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Ken Borland



A few options when locating the source of the Bulls’ motivation, but the past is not their focus 0

Posted on June 22, 2023 by Ken

There are a few options when it comes to locating the source of the Bulls’ motivation for their United Rugby Championship match against the Stormers in Cape Town on Friday night, but captain Ruan Nortje said on Wednesday that their focus is not on the past.

Nevertheless, losing their last three matches against their great rivals, including the inaugural URC final, will certainly rankle. But there is also fresh motivation in the sense that beating the Stormers will maintain the Bulls’ ascendancy in the race to this season’s South African Shield. Defeat would allow the Stormers to leapfrog the Bulls into second place on the overall log, with a game in hand.

If all that fails, then the fact that it is the classic North/South derby, in the tradition of Northern Transvaal versus Western Province, should suffice for motivation.

“Last season’s final was obviously difficult for us, but that’s rugby – you win some and you lose some,” Nortje said. “The Stormers are a very good side and deserved champions and we respect them a lot.

“But this is a new season and a very important game on Friday night. We have put the past behind us and we’re just focused on the road going forward.

“The North/South derby week is always massive for our coach, Jake White. He’s a very good coach and he knows what he is doing. He’s definitely working on us mentally in a good way and he will definitely have us prepared.

“The past is behind us, it was tough to lose in the final, but it was a special game to be part of and this is a new and exciting week,” Nortje said.

The Bulls lock expects the Stormers to attack them again at scrum time, while the visitors could target a sometimes flaky lineout that will be without injured Springbok second-rower Salmaan Moerat.

“Last season we struggled in the scrums so we worked a lot on that in the off-season. The Stormers have if not the best scrum, then one of the best,” Nortje said.

“Steven Kitshoff and Frans Malherbe are world-class and the scrums will be a big test to build momentum. It’s going to be a massive challenge, but we are very excited about it.

“I think scrum time will play a big role, we must not give away penalties there. It’s also always a big tussle in the lineout and I look forward to that too.

“I’m very sorry for Salmaan, he’s a brilliant player and it’s always lekker to test yourself against the best. But the Stormers have quality in depth, Marvin Orie is still there and he will take whatever young lock they choose under his wing,” Nortje said.

CEO says it’s irrelevant whether BBCo houses Nkosi’s rugby career in future as Bok wing is found 0

Posted on April 13, 2023 by Ken

Whether the Blue Bulls Company houses Sbu Nkosi’s rugby career in future is irrelevant right now, CEO Edgar Rathbone said on Tuesday, because their focus is on making sure the Springbok wing gets the help he needs to solve his personal issues.

Nkosi had been missing from Loftus Versfeld for three weeks, raising fears for his wellbeing and safety, before he was found at his father’s house in Emalahleni (Witbank) on Monday afternoon. Rathbone was among the search party and he had a 40-minute talk with the 26-year-old.

“It was important for me to establish he was okay, safe and unharmed, and to find out where he is at. I was thrilled he was alive but sad to see the state he was in,” Rathbone said on Tuesday.

“We will provide the support he needs, but it’s difficult to put a timeline on his recovery, we need to give him space and get him back to full health. We need to follow the process, for some people it takes one month, for others six months, it depends on the depth they have to go.

“Our goal is to get him back on the rugby field and feeling like the champion he is again. Even if that’s not at the Bulls, it’s our job to get him ready. It’s irrelevant right now whether he plays for the Bulls again or some other team, it’s about Sbu Nkosi the person.

“Our concern is not for Sbu Nkosi the rugby player but for him as a person. He is an employee of the company and being absent without leave for three weeks does have consequences. But at this stage, we’re missing the point if we’re worrying about whether he still has a contract or not,” Rathbone said.

In terms of how the Bulls handled the disappearance of one of their star players, Rathbone said they had to cut their cloth according to the circumstances at the time, but he added “I’m sure mistakes were made along the way, but the player’s reputation also needed to be managed and his safety was a concern as well”.

While both the Bulls and MyPlayers, the players’ organisation to look after their interests, have mental health support measures in place, Rathbone said they would review the overall efficiency of these systems.

The CEO added that he hoped the general public would cotton on to the fact that coarse messaging on social media can lead struggling players into the dumps.

“I would ask everyone to be kind and not to make any remarks that may be harmful to Sbu. If you look at the comments and articles on social media, it’s quite frightening how stones are thrown at people.

“Everyone is going through stuff, no-one is immune to it. I would ask people to have a bit of respect for their fellow human beings.

“Unlike other jobs, our employees win or lose every Saturday and that’s pressure. I know it’s what they signed up for, but if they need help handling it then that support needs to be there,” Rathbone said.

Markram admits Proteas missed out on extra 15-20 runs 0

Posted on December 23, 2022 by Ken

As well as he batted, Aiden Markram has admitted that the Proteas missed out on an extra 15-20 runs they should have scored as they went down to India by seven wickets in the second ODI at the weekend, and executing their skills in the crucial moments will be their focus going into the decisive third match in Delhi on Tuesday.

