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Ken Borland

Sharks hopeful that all their outside programmes will clinch that Etzebeth deal 0

Posted on March 24, 2022 by Ken

The Sharks are hoping that all their excellent programmes to assist their players with life outside rugby will clinch the deal with Eben Etzebeth, leading to the Springbok powerhouse lock joining them after the end of Toulon’s season in June.

The Sharks, thanks to their equity partners, offer enormous networking and advisory possibilities with an array of leading businesspeople and that could be of interest to Etzebeth, who has been one of the best-paid players in France and is now in the second half of his career.

Eduard Coetzee, the CEO of the Sharks, confirmed on Tuesday that the franchise are putting together an offer for arguably the best lock in the world, who was earning about R20 million a year at Toulon.

“We are speaking to Eben, he wants to come back and we will put our best foot forward,” Coetzee told The Citizen. “It’s about what we can offer him on and off the field.

“Eben will be turning 31 in October and we can give him a start for life after rugby. We can match him up with businesspeople who can help him – in the pharmaceutical world, clothing, property etc.

“Hopefully that can make up for the loss of income he will have coming back to South Africa. And with the endorsements and commercial opportunities he can get here, hopefully he can earn something that is not a long ways off what he gets there in France. So we feel there is definitely a chance that we will get him,” Coetzee said.

The salary cap (R65m) that SA Rugby have imposed on their franchises as they try to compete with the big-spending European clubs is a frustration, and the Sharks also have to ensure they do not anger the existing superstars in their squad by paying the likes of Etzebeth considerably more than they are earning.

“Of a probable current World XV, we have Siya Kolisi, Makazole Mapimpi and Lukhanyo Am, and now you add Eben Etzebeth,” Coetzee said. “And you can’t pay one of them twice as much as the others.

“You need a level of consistency in terms of what you are paying the top guys. Fortunately we have some credit still in the salary cap and Eben has got himself out of his contract with Toulon.”

The CEO also cleared up any impression that Neil Powell being parachuted in as director of rugby when he had initially been signed as defence coach would be cause for any anger by head coach Sean Everitt.

“John McFarland left for a long-term deal and Warren Whiteley stepped in as defence coach until Neil arrives in September, and he is doing really well. We felt the gap was in terms of managing the entire rugby programme.

“It has been a consultative process and Sean has a very difficult job managing two teams out of one squad. But Neil runs systems really well and he is very strong on culture and work ethic.

“So Neil will run everything outside of the day-to-day coaching. This will cause the least disruption and his strength is people-management, we need someone to run the whole system from juniors up the pipeline,” Coetzee said.

Jansen or Olivier likely to join Proteas attack; Marco has earned his shot says Maketa 0

Posted on January 17, 2022 by Ken

It seems likely that Duanne Olivier or Marco Jansen will be joining Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje in the Proteas pace attack to take on India in their Test series starting on Boxing Day, and SA A coach Malibongwe Maketa believes left-armer Jansen has earned his shot at an international debut.

While the return of Olivier after nearly three years of being a Kolpak player has hogged the headlines – unsurprisingly given his outstanding domestic form – many observers of the SA A series against India A, that ended this week with the third successive draw, are extremely excited about a potential Test debut for Jansen.

The 21-year-old must have been a contender for the player of the series award that eventually went to leading run-scorer Sarel Erwee (251 @ 50.20). Jansen bowled much better than his final figures of six wickets at 31.83 suggest, and he also averaged 63.50 with the bat, producing some crucial lower-order runs.

“Marco is an unassuming guy in the way he goes about his business,” Maketa told Saturday Citizen on Friday, “he does the job without much fanfare. But his runs and his bowling ability have been invaluable.

“He’s been our aggressor with the ball, he’s the guy we’ve turned to to break partnerships. He had an unbelievable series and his call-up to the Test squad is very much deserved,” Maketa said.

Erwee is also in the Test squad but only likely to make his debut if one of the regular opening batsmen, captain Dean Elgar and Aiden Markram, suffer an injury or illness. But the left-hander was one of the SA A stars to send a clear message to the selectors that he has what it takes to succeed at international level, given he scored 38 and 41, and 75 and 97, in the last two matches against a powerful India A attack.

Paceman Glenton Stuurman is also in the Test squad, with the improvement he showed with the old ball pleasing Maketa and also showing the national selectors that he is progressing as a bowler.

Others to show their careers are on an upward curve were fast bowler Lutho Sipamla, who was the leading wicket-taker for SA A, and batsman Tony de Zorzi, who batted positively in accumulating 234 runs (second only to Erwee) at 46.80. Zubayr Hamza produced an outstanding unbeaten century in the last game, and Pieter Malan opened the series with a big hundred.

“To hold our own against a team of that quality showed that we need to keep investing in these players,” Maketa said. “It was a very good India A team and I’m pleased with our performance.

“In all the games we had opportunities to really put them in the corner, but we let those chances go, it was slightly disappointing that we let India A back in the game.

