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Ken Borland

Powerhouse Lions field top-class outfit for T20 opener 0

Posted on May 10, 2024 by Ken

A “powerhouse” DP World Lions men’s team are determined to claim a second trophy this season as they start their CSA T20 Challenge campaign against the GBets Rocks in Johannesburg on Friday night, and they will be fielding a top-class outfit.

The #PrideOfJozi boast a couple of players named in the Betway SA20 Team of the Tournament in Ryan Rickelton and Wiaan Mulder, there is a thrilling prospect of Kagiso Rabada and his protégé Kwena Maphaka sharing the new ball, and a wonderful batting line-up with other Proteas stars in Reeza Hendricks, Rassie van der Dussen and Temba Bavuma.

Apart from Rickelton and Mulder blazing a trail in the SA20, the DP World Lions are guided by a coach in Russell Domingo who has played a key role in the Sunrisers Eastern Cape winning back-to-back titles as their batting coach. The experienced Domingo will know exactly how to play winning T20 cricket in South Africa.

Rickelton, who was the leading run-scorer in the SA20 with 530 runs at an average of 58.89 and a strike-rate of 173.77, is setting a confident tone right up front.

“We will have a full squad, barring KG when he goes to the IPL, so we have a powerhouse team, obviously we’re going to put our names up for the overall win. We would be upset if we don’t get that far and we’re really looking forward to it after winning the four-day title, which was a big incentive for us because we haven’t won that in a while,” Rickelton said.

“While the tournament was obviously a major let-down for us at MI Cape Town, I have clarity about my batting. Coach Robbie [Peterson] was quite decisive about what he wanted us to do and we really strived to win the powerplay. So I had to execute my role as well as I can with Rassie, because of the power we had to come behind.

“The opportunity was there to really take the game on there up front, to really maximise the powerplay. I had the freedom to fail and I just tried to keep it simple, while training specifics. Now I want to make sure I make an impact for the Lions, that is hugely important for me,” Rickelton said.

All-rounder Mulder earned a spot in the SA20 Team of the Tournament mostly for his batting, where he averaged a healthy 37.13 and scored at a dynamic 157.14, continuing what has been a top-class summer with the bat. Mulder shone as a finisher, but also as a safeguard who could come in during the powerplay and lay a platform for the spectacular hitting of Heinrich Klaasen.

Mulder said he went into the competition with confidence, thanks to, again, the freedom given him by the DP World Lions coaches, and a clear job description from Durban Super Giants coach Lance Klusener.

“Russell Domingo and Hashim Amla have been incredible for my game, they have really motivated me and allowed me to just go and play, to break the shackles. Because of them I took a lot of confidence into the SA20.

“I discovered a couple of new things about my game during the tournament. I worked really hard on playing spin and finishing, which is a part of the game Mark Boucher told me he didn’t think I had when he was Proteas coach. I spent quite a lot of time working with Heinrich and Dwaine Pretorius, but I’m never going to be that type of batter, having a perfect swing and getting carried away hitting sixes.

“But I can hit space and I can score different sorts of boundaries, I can still score 50 off 25 balls. Lance backs me quite a lot, my technique gave me the opportunity to bat in the top five and my role was to face quite a lot of balls and protect Heinrich. You can get some real jaffas in the powerplay, but you can play with a lot of freedom afterwards,” Mulder said.

With the players that the Lions have, playing at a fast-action venue like the DP World Wanderers Stadium, and with so many of them knowing exactly what to do to win T20 games, there is no reason why our Pride should not back themselves to bring home another trophy.

Jake critical of budgetary imbalances & lucrative sale of SA players overseas 0

Posted on May 04, 2023 by Ken

Bulls coach Jake White was critical on Tuesday of the sale of South African rugby players for lucrative amounts to overseas clubs, pointing out that it is budgetary imbalances that have forced him to send a largely second-string outfit to do battle against the Exeter Chiefs at Sandy Park in their second Champions Cup match.

White had been expected to bring back his big guns for the trip to south-west England, especially after his back-up players did such a superb job in beating Lyon at Loftus Versfeld last weekend. But the fact that the Bulls have to travel to Cape Town next week for a crucial United Rugby Championship clash with the Stormers, and it is a short week because they will only arrive back on Monday for a Friday night game, has led the coach to stick with the bulk of the side from last week.

“We’re playing against teams who have a budget of R180 million compared to our R70 million. The list goes on-and-on of Saffers doing really well overseas and if we could find ways of bringing them into our regional squads then we would be fighting a gunfight with a gun,” White said on Tuesday.

“So I will choose the same sort of team as last week, because we have to travel back on economy class and then go to Cape Town to play the Stormers next Friday night. We will only arrive back midday Monday.

“I’m not trying to take anything away from an Exeter side we respect, but we have to make sure we’re at our best against the Stormers. I would like to do well in both competitions, but I am a realist.

“There’s no way we can beat Exeter away and then the Stormers away in less than a full week. We can only use the resources we have, if we were playing the Stormers in a different week then I would definitely take other guys,” White said.

Sending a second-string outfit to Exeter is perhaps a shrewd move because it means there is no pressure on the Bulls, and the home side will know any slip-up will echo through the league and leave them possibly needing to beat White’s men at Loftus Versfeld in mid-January, which will be a tough ask.

The Stormers are also under pressure to win at home this weekend, due to their loss in France, meaning their leading Springboks might have to front up twice in seven days.