Markram scored 79 off 89 balls, an innings filled with plenty of great strokes, but he was just beginning to really dominate after a tough start when he got out, lashing a short delivery from off-spinner Washington Sundar to extra cover. What made his dismissal even worse was that it came just two balls after Heinrich Klaasen got out for a brisk 30 off 26 deliveries.

Markram had set up the innings superbly with Reeza Hendricks (74 off 76) in a run-a-ball third-wicket stand of 129, and he and Klaasen then added 46 off 40 balls to leave the Proteas poised for a score of over 300 as they reached 215 for three in the 38th over.

They subsided to 278 for seven, which India chased down with 25 balls to spare and Markram put his hand up for what happened.

“The pitch was drier than in Lucknow and we thought we had a decent score, even if it was 15-20 runs less than ideal,” Markram said.

“It would have been nice to bat through the last 10 overs and cash in, that’s where the runs left out there are on me. Whenever two wickets fall bang-bang, then the fielding team gets all the momentum back.

“When I got out, maybe that’s where we left the 15-20 runs short. I haven’t played in Delhi before, but lots of the team have, so we’ll have knowledge of the conditions. We will just try and execute our skills on the day, ultimately that’s what matters,” Markram said.

India’s successful chase was also built around a third-wicket stand, although Ishan Kishan (93 off 84) and Shreyas Iyer (113* off 111) took theirs to 161. Although he has been out-of-form lately, South Africa possibly missed the ability of wrist-spinner Tabraiz Shamsi to take wickets in the middle overs. Both he and captain Temba Bavuma missed the second ODI due to illness.

“They were very good, they played excellent knocks and deserve a lot of credit for such a big partnership that killed the game,” Markram said.

“The ball was quite wet, we definitely saw the impact of the dew. I don’t think we bowled badly, they hit some good balls for boundaries and then it becomes tough to slow them down.”

Markram said he was greatly helped by having Hendricks in such good form at the other end, and hopefully the prolific 33-year-old keeps his place for Tuesday’s decider.

“Batting first, the ball did not skid on so much and India bowled into the pitch and the ball just died. David Miller struggling to hit the ball shows you how tough conditions were and how well India bowled.

“I found it tough, it was frustrating. But lots of credit must go to Reeza, he kept the runs flowing at the other end and so the partnership was still doing well,” Markram said.

Focus on Bavuma & his pedigree; all his focus on fulfilling his role 0

Posted on November 16, 2022 by Ken

While almost all the focus in the build-up to South Africa’s first T20 against India in Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday has been on Proteas captain Temba Bavuma and his pedigree in the shortest format of the game, the skipper himself said on Tuesday that all his focus is on fulfilling his role for the team.

Bavuma returns to international action for the first time since June when he retired hurt for eight off 11 balls in the fourth T20 against India in Rajkot; South Africa going on to be skittled for just 87 and losing by 82 runs as the hosts levelled the series. The fifth and decisive match was then washed out.

Bavuma tore a tendon in his elbow when diving to make his ground on a quick single. But questions had already been raised in India over his place in the side as he ended the series with 61 runs in four innings, at a strike-rate of only 103.38, the lowest of any frontline batsman in the series.

When he last week failed to attract a single bid for the SA20 league from any of the IPL-associated franchises, it created a fresh storm over his head.

“My focus is on the team and my role as captain is to lead and serve as best I can,” Bavuma said on Tuesday when asked whether he will be going all-out with the bat to prove the naysayers wrong.

“My job is to make sure the team is in the best space possible going into the World Cup. Anything else I try not to give energy to, they’re all distractions and sideshows.

“I’m trying to put what happened at the auction behind me and my biggest focus is on my role as captain,” Bavuma said.

The Indian team are resting the swing bowler Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who gave the Proteas, and especially Bavuma, a torrid time in the previous series. Jasprit Bumrah is back to lead the attack. The home side’s most experienced batsmen, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli, are also back in the fray, having rested in the earlier rubber.

“We were tested and challenged in all departments last time here and I think we responded quite well,” Bavuma said. “They have some big names back with pedigree behind them, and they will lead from the front.

“They will boost the confidence of the Indian team and add some x-factor. But it’s good for us to be coming up against their best players.

“It’s quite challenging against their opening bowlers in the powerplay, they get the ball to swing and move quite a bit, more than we are accustomed to at home.

“The key is to limit the damage, manoeuvre around them and try and get some momentum later on,” Bavuma said.

Play starts at 3.30pm SA time.

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  • Thought of the Day

    Even if I’m just a signpost on the road, it would be a source of great joy to know that my service for Christ is effective. It may just be something you say; a kind deed; support in times of need; a sympathetic ear.

    Because you bear his holy name, God expects you to be his witnesses, to proclaim the gospel, and to win souls for God. But Christ inspires you through his Holy Spirit to do this.

    Persevere in your service as Christ did – through obstacles, disappointment and adversity, and never give up hope.

    “Seek the Lord in prayer and open your heart to the Holy Spirit so that Christ can become an essential part of your life. As he leads you along his path, you will experience unparalleled fulfillment that can only be found in serving Jesus Christ.” – A Shelter From The Storm, Solly Ozrovech



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