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Ken Borland

Jake says whether his decision was right or wrong is only going to be decided at the end of the season 0

Posted on July 20, 2023 by Ken

Bulls coach Jake White said whether he was right or wrong to rest his first-choice players from European Champions Cup action and then they still lost to the Stormers in their United Rugby Championship derby in Cape Town is only going to be decided at the end of the season.

Despite bringing a fresh, best-available team to Cape Town to tackle the defending champions, the Bulls were humbled 37-27, allowing critics to wonder whether it was worth sending the second-stringers to Devon last weekend and being soundly beaten by Exeter Chiefs.

“We have five points from two games in the Champions Cup, both us and the Stormers do,” White pointed out. “The decision had nothing to do about today, it was not a measure of whether I was right or wrong.

“We will only measure that by June next year. There was no way the same team could play today after flying 26 hours in economy and only arriving back Monday lunchtime.

“We’ve lost four times in a row now to the Stormers, but we will see in June when we have three competitions on the go. If I was only concerned with European competition then maybe I would have done things differently.

“But my brief as director of rugby comes from a decision made by the board. Next year’s Currie Cup will be played Wednesday-Saturday-Saturday, which is a helluva ask. Plus we only have eight training days in January because of the travel,” White said.

The former Springbok coach said the naivety of his team was a concern, putting it down to inexperience.

“It didn’t help playing 20 minutes with 14 guys, but we showed moments of inexperience, which was disappointing,” White said. “There were four minutes of madness when they scored three of their four tries.

“You can’t say you should have won when you’ve conceded four tries, but our attack was held up on the Stormers’ line a couple of times. The Stormers really stormed the breakdown.

“They would rather concede penalties than the try, and defence coach Norman Laker has been there a long time. In fact their whole coaching staff has been there a long time, so they are much more fluent.

“I don’t enjoy losing, but it’s a complete and utter juggling act at the moment. We are still young, every player in the Stormers pack is older than his Bulls counterpart. We have six guys who are 23 or younger,” White said.

Jake has 1st-choice Bulls but says Stormers minus 3 Boks are still favourites 0

Posted on June 26, 2023 by Ken

Jake White may have his first-choice Bulls side back against a Stormers team that is missing a trio of injured Springboks, but he still said the home team will be the favourites in their United Rugby Championship derby in Cape Town on Friday night.

The Stormers will be without Evan Roos, their talismanic eighthman, exciting young lock Salmaan Moerat and experienced scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies, while White on Thursday named a Bulls team with nine Springboks in the starting line-up and two more on the bench.

But White said he did not read too much into who the Stormers are missing.

“I don’t think it’s a weaker Stormers team, nothing has changed. Our team is still young and in evolution, we’re still where we were last year – we’re developing,” White said.

“I like to think we’re playing better rugby than last year because of the added experience, but we are still a young team building together. We’ve not suddenly become a powerhouse senior team.

“If you look at the Stormers tight five, they are each a couple of years older than ours when you look man-for-man. And John Dobson has been coaching them for a long time.

“So I think they’re favourites. But it’s fantastic that the North/South derby has its aura back, the challenge is healthy and hopefully we do the rivalry justice,” White said.

Things have switched around dramatically from the old rendition of the derby when “10-man” Northern Transvaal relied on a robust, hardcore pack and Western Province, who had a ruthless backline, almost had a bounty out on flyhalf Naas Botha.

Now it is the Stormers who have the grizzled old hard men up front and the Bulls who have the exciting runners in the backs. Although the intensity of this derby could be like a Test match, White said he was hopeful there would still be bountiful space for his dashers.

“I like to believe there will still be space for them. These are good players who have opened up holes in Test rugby. I’m very proud of the good attacking backs we have, Chris Rossouw has worked really hard with them and we’ve had three guys called up for national duty this year, so I guess it is a bit like an old Western Province backline.

“We’ll need to be accurate when we have the ball and score some tries, because we’re not going to win by just keeping them out of our 22.

“But we do also have to be good enough not to give them entries into our 22 because I don’t see them going away from scrumming for penalties, kicking to the corner and then mauling for tries,” White said.

Bulls:Kurt-Lee Arendse, Cornal Hendricks, Lionel Mapoe, Harold Vorster, Canan Moodie, Johan Goosen, Embrose Papier, Elrigh Louw, Cyle Brink, Marco Van Staden, Ruan Nortje (c), Ruan Vermaak, Mornay Smith, Johan Grobbelaar, Gerhard Steenekamp. Bench -Bismarck du Plessis, Simphiwe Matanzima, Sebastian Lombard, Janko Swanepoel, Nizaam Carr, Zak Burger, Chris Smit, Stravino Jacobs.

