Proteas coach Mark Boucher was duly confirmed as the Mumbai Indians new head coach on Friday.

Boucher announced earlier this week that he would step down as the Proteas coach after the T20 World Cup next month in Australia, and the “pursue other opportunities” reason was attributed to Cricket South Africa CEO Pholetsi Moseki in their statement.

“It’s a pleasure to welcome Mark Boucher to Mumbai Indians. With his proven expertise on the field and off it as a coach, guiding his team to numerous victories, Mark will add immense value to MI and take forward its legacy,” Akash M. Ambani, the chairman of Reliance Jio Infocomm, the owners of the franchise, said.

Boucher has overseen a steady growth in the Proteas T20 team, such that they are now ranked third in the world and are considered dark horses for the World Cup crown in Australia.

For Boucher, taking the coaching reins at a franchise as powerful as Mumbai Indians, the most successful IPL team in history with five titles since 2013, can almost be considered a step-up, especially in terms of salary.

But the last couple of years have been rough for Mumbai and there will be pressure for Boucher to turn around their fortunes as quickly as possible, because they missed the playoffs in 2021 and finished last this year.

“It is an honour and privilege for me to be appointed as head coach of Mumbai Indians,” Boucher said. “Their history and achievements as a franchise clearly put them up there as one of the most successful franchises in all of world sport.

“I look forward to the challenge and respect the need for results. It’s a strong unit with great leadership and players, and I look forward to adding value to this dynamic unit.”

Reports had suggested Boucher was being lined up for the MI Cape Town coaching gig in the inaugural SA20 early next year, but Australian Simon Katich has been appointed to head that sub-franchise, with Hashim Amla as the batting coach.

Boucher replaces Mahela Jayawardena as IPL coach, with the Sri Lankan great now looking after all three sub-franchises in the IPL, SA20 and Emirates T20 for Reliance as global head of performance.

Elgar confirms no change to top six despite middle-order batting 0

Posted on October 10, 2022 by Ken

Despite the poor middle-order batting performance in the first Test, Proteas captain Dean Elgar confirmed on Wednesday that there will be no change to their top-six for the second Test against England, which starts at Old Trafford on Thursday.

At Lord’s last week, the top-three did a fine job laying a solid platform that took the Proteas to 160/2. But Aiden Markram (16), Rassie van der Dussen (19) and Kyle Verreynne (11) all missed out as they slipped to 210/6, allowing England back into the game.

It was thanks to the lower-order that South Africa had a lead of 161, enough to win by an innings.

Markram, who has not passed 50 in 13 Test innings, and Van der Dussen, no fifty in his last 11 innings, are under particular pressure for their places, but Elgar said they are safe for Old Trafford.

“We do have extra resources, but when the team is getting results then it becomes extremely important to back the players,” Elgar said. “These are proper batsmen and they are here for a reason.

“Hopefully they get everything right in this Test, and if we start firing in the middle-order then we will be even more difficult to beat. So I don’t see any change there.

“Consistency is key in Test cricket, even in selection. We need to back the horses we’ve been backing for some time. So we have selected the same 12 as Lord’s – that’s the XI there plus Simon Harmer.”

It is the sheer potency of the Proteas attack that will pose the biggest threat to England, and Elgar said he is hoping that his bowlers will be even better in Manchester.

“I reckon our bowlers can get much better. They had a brilliant game at Lord’s, the pitch assisted them so that needs to be taken into account, but they put the ball in the right area.

“They are extremely hungry for success, the competition between them is great to see and they display some of the most professional behaviour I’ve seen.

“They know the past is the past, the first Test is done and they need to start again and bring the intensity and heat again.

“If there is extra pace and bounce then I’m sure our fast bowlers will get it out of the pitch. We’ve got the right resources with two world-class spinners in our armoury and four fast bowlers,” Elgar said.

While the Proteas have become a tight-knit family enjoying each other’s success, Elgar is ensuring he still cracks the whip when necessary to push the team to further heights, like securing the series win.

“We want to create a sense of no-one taking their foot off the gas. We’re not going to change the way we play and we won’t be intimidated by whatever changes England make.

“This is a fresh squad with a lot of hunger, whenever we get into a comfortable position then that’s a bit of a red flag. It’s up to me and the coach to realign the team after every good result,” Elgar said.

Delight for doughty SA women’s rugby team 0

Posted on September 19, 2022 by Ken

It’s been an amazing couple of weeks for women’s rugby in this country. After their breakthrough victory on away soil over Japan on July 30, the news that FNB will be the new major sponsors of the Springbok women’s team was confirmed on Wednesday, and on Saturday the doughty national team will take on Spain at Ellis Park in the curtain-raiser to the massive Rugby Championship Test against the All Blacks.

Delighted SA Rugby president Mark Alexander said finding a principal partner for the national women’s team had not been an easy task, but having chased after several potential sponsors, they then went back to an Old Faithful in FNB, and they have committed themselves to sharing the federation’s passion for the development of the women’s game.

It is the same company who, after Springbok rugby had arguably reached its nadir in 2017, signed a three-year deal, which was extended for five more in 2020, when other sponsors were jumping ship. The bank is undoubtedly now reaping the benefits with South African rugby on an absolute high.

“We have presented so many proposals to so many companies to sponsor our women’s team,” Alexander said at the announcement at Melrose Arch on Wednesday.

“But like they did when they came in after the 2016 season when all our other sponsors were leaving us, FNB have answered the call. A lot is being said about supporting women’s sport, but very few corporates actually do.

“This is an exciting start for the women’s game. You can see the quality of their play and I must commend Lynne Cantwell [High-Performance Manager for Women’s Rugby] for getting the right pillars in place.

“We want people to see our Springbok Women in action, to put them in the lights. Society needs to change its mindsets and the time has come for corporates to put their money where their mouths are,” Alexander said.

South Africa’s 20-10 win over Japan was a top-class effort, with Cantwell, a former Ireland captain, describing it on Wednesday as “a huge stake in the ground, a well-constructed win that was not by luck”.

Springbok captain Nolusindiso Booi was thrilled by all the good news surrounding her team and said Saturday’s Test against Spain at Ellis Park was a chance for them to perform in front of their heroes in the men’s side.

“We’re very excited to play before our heroes and display our rugby, and also to make the fans proud,” Booi said. “We’ve seen a lot of improvement, things are changing in women’s rugby.

“We’re on the up and now we need to go and compete with bigger teams as our goal is to make the top-five and ensure every girl playing rugby is aiming to play for the Springboks,” Booi said.

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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.”

    Our foundation must be absolute surrender, devotion and obedience to God, rising from pure love for him. Jesus Christ must be central in all things and his will must take precedence over the will of people, regardless of how well-meaning they may be.

    Surrender yourself unconditionally to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, then you will be able to identify what is of man with the wisdom of the Holy Spirit. Then you will be able to serve – in love! – according to God’s will.

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