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Ken Borland

No oriental climes for Gelant as he wants to become a better player 0

Posted on September 19, 2022 by Ken

For current members of the Springbok squad, the decision to join an overseas club provides a couple of options: They can either earn a big pay packet but play less demanding rugby in oriental climes, or they can go to Europe, still earn plenty and compete in arguably the most competitive leagues in the world.

Warrick Gelant is forthright about his decision to join Racing 92 in France being all about becoming a better player; he is adamant playing for the Springboks is his ultimate and he wants a regular starting berth.

Last season was so special for him at the Stormers, being a key figure as they claimed a sensational United Rugby Championship crown, but Gelant is not one to stay in a comfort zone.

“Anytime you go to a top club it is an opportunity, and I believe the Top 14 is the best competition in the world. It’s really tough because there are 14 different teams in it, compared to just four franchises in South Africa,” Gelant says.

“You also play in such different conditions: You play indoors in a closed stadium at Racing, but then you’ll be in the rain and maybe even snow in your away matches.

“Every part of my game will be tested. I certainly don’t know it all yet, and it will be a great test to measure myself. And Racing have amazing management and they are a great club,” Gelant says.

“I feel I can still take my game up a notch, I can still get better now that my body has no issues. And I haven’t given up on the Springboks either.

“Being exposed to quality, world-class players in France every week will give me the best chance of getting back into the Springbok starting XV. If they do select me, they will be getting a better player than I was,” Gelant states.

There were times in last season’s United Rugby Championship that Gelant reminded one of South Africa’s Rolls Royce of fullbacks, 1995 World Cup hero Andre Joubert.

This year has been a triumph for the man known as “Boogie” – probably for both his threat as the boogie-man for defences and also his fast feet.

Gelant dazzled in counter-attack for the Stormers and was arguably the best fullback in the URC as the team that started the competition in disarray due to off-field problems ended up winning the trophy.

Gelant loved the season, not only because of the success, but also because of the style of rugby the Stormers played under coach John Dobson.

“We had to get accustomed to a new style of rugby and rules are blown differently in the UK. So we struggled initially, but at least we were together all the time overseas and we could sort things out,” Gelant says.

“Belief started to creep in when we saved the game against Edinburgh and then we beat the Dragons. Things started to work for us and we really started to believe we were getting somewhere.

“There was buy-in from everyone in terms of how we wanted to play and we really played for each other. So we ended up winning our last 11 games on the trot.

“The Irish and Welsh teams really stick to their systems, they are very tight and very driven by that, they rarely go out of their system. And that can really break you down.

“So we needed to disrupt their structure and we did that by not making our play too structured. We needed to find a way to handle chaos better than they did.

“We needed to understand what sort of game we wanted to play and if we wanted to kick. It was about how to handle territory and space and understand the opportunities that are there when play gets loose and making sure you can capitalise. It’s about the way everyone reacts and plays off each other,” Gelant said.

The Knysna-born player returned to the Cape in 2020, having made his name at the Bulls. But before this year, for much of Gelant’s time with the Stormers he seemed like a broken-down car languishing in the garage, rather than a Rolls Royce.

After the frustrations of Covid causing all rugby to be shelved, Gelant then suffered an ACL knee injury when play resumed. But that is when he really showed his mettle.

Gelant has fought back from double knee surgery at the end of 2020, which speaks volumes for his motivation and professionalism.

In order to ensure he would return to being the player he was, Gelant sacrificed playing against the British and Irish Lions last year in