Boks seriously vulnerable if anything else goes amiss 0

Posted on August 11, 2021 by Ken

It is going to be a nervous week for Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber ahead of the first Test against the British and Irish Lions in Cape Town because, as the disappointing performance of the SA A pack against the Bulls showed, if anything more goes amiss with his first-choice line-up then the home side are going to be seriously vulnerable.

Nienaber has claimed that not even he knows when the likes of captain Siya Kolisi, ace flyhalf Handre Pollard and wing Makazole Mapimpi will clear their Covid protocols. The availability of those three players will be his foremost concern this week, but there are other departments that are looking a bit thin at the moment too.

While Kolisi’s absence, alongside that of Duane Vermeulen, leaves Pieter-Steph du Toit to marshal an inexperienced loose trio, the situation at lock is even more concerning. Franco Mostert and Eben Etzebeth are the first-choice pairing and both have been outstanding in the warm-ups. But, with Lood de Jager and RG Snyman not yet fit, their back-ups – Marvin Orie, Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg and Jean-Luc du Preez – have been underwhelming.

Frans Malherbe being Covid-positive has raised questions about the depth at tighthead prop and, while Steven Kitshoff is consistently excellent in the No.1 jersey, who the loosehead prop replacement is going to be is an interesting question with Ox Nche reportedly also being infected with the virus.

There is good news at hooker though with the reported returns to training of Bongi Mbonambi and Scarra Ntubeni meaning Nienaber will not have to field the uncapped Joseph Dweba or Fez Mbatha off the bench.

Elton Jantjies looked in solid form against the Bulls and is an experienced campaigner who can step in for Pollard, while Sbu Nkosi or Aphelele Fassi are both capable stand-ins for Mapimpi. Scrumhalf Cobus Reinach and eighthman Kwagga Smith were the other players who were blameless in the weekend loss, but both were not overly impressed with the quality of performance put up by SA A.

“We had a lot of opportunities that were not taken, instead of being simple we tried something that was not on too often. It’s important to not go out of alignment as a squad, we all have to do our job and we need to put our game-plan on them. There were small individual things that were good, but we did not collectively stamp ourselves on the Bulls,” Reinach said.

“It was an opportunity to get some game-time, which we have not had a lot of, and we knew the Bulls would be desperate, but I think we underestimated how much they wanted to prove a point. We didn’t dominate up front and that’s where the trouble started. We lacked that bit of x-factor and there were a lot of mistakes. We need to sharpen up and get the basics right,” Smith said.

With pack hit by injuries, it makes no sense to load outside backs 0

Posted on June 15, 2021 by Ken

With the first-choice Springbok pack hit by injuries, it makes little sense for the squad for the British and Irish Lions series to be loaded with outside backs, but that’s exactly what coach Jacques Nienaber and director of rugby Rassie Erasmus have done.

Their 46-strong Springbok squad contains eight outside backs, the most well-stocked department of all with one more player than either the loose forwards or props. The allocation of seven loose forwards includes Duane Vermeulen, who suffered what looked like a serious ankle injury at the weekend, and amongst the six locks named for the series, two of them – Lood de Jager and RG Snyman – are still injured.

There are two utility forwards included in Jean-Luc du Preez and Rynhardt Elstadt, but the cynical might surmise that the outside backs have been overstocked in order to get the transformation numbers up – there is only one White player amongst the back three in fullback Willie le Roux.

“Local derbies are like Springbok trials and when you play strength versus strength week in, week out, like the Rainbow Cup has been, then you expect a number of injuries. So every weekend has been quite nervous for us, fortunately there haven’t been too many injuries, but there are many niggles in the squad. We’ll have to reassess after the first couple of weeks.

“But the good thing is our local players will be used to physical rugby, which will be a big part of the Lions series. The big question is when is a player 100% ready for Test rugby, when do we experiment? We play Georgia twice, but we have not played together since the World Cup, so we don’t want to experiment there,” Erasmus said.

Erasmus admitted that he was not optimistic that Vermeulen will be available for the Lions series, and the uncapped Jasper Wiese is likely to replace him at eighthman, with the World Cup winning coach saying the 25-year-old’s form for the Leicester Tigers in the English Premiership cannot be ignored.

“Duane has to be doubtful with his ankle. He’s on his way to Cape Town for scans. I spoke to Jake White [Bulls coach] and it looked bad. For Duane to limp off so early in a match is very unusual, so we are fearing the worst,” Erasmus admitted.

“But Jasper Wiese can play eighthman and we cannot ignore the form he is in, he was outstanding in the Premiership and he knocked the door down weekly. He is explosive and we’re really lucky that he’s versatile, he can play openside as well.”

In just 14 Premiership appearances, the former Free State Cheetahs player has made 701 running metres, beaten 54 defenders, has a 90% tackle success rate and has made eightline-breaks.

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