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Ken Borland

Elgar uneasy to introduce another new face, but runs now Markram’s last safe port of call 0

Posted on March 28, 2022 by Ken

Given they have already fielded one debutant in the batting line-up in Sarel Erwee, one could sense Proteas captain Dean Elgar’s unease when it comes to introducing another new face for the second Test against New Zealand starting in Christchurch at midnight on Wednesday evening South African time, but making runs right now is surely the embattled Aiden Markram’s last safe port of call.

Markram was far from the only failure in a first Test which saw the Proteas bundled out for embarrassingly low scores of just 95 and 111, but his poor run of form now extends to just 97 runs in his last 10 innings. Captain Elgar admitted on Wednesday that the time for talking is over.

“There is a big possibility of a couple of changes, no doubt,” Elgar said. “Conditions and weather will play a part, but some guys are low on confidence, especially in the batting. But it’s difficult for debutants to come in and make a play.

“Aiden is a tough one and I don’t need to speak to him anymore. We’ve had a lot of tough conversations, he needs to score runs and his position is vulnerable at the moment.

“He knows that. There’s no need for me to harp on about it. He needs to contribute, he’s in a very important position in the top-order. We can’t afford to carry guys in positions like that.

“We’ve had a lot of very good conversations over the last few weeks that have definitely resonated with him. But I need him now to return the favours,” Elgar said.

Apart from the uncertainty surrounding Markram, South Africa have also suffered a blow to their bowling hopes with the news that Lungi Ngidi is still on the road to recovery from his back strain and will not be available for the second Test either.

The Proteas bowlers made the spiteful Hagley Oval pitch look like a road at times, so poorly did they bowl, and Elgar would have loved to have the accurate and probing Ngidi as an option, coming in for Glenton Stuurman, who showed promise with the new ball on debut in the first Test, but grew increasingly flat and ineffective as New Zealand’s massive first innings grew and grew.

If the pitch is considerably flatter after a week of more sunshine than it was for the first Test, then spinner Keshav Maharaj may come into the reckoning. But South Africa are unlikely to not field four pace bowlers, so the left-arm spinner would have to replace a batsman, a risk in itself given what happened last week.

With Rainbow Cup imminent, many youngsters giving up rentals spots in Bulls team 0

Posted on March 29, 2021 by Ken

With Bulls coach Jake White believing the start of the Rainbow Cup is imminent, many of the youngsters he has fielded thus far in the preparation series have given up their rentals spots in the team as the Currie Cup champions get ready to face the Stormers at Loftus Versfeld on Friday.

Springboks Trevor Nyakane, Marco van Staden, Cornal Hendricks and Morne Steyn all return to action, while regulars such as Ruan Nortje, Stedman Gans and Jacques van Rooyen have also been named in the 26-man squad as White starts to get his first-choice team up-and-running again ahead of European competition.

The Rainbow Cup is scheduled to run from April 17 to June 19 and will feature the Bulls, Stormers, Sharks and Lions playing in two pools of eight with Europe’s Pro12 teams. The regular Pro14 season is coming to an end with Leinster playing Munster in the final on March 27.

“If we work backwards from the British Lions tour and the Pro14 is now at the back end, then one month from now we will probably see the start of the Rainbow Cup. I think the Rainbow Cup is imminent and hopefully it all comes together for us in a month and, barring guys like Gio Aplon and Travis Ismaiel who have long-term injuries, we should have 90% of our squad fully match-fit.

“I want to see some of our youngsters with the stronger guys around them and a lot of thought has gone into the combinations. For instance, if we lose our Springboks then I need to know what our front row will look like. I’m happy with where we are, we have the best of both worlds with about 25 guys training with the conditioning staff and the youngsters playing every week,” White said on Thursday.

Friday’s match will also see Zak Burger get his first run-out with the Bulls and White said he had given the attacking former Griquas scrumhalf the same licence as a teenager at the sales with a gold card.

“I’m quite excited about seeing Zak. Whenever you play an opposition, you look at their threats and there’s no doubt whenever anyone played Griquas everybody was watching him. I’ve given him free rein, I expect him to make an impact because he’s very quick and he has a very good rugby brain. I’ve told him to have a go, be good at what’s he’s good at and not worry,” White said.

Bulls: Richard Kriel, Madosh Tambwe, Stedman Gans, Cornal Hendricks, Marco Jansen van Vuren, Chris Smith, Zak Burger, Nizaam Carr (c), Werner Gouws, Marco van Staden, Ruan Nortje, Janko Swanepoel, Trevor Nyakane, Joe van Zyl, Gerhard Steenekamp. Bench – Johan Grobbelaar, Jan-Hendrik Wessels, Jacques van Rooyen, Jan Uys, Tim Agaba, Keagan Johannes, Morné Steyn, Diego Appollis, Nolan Pienaar, Raynard Roets, Marnus Potgieter.

Varsity Cup once again in troubled waters 0

Posted on April 21, 2016 by Ken


The Varsity Cup once again finds itself in troubled waters with claims that champions Pukke fielded an ineligible player, breaking the same complex rule that led to the University of KwaZulu-Natal being docked a massive 12 points, scuppering their chances of being promoted from the Varsity Shield into the big league.

Pukke won the tournament, which was disrupted by unrest at universities across the country, by beating Maties 7-6 a week ago in Stellenbosch, with front-ranker Bart le Roux excelling.

Unfortunately for the Potchefstroom university, Le Roux played previously for the UKZN Impi in 2014 and, due to the arcane regulations for the tournament, had to sit out a certain period of time before representing another university side.

UKZN were found guilty of fielding an ineligible player when a former University of Johannesburg and Lions U-19 player appeared for them in six matches this season, Varsity Cup organisers saying they were deducted two points per game. But tournament auditors KPMG cleared both Le Roux and the UKZN player as being eligible, leaving Varsity Cup organisers in a quandary.

Having set a harsh precedent in punishing UKZN, Varsity Cup is faced with the embarrassing decision to strip Pukke of their title, more than a week after the final.

The situation has led many of the competing teams to question the efficiency of KPMG, whose advice was taken in fielding the ineligible players, and whether it is fair for them to be punished for mistakes by the tournament’s auditors.

The lack of a centralised database comprising all participating players’ tournament histories and educational background so they can be checked before the tournament starts has also been criticised.

UKZN management have also queried the timing with opposition teams seemingly waiting until the final stages of the season, when there is no time for a team to recover from losing points, before making their accusations.

Varsity Cup organisers did not return messages asking for comment yesterday.


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