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Ken Borland

Do the Sharks have a cat’s ability to land back on their feet? 0

Posted on June 14, 2022 by Ken

A cat’s ability to right itself and land back on its feet whenever it takes a tumble is well-documented, but whether the Sharks can do the same when they visit the Free State Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Saturday for their Currie Cup match remains to be seen.

The Sharks were humbled 20-10 by the Pumas at Kings Park last weekend and now have to play the unbeaten Cheetahs at their home ground, with the Free Staters no doubt sensing a prime opportunity to take control of first place on the log.

The KwaZulu-Natalians are trying to hold off the Griquas and Pumas in the semi-final race, but right now coach Etienne Fynn just wants to see a much-improved display from his side.

“There will definitely be a reaction to last week and hopefully a positive one,” Fynn said on Friday. “We are emotionally bruised, but I expect us to get back on track.

“It’s about sticking to the plan and individual role-execution is critical. It’s never going to work if the players don’t stick to the plan and this week has been a time of self-reflection and getting clarity.

“The buck stops with me as coach, but if the players don’t come back with the answers we’re looking for, then you have to react in terms of selection.

“Fortunately we’ve had positive reactions from the guilty parties from last weekend and we’ve trained well. We’ll have more cohesion because 80% of the team have been playing Currie Cup right through,” Fynn said.

As ever when playing the Cheetahs, Fynn said the key to the Sharks’ success lay in them not allowing veteran Springboks Francois Steyn and Ruan Pienaar to run the game for the Free Staters.

“The Cheetahs are a very settled group, they’ve kept the same combination through the tournament. We simply have to put them under pressure, bring the heat and force those key players to make decisions.

“We have to ensure we disrupt their quality ball and I don’t think it ever goes beyond dominating up front in South African rugby.

“The Cheetahs certainly know how to open the tap and close it, they manage the game well. They can play the throttle game – turn you and make you make mistakes.

“They are a settled combination at home, so it’s going to be a tough time in Bloemfontein,” Fynn admitted.

A hip-and-happening festival will be held in the stadium precincts and the Cheetahs, with such exciting players as Rosko Specman and Cohen Jasper in their backline, will be looking to play some festival rugby.


Free State Cheetahs – Cohen Jasper, Daniel Kasende, David Brits, Francois Steyn, Rosko Specman, Siya Masuku, Ruan Pienaar (C), Mihlali Mosi, Andisa Ntsila, Gideon van der Merwe, Victor Sekekete, Aidon Davis, Aranos Coetzee, Marnus van der Merwe, Schalk Ferreira. Bench: Cameron Dawson, Louis van der Westhuizen, Conraad van Vuuren, Ockie Barnard, Jeandrè Rudolph, Rewan Kruger, Reinhardt Fortuin, Chris Smit.

Sharks – Nevaldo Fleurs, Marnus Potgieter, Jeremy Ward (c), Murray Koster, Anthony Volmink, Boeta Chamberlain, Cameron Wright, Mpilo Gumede, Thembelani Bholi, Dylan Richardson, Hyron Andrews, Emile van Heerden, Lourens Adriaanse, Fez Mbatha, Khwezi Mona. Replacements: Dan Jooste, Dian Bleuler, Blaine Golden, Le Roux Roets, Nick Hatton, Mthokozisi Mkhabela, Tito Bonilla, Ethan Fisher.

Boks lauded as beacon of hope, don’t care that game-plan not respected 0

Posted on August 19, 2021 by Ken

While the Springboks have rightly been lauded, both locally and overseas, as being a beacon of true nation-building hope in this troubled land, their game-plan has earned less respect from foreign critics.

But backline coach Mzwandile Stick made it clear on Friday, on the eve of the first Test against the British and Irish Lions in Cape Town on Saturday, that they don’t care.

“We will never run away from our strengths. The All Blacks pass the ball a lot, that’s how they grew up as kids, but nobody says they must stop doing that. It’s the same with us, physicality is in our DNA, it’s in our genes. If we want to play lovely, free-flowing, running rugby then we have to earn that right. We’re very happy with the way we play.

“In 10 years time, people will only see the results and they won’t be worried about the style of rugby we played. Seventeen of our squad for the first Test were involved in the World Cup final and we have been more than three years with these guys. So we can’t be underdone,” Stick said on Friday.

While Lions coach Warren Gatland said South Africa’s ego had somehow been dented when SA A beat the tourists and some have painted the Springboks’ preparations as being chaotic due to Covid-19 cases and several injuries, Stick painted a picture of a squad that has been an island of focus, with even isolation being used to fine-tune their planning.

“We have made peace with the fact that these are very challenging times and the team that adapts best will have a better chance of winning. When you get guys like Siya Kolisi, Frans Malherbe, Bongi Mbonambi and Handre Pollard back in the squad then you can feel the vibe and energy goes to a totally different level. These are guys who know what it takes.

“They know how to switch on and they have proper, proper heads on their shoulders. That’s what coaches enjoy and we are excited about the first Test. Hopefully everything goes according to our plan. We are happy as a team about the SA A game because we came out on top in the most important stat – the scoreboard; we won the game. So I’m not sure why our ego would be dented,” Stick said.

