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Ken Borland

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.

Twist on old joke about Sharks staying with family in Bloem as Cheetahs visit Durban to make sure Powell’s team ready for Cardiff 0

Posted on February 28, 2023 by Ken

There was a twist last weekend on the old joke about where do the Sharks team stay when they play Free State in Bloemfontein (Answer: With their family) when the Cheetahs visited Durban for a friendly match, but the goal was very serious – making sure they are ready to fire when they return to United Rugby Championship action against the Cardiff Blues at Kings Park on Sunday.

The Sharks last played on October 30 in a disappointing defeat to the Bulls in Pretoria, which leaves them eighth on the log, so it is important they hit the ground running and maintain their five-match unbeaten home run against a tough and highly capable Cardiff team.

“Three weeks off without being in a game situation would maybe have caused us to be rusty this weekend, but fortunately we were able to organise a friendly against the Cheetahs,” director of rugby Neil Powell explained on Friday.

“It was a very good exercise, playing three halves of 30 minutes each, with full-out contact. A guy like Lionel Cronje, who could move into flyhalf on Sunday, was able to get some game-time, as did other guys who have not played a lot.

“Hopefully that means we have more flow and momentum on Sunday and we have to make sure we are up and ready against a really good, quality Cardiff team, who are defensively very strong and have lots of experience.

“We will have to make sure we manage our game well and are very disciplined, because Cardiff score the majority of their tries from the lineout and maul and we can’t be giving penalties away,” Powell said.

The new head honcho at Kings Park acknowledged that the Sharks always seem to be well-prepared for games but then for some reason don’t deliver the same clinical execution come match day. It is something they have identified as needing to be put right so they do not suffer two defeats in a row.

“The whole week we prepared so well for the Bulls but it did not carry over on to the field on match day. So the big focus is that: Carrying what we have done in our training sessions on to the playing field.

“We need the same effort, execution and consistency. I believe it’s a focus thing and we need to get the individual roles right in the structure.

“That wasn’t great against the Bulls, for some reason we didn’t focus enough on getting those basics done. We need to be present in the moment and firstly, understand all our roles and responsibilities,” Powell said.

Sharks: Anthony Volmink, Marnus Potgieter, Francois Venter, Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Werner Kok, Boeta Chamberlain, Cameron Wright, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Vincent Tshituka,

James Venter (CAPT), Gerbrandt Grobler, Justin Basson, Carlu Sadie, Kerron van Vuuren, Dian Bleuler. Bench – Dan Jooste, Khwezi Mona, Khutha Mchunu, Hyron Andrews, Phepsi Buthelezi, Bradley Davids, Lionel Cronje, Ben Tapuai.

Etzebeth up from the Cape & Sharks expect superhero stuff from him 0

Posted on December 30, 2022 by Ken

Eben Etzebeth is up from the Cape and excited to be making his Sharks debut against Glasgow Warriors at Kings Park on Saturday, with coach Sean Everitt expecting some superhero stuff from the Springbok legend as the home side look to lay down the law up front from the start against their Scottish opposition.

Etzebeth is joining his fellow former Stormers legends Siya Kolisi and Bongi Mbonambi, both of whom will come off the bench and give Glasgow no respite from the physical onslaught.

“Eben is the best lock in the world and we are starting with him because we want to improve our lineout and our ball-carrying ability,” Everitt said on Friday. “A good start is going to be crucial for us.

“He is very excited to be part of the Sharks, he’s settled in well and made Durban his home. He’s in a good place and looks at home. Eben will bring a wealth of experience and leadership, and the younger guys can really learn from him.

“Glasgow have an extremely good lineout, they have some tall timber, and we learnt that the hard way last season. They like to speed the game up and they blew the Bulls away with that pace last weekend.

“They’ll be aggressive at the breakdown too and they like to love the ball around, but a 4G pitch is a lot quicker than grass and I’m sure playing at Kings Park will be a challenge for them,” Everitt said.

With the Sharks now back in town after they began their United Rugby Championship campaign on tour, Etzebeth is one of six current Springboks that will unleashed in Durban on Saturday.

Jaden Hendrikse is back to drive things from scrumhalf, and prop Ox Nche and wing Makazole Mapimpi are also on the bench, so the Sharks will be targeting high-intensity play for 80 minutes, if not high-speed.

“It makes for a very strong match-day 23,” Everitt said. “We are blessed with our front row resources and we have Ox, Bongi and Carlu Sadie to call on off the bench, which will certainly help our cause.

“It’s also better to get Vincent Tshituka back into the mix at flank sooner rather than later after injury. He was the top flank in the URC last season and having him and Eben will certainly improve our lineout options.”

SharksAphelele Fassi, Werner Kok, Marnus Potgieter, Ben Tapuai, Anthony Volmink, Boeta Chamberlain, Jaden Hendrikse, Phepsi Buthelezi, Vincent Tshituka, Dylan Richardson, Hyron Andrews, Eben Etzebeth, Thomas du Toit (c), Kerron van Vuuren, Ntuthuko Mchunu. Bench: Bongi Mbonambi, Ox Nche, Carlu Sadie, Reniel Hugo, Siya Kolisi, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Cameron Wright, Makazole Mapimpi.

SA forever making a mess of 50-over World Cup campaigns 0

Posted on December 29, 2022 by Ken

South Africa are forever making a mess of their 50-over Cricket World Cup campaigns, but they have decided to shake things up a bit for the 2023 event by putting themselves under extra pressure just to qualify.

But scarred and cynical Proteas fans can relax just a little because the situation is not as bad as has been depicted by some pundits on TV and elsewhere.

Yes, the Proteas are currently in a lowly 11th place in the Super League qualifying standings. And given that South Africa have controversially conceded their three scheduled Super League ODIs in Australia in January to instead focus on the new SA20, they have five matches left in which to sneak into the top-eight. Those games are all at home – three against England and two versus the Netherlands. The Proteas already started playing the Netherlands last November, with the first ODI rained out and the next two postponed until next year due to Covid.

West Indies are occupying eighth spot at the moment, on 88 points, but they have completed their roster of 24 matches. South Africa are on 59 points, and with 10 points being awarded for each win, they are three victories away from overhauling the West Indies.

But Sri Lanka and Ireland stand between the Proteas and the West Indies and are also still in the running to finish in the top-eight.

Ireland are on 68 points and have three games left, hosting against Bangladesh next May, so if they sweep that series then they can reach 98 points. In that case, South Africa will need to win four of their last five games to get past them.

Sri Lanka, on 62 points, have six fixtures remaining – three in New Zealand and three at home against Afghanistan. Basically, however many wins they get, South Africa will need one more.

If they fail to finish in the top-eight, then the Proteas will head off to Zimbabwe next June for the final qualifier, the bottom five teams in the Super League joining five other sides, and the top two qualifying for the World Cup.

“It’s not ideal,” outgoing coach Mark Boucher admitted, “but we haven’t always had continuity in the ODI team, what with players going to the IPL and Covid, and that has caused inconsistency.

“But we know what is required against England and the Netherlands next year, and if we don’t make it then we just have to accept that we have to go to the qualifier and man up there.”

The Proteas are now leaving India for another World Cup – the T20 version in Australia. It is a long time and there will be much cricket played before they see ODI action again, and perhaps the mood around the team will be very different, hopefully triumphant.

What is sure though, is that there will be outrage if they don’t find their way back to the sandy pitches of India in a year’s time for the 50-over World Cup.

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