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Ken Borland

A penny for Lizo’s thoughts reveals his bitter disappointment 0

Posted on November 02, 2021 by Ken

Lizo Gqoboka’s face is an ever-smiling one, but if one had to offer the Bulls prop a penny for his thoughts after their loss to Connacht last weekend, he would have told you about his bitter disappointment, even though he scored a try and put in a stout individual performance.

“It was a tough one. I was happy about the try, but we lost the game so actually I was not happy. The team comes first and I can never be happy when we lose,” Gqoboka said this week as the Bulls try to rectify the mistakes they made in their 34-7 loss to Connacht ahead of their United Rugby Championship match against the Cardiff Blues on Saturday night.

“There are a couple of things we need to adjust to, mostly the conditions and the tempo. These European sides play differently and they are accurate in their execution.”

“We need to adjust and learn really quickly how to counter that tempo. But the focus is on ourselves and making sure we continue improving. Our attitude as Bulls is not to complain, but to adapt and grow.

“We always look at ourselves and even the guys who came on in the second half continued to fight and showed character. If we continue to improve than good results are on the way,” Gqoboka said.

While the match against Connacht was played in the old-fashioned venue of the Galway Greyhound Stadium (capacity 8129), which is open and allows the elements to take full force, the Bulls will be playing Cardiff on the high-tech 4G, artificial turf pitch at the Arms Park.

Bulls scrumhalf Zak Burger is a man who knows about playing in small venues missing the finer touches of a place like Loftus Versfeld as he moved to Pretoria from Griquas. He is looking forward to showing a bit more daring in better conditions for running rugby.

“A couple of times in Kimberley we would have a 40km/h wind in that open stadium and it made it very difficult in certain corners. Connacht used the wind really well last week in the second half and put us under big pressure.

“But as a scrumhalf I enjoy this 4G pitch in Cardiff a lot, you feel like you are running lighter, it’s nice to play on. I don’t know what the weather will be like on Saturday, but I hope it’s okay.

“We must use the conditions more and we are not far off, we’re getting our entries into the 22. But in the Currie Cup, where you get 10 chances and take five, in this competition you only get four and you have to take them all.

“If it’s wet and windy then we will have to kick more and we can’t run from our 22. We will have to put pressure on them with more tactical kicking. We need to play good rugby and attack where the space is,” Burger said.

Lizo was the new kid in town who is now up against the man about town who helped him 0

Posted on May 04, 2021 by Ken

When Lizo Gqoboka arrived in Montpellier on a short-term deal in September 2019, he was very much the new kid in town but there was a friendly South African fellow prop and man about town who helped him out considerably in Jannie du Plessis.

Gqoboka was signed by the French club as cover for the duration of the World Cup and stayed with the good doctor and his family in the city near the Mediterranean coast, and not only did Du Plessis show him the ropes at the club, but they also spent a lot of time discussing scrummaging.

And now on Saturday the Bulls loosehead prop and the veteran Springbok tighthead will be going to town on each other if they are both on the field at the same time when the Lions visit Loftus Versfeld in the opening round of the Rainbow Cup.

“I enjoy scrumming against Jannie, I did it a lot in training at Montpellier and we played against each other in the Currie Cup semifinal in January. So we know what each other can bring at scrum time, but with such experience, Jannie always has something in his back pocket. It’s difficult to scrum against a guy like him who has the attitude of always learning and getting better all the time.

“With Jannie there at the Lions, he plays a massive role in their scrum, he’s so experienced and very smart. It’s not just about power with him, you can feel it, he is very technically sound. So the young guys at the Lions like Carlu Sadie are really learning from him. The Lions scrum is very good, they have a good system and it’s going to be a nice challenge,” Gqoboka said on Tuesday.

But the Bulls scrum certainly have the credentials to win the crucial scrum battle this weekend, as they showed when they had the upper hand against the Lions in that Currie Cup semi-final and when they dominated the set-piece against the Sharks in the final. The home side might be without Springbok tighthead Trevor Nyakane due to injury, but Mornay Smith showed his ability to step up when he performed strongly off the bench in the two decisive Currie Cup matches.

“We know we can’t relax, every scrum is going to be a war so we have to show up and concentrate,” Gqoboka added.

More injury woe for Bulls coach Nollis Marais 0

Posted on February 11, 2016 by Ken



Nollis Marais could be forgiven for shouting “Woe is me!” from the top of the Loftus Versfeld grandstand given the way injuries have hampered his pre-season preparation and the Bulls coach suffered another blow on Wednesday when highly-rated prop Lizo Gqoboka went down with a groin injury.

Following hot on the heels of the devastating news that flyhalf playmaker Handre Pollard has been ruled out for the season with ruptured knee ligaments, Gqoboka pulled out of this weekend’s warm-up match against the Lions in Polokwane with a groin strain an hour after being named in the squad.

Gqoboka will be out of action for a couple of weeks, joining senior loose forwards Lappies Labuschagne and Deon Stegmann, as well as youthful flank Roelof Smit, on the sidelines.

“You nurse Handre Pollard for weeks with his shoulder injury and then in a normal passing drill he hurts his leg. He was obviously a huge part of our plans, and Lizo too, plus Lappies and Steggies are out too. But the other guys must now step up. It’s a mind switch and the other guys must just get on with it,” Marais said at Loftus Versfeld on Wednesday.

Marais announced his best available team for Saturday’s match against the Lions with Springbok hooker Adriaan Strauss, named as the Super Rugby captain, set to lead the franchise for the first time.

“It’s a great privilege for me and I seem to play better when responsibility is on my shoulders. We’ve lost Handre and Deon, who are both great leaders, but Rudi Paige has made a massive step up in terms of leadership. The team has a lot of respect for him, he has a lot of authority and he makes great calls,” Strauss said.

Jesse Kriel, who played fullback when he announced himself to the world stage in last year’s Super Rugby competition, has been named at outside centre by Marais, with the exciting Warrick Gelant in the number 15 jersey.

“I see Jesse as a number 13, he played there when I coached the U21s, and he is the Springbok outside centre, so that was the easiest position to slot in, he understands what we’re trying to do. I’m not too keen on him at fullback. Bjorn Basson is also an option at 15, and Jamba Ulengo could move into 11. Maybe we’ll do that for the last 15 minutes on Saturday,” Marais said.

When Francois Brummer returned to Loftus Versfeld in November for the first time since 2010 on loan from the Pumas, the 26-year-old could not have foreseen how vital he would be for the Bulls’ Super Rugby plans. But the former Waterkloof High School star is now the starting flyhalf with Tian Schoeman on the bench.

Team – Warrick Gelant, Travis Ismaiel, Jesse Kriel, Jan Serfontein, Bjorn Basson, Francois Brummer, Rudy Paige, Arno Botha, Hanro Liebenberg, Nic de Jager, Grant Hattingh, RG Snyman, Marcel van der Merwe, Adriaan Strauss, Trevor Nyakane. Replacements: Jaco Visagie, Lizo Gqoboka, Jason Jenkins, Jannes Kirsten, Piet van Zyl, Tian Schoeman, Burger Odendaal, Werner Kruger, Pierre Schoeman, Jamba Ulengo, Jade Stighling.


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