Everitt an apostle of attacking rugby, but at times Sharks seemed set to get stuck on 12 log points 0

Posted on June 14, 2021 by Ken

The Sharks went into their match against the Lions needing a bonus point win to maintain their hopes of making the Rainbow Cup final and coach Sean Everitt is an apostle of attacking, positive rugby. But there were times when the helter-skelter Sharks seemed destined to get four tries but lose the game and so land on 12 log points, ensuring the Bulls cannot be caught in the last round next weekend.

In the end, the Sharks did eventually repel a gutsy Lions side in the last 10 minutes to register a 33-21 win and they can still win the competition if they beat the Bulls with a bonus point next weekend and don’t allow their visitors any log points.

The Sharks scored three tries in the first half but were still only 19-14 ahead at the break. Their first two tries came through lineout drives and were scored by hooker Kerron van Vuuren.

But their third would have thrilled their coach and was made by outstanding wing Makazole Mapimpi, the World Cup star who rather lorded it over everyone else on the field with a majestic display.

The Lions won a turnover but Sharks fullback Anthony Volmink fielded their kick downfield and had a dart, before passing to Mapimpi, who exploded through a tiny gap, and found scrumhalf Jaden Hendrikse, who miraculously held off several Lions defenders in mid-air, seemingly levitating as he popped the pass to eighthman Phepsi Buthelezi, another chief among the stars on the field, to score.

It was typical of the Lions, however, that they stayed in the game with a try by loose forward Len Massyn in the sixth minute of extra time.

Mapimpi scored himself eight minutes into the second half and this was just a stunning individual effort. The pass out wide had gone to ground so the Lions defence was set, but Mapimpi stepped and then burst, taking five defenders out of the game as he scored an exceptional try to stretch the lead to 24-14. Last October, the 30-year-old’s incredible off-field story was highlighted by the Chasing the Sun documentary, but in his current form he looks like beiing a sensation on the field in the British and Irish Lions series.

The Lions came back again with a rolling maul try by hooker PJ Botha, but the knockout blow by the Sharks came when replacement flyhalf Boeta Chamberlain regathered his own lovely little dink over the top and passed into space for Volmink to score.


LionsTries: Andre Warner, Len Massyn, PJ Botha. Conversions: Jordan Hendrikse (3).

SharksTries: Kerron van Vuuren (2), Phepsi Buthelezi, Makazole Mapimpi, Anthony Volmink. Conversions: Manie Libbok (3), Boeta Chamberlain.

Mark Boucher the coach 0

Posted on August 19, 2016 by Ken


Mark Boucher, the heartbeat of the South African team from the late 1990s to 2012, is hoping the experience and wisdom gained from all those years of playing and inspiring the changeroom will rub off on the new career of coach that he has chosen for himself, with the 39-year-old set to land the job as the new Titans mentor.

Boucher’s stellar career, in which he played 147 Tests and 295 ODIs and took the most dismissals in Test history, was ended on the 2012 tour of England when he suffered a serious eye injury after being hit by a bail in a warm-up game.

Since then Boucher has become a leading figure in rhino conservation and is with the Proteas squad in Durban at the moment, working as a consultant for the Test series against New Zealand. The Titans coaching job is the best-paid franchise post in the country and the Centurion-based team won two of the three domestic trophies on offer last season, so the famously nuggety cricketer has landed a high-profile role at the start of his coaching career.

‘I always said I would take five or six years off from the game and it’s been five years now so I’m ready to get involved again. I’m not sure where it’s going to take me, but I’ve always enjoyed imparting knowledge,” Boucher said this week when asked about his invitation to join the Proteas coaching staff.

“I’ve been through quite a few coaches and teams and cultures in my career, and also eras, I was part of the old Proteas team as well as the new. So the lessons I’ve learnt I’d be stupid not to use. I don’t really like the term ‘coach’, I’d like to be more of a man-manager. The game has changed and you see specialist coaches come in more these days,” Boucher said.

Although Boucher’s tenacity and competitiveness were his most famous attributes, he said he was also a student of the technical side of the game and would certainly bring that into his coaching.

“Even though people think of me more on the mental side, you pick up a few things behind the stumps, it provides a very good view. But I always used to sit behind the computer a lot too and look at opposing batsmen, I got a lot of knowledge that way, looking at head and hip positions because you’re trying to get these batsmen out.

“Being brought up in Border, where we didn’t have the best sides, you just had to make it work. Not every player in a team is going to have the technique of a Kallis or De Villiers, but that doesn’t mean he’s not a good player. You have to make do with what you’ve got, you can be technically sound but be lacking mentally, while someone like Graeme Smith didn’t have the greatest technique, but he had a very strong head,” Boucher pointed out.

Titans CEO Jacques Faul was unable to confirm Boucher’s appointment.

“The process has been completed and we have appointed a candidate that we feel can take the team forward and we will announce his name on Monday. Unfortunately we cannot speculate before that,” Faul said.

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