“Exeter will be a big test for us, they’re a great team full of internationals, but they will also know that they have to get it right, there’s no way they’ll be thinking it will be an easy outing,” White said.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity for us, in front of a massive crowd, to experience again what it’s like in a pressure situation, that’s where we’ll grow as a group.

“I expect the team to just give it a fair crack, give it as good a go as we can. You often talk about it ‘not getting tougher than this’, but this time it genuinely can’t get tougher.

“But I expect us to roll up our sleeves and embrace the fact that it is tough, give it as good a shot as we can. Every time this group has been challenged, they have accepted it, and often achieved it,” White said.

Bulls Squad:Dylan Smith, Bismarck du Plessis, Sebastian Lombard, Reinhardt Ludwig, Janko Swanepoel, Nizaam Carr, Muller Uys, WJ Steenkamp, Bernard van der Linde, Morne Steyn, Stravino Jacobs, Carlton Bannies, Stedman Gans, Sibongile Novuka, Lizo Gqoboka, Joe van Zyl, Jacques van Rooyen, Merwe Olivier, Cameron Hanekom, Phumzile Maqondwana, Tielman Nieuwoudt, Keagan Johannes, Chris Smit, Niel le Roux, Kabelo Mokoena, Juan Mostert, Wandisile Simelane, Tian Lange.

Munster missing couple of stars, but still have plenty momentum – McNamara 0

Posted on October 13, 2021 by Ken

Munster might be missing a couple of their star players for their United Rugby Championship opener on Saturday, but Sharks attack coach Noel McNamara says Johann van Graan’s outfit will still have plenty of momentum behind them at Thomond Park.

Springboks RG Snyman and Damian de Allende will obviously not be playing, but there has been speculation that British and Irish Lions tourists Tadhg Beirne and Conor Murray are also not available. But Munster have been one of the powerhouses of Irish rugby and they have looked sharp in their pre-season matches.

“Munster are a very settled and successful side with South African coaches in Johan van Graan and JP Ferreira. They have been really consistent in the Pro14 and they are a momentum team, when they get momentum they are very difficult to stop. They will present a lot of challenges to us, but there’s a lot of excitement in our squad and we are looking forward to the challenge.

“That’s what the best players are motivated by – playing against the best. Munster have a big squad with a number of internationals in various positions and some very good youngsters coming through. Maybe Tadhg and Conor and a couple of Springboks won’t be there, but we won’t have any false sense of security. A young Munster team ran out very easy winners over Exeter in a warm-up game last weekend,” McNamara, who knows Munster well from his time as Leinster Academy Manager, said on Tuesday.

McNamara said playing in Europe offers the Sharks a great opportunity to show how adaptable they are, especially when it comes to the crucial breakdown battle.

“We will certainly have to adapt to referees in the United Rugby Championship, because it is a competition featuring different countries and different referees from those countries. So you can’t say this or that will be the way the competition will be blown. On any given day, you start from zero and you have to adapt and show good pictures to the referee.

“Munster are very strong over the ball, they have a high rate of turnovers, and against a jackal-based team like that you have to be on-point. In the Rainbow Cup they made an average of seven turnovers per game, so we’ve got to be accurate. And they have a variety of kickers available to them, a number of kicking threats, so it’s not just about shutting them down in one area,” McNamara warned.

Rejigged Bulls know how tough it is to tame rough & ready Griquas 0

Posted on August 25, 2021 by Ken

Anyone who watches Griquas play rugby knows that they are a side that may be a little rough around the edges but they go all-in with everything they do, and their high-flying third position on the Currie Cup log is the reward for their determination. Bulls coach Jake White certainly knows how difficult they are to tame even though he will be fielding a rejigged outfit against them at Loftus Versfeld on Wednesday afternoon.

Centre Lionel Mapoe, wing Kurt-Lee Arendse, flank Arno Botha and prop Gerhard Steenekamp all return to the starting line-up, while tighthead Jacques van Rooyen and the highly-rated utility forward Jacques du Plessis, who has returned to Pretoria from Montpellier, are on the bench.

“We’ve picked a strong team with a couple of guys coming back from injury, because Griquas are not easy to play against. Griquas are really enjoying their season, they’ve done phenomenally well and have had big wins away from home. Every contest on the field they go in with 100% commitment. They have good players who are playing well. My first game coaching the Bulls was against Griquas here at Loftus Versfeld and we were 10-0 down very quickly,” White said on Tuesday.

Both the Bulls and Griquas are coming off defeats last weekend, but the defending Currie Cup champions were probably more annoyed by the way they were ripped apart amidships by the Sharks in the third quarter, when they went from being 20-13 up to trailing 32-20.

“If you’re not on top of your game then you can be on the receiving end, that’s the fantastic thing about sport. If you’re not winning you’re learning, so that will be a learning curve for us. We need to understand pressure cycles better, we managed to build pressure but we didn’t seem to understand that we had the opposition by the throat. But you only learn to understand those things on the field,” White said.

Bulls team – David Kriel, Cornal Hendricks, Lionel Mapoe, Harold Vorster, Kurt-Lee Arendse, Johan Goosen, Zak Burger, Elrigh Louw, Arno Botha, Marcell Coetzee, Ruan Nortje, Walt Steenkamp, Mornay Smith, Schalk Erasmus, Gerhard Steenekamp. Bench:Jan-Hendrik Wessels, Simphiwe Matanzima, Jacques van Rooyen, Janko Swanepoel, Jacques du Plessis, Keagan Johannes, Chris Smith, Stedman Gans.

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