“But overall, I was pleased that we were able to get into those situations, that we gave ourselves those opportunities,” Maketa said.

Despite frustrations, plenty to rave about in potential Bok team against rambunctious Georgians 0

Posted on July 12, 2021 by Ken

Despite the frustrations of injuries, positive Covid tests and several overseas players only joining the squad at the weekend, the Springboks look set to field at least a dozen of the players who featured in the World Cup final when they take on the rambunctious Georgians at Loftus Versfeld on Friday night.

Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber is a very rational man and while the Tests against Georgia are important to get both the team and the game-plan gelled before the series against the British and Irish Lions, those overseas players who were not able to attend the camp in Bloemfontein due to their club commitments are likely to miss out this week. They need a week of training with the Springboks to get back into the mix.

So although players like Jean-Luc and Dan du Preez have been receiving rave reviews for their performances for the Sale Sharks, having only just arrived in camp they ae not likely to be chosen for the first Test. Their team-mate Faf de Klerk, who will play a key role in antagonising the Lions, is also likely to temporarily be on the sidelines for the same reason, as will Cheslin Kolbe.

But there could be great excitement for the likes of wing Rosko Specman, eighthman Jasper Wiese, utility forward Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg and scrumhalf Sanele Nohamba, who could make their Springbok debuts thanks to all the absentees.

While Damian de Allende’s fire-pit injuries must have caused some chagrin, his absence will allow Francois Steyn to start at inside centre, the Free Stater having not played much high-intensity rugby recently. Cobus Reinach is favoured to start at scrumhalf while De Klerk gets acclimatised, but the rest of the backline should be the same as the one that won the World Cup final.

Flyhalf Handre Pollard, who has had a frustrating time with injuries since that memorable triumph, was described as “training very well and looking in good shape” by Nienaber on Sunday.

Wiese, of Leicester Tigers, has an early chance to show he is the right replacement for the injured Duane Vermeulen, otherwise the rest of the forwards should be all World Cup winners. They will not want to be embarrassed by a Georgian pack that loves to scrum.

So while there have been some annoyances in their build-up, the Springboks can still field a strong team most capable of controlling the feisty Georgians.

Possible Springbok team for first Test v Georgia: Willie le Roux, Rosko Specman, Lukhanyo Am, Francois Steyn, Makazole Mapimpi, Handre Pollard, Cobus Reinach, Jasper Wiese, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Siya Kolisi, Franco Mostert, Eben Etzebeth, Frans Malherbe, Bongi Mbonambi, Steven Kitshoff. Bench – Ox Nche, Malcolm Marx, Trevor Nyakane, Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg, Kwagga Smith, Sanele Nohamba, Elton Jantjies, Jesse Kriel.

‘Working with Jake is one of the best relationships of my career’ – Carr 0

Posted on February 23, 2021 by Ken

Nizaam Carr is a Springbok loose forward who hasn’t had much game time since joining the Bulls, but he said on Tuesday that working with coach Jake White has been one of the best relationships of his career and the desire at Loftus Versfeld is strong to avoid what the player called “the same fate as Liverpool”.

With the talismanic Duane Vermeulen currently unavailable after minor knee surgery, Carr could well get his chance to shine in the preparation series that starts this weekend, with the Bulls taking on Eastern Province in Pretoria on Sunday. The former Stormers and Wasps star said the message from White has been clear: Even though several of the stars who won both SuperRugby Unlocked and the Currie Cup might not be playing, the Bulls are looking to improve their game still further.

“The message from Jake was that we have to take it to the next level, whether that’s in our diet, our training, our gym or whatever. What happened to Liverpool, what my friends have been telling me about them because I’m not a big football fan … we don’t want to suffer the same fate. So we need to do something different to stay on top, we need to take our game up a notch.

“This series is the perfect opportunity for us to prepare and you can see everyone want this opportunity. I always back myself to start but I will do whatever I can to help the team, like I had to do for the Currie Cup final. But I have a good understanding with Jake and the other coaches, in fact my relationship with Jake is one of the best I’ve experienced with a coach. It’s been fantastic to continue my journey with these fantastic people,” Carr said on Tuesday.

Carr is probably competing with former Springbok Sevens star Tim Agaba for the eighthman berth vacated by Vermeulen. While Agaba will bring work-rate and physicality to the role, Carr said he sees his strength as being the more classical ability to link with the backs.

“I want to play eighthman, I feel I am best there, but it is nice that I can cover a lot of options and different coaches want different things from their eighthman. My strength is linking, mixing it up with the forwards and backs, doing the dirty work if necessary and bringing a high tackle count. I’m also a lineout option although I’m not the biggest guy.

“I’m not one of those 120kg or 1.95 metres guys, but I bring something else to the party. I have not played as much as I would have liked here, so it feels like my first game again, something I am really looking forward to. It’s a big opportunity, that’s the motivator for all of us, we want to showcase what we’ve got, show that we can turn up at this level, given the opportunity,” Carr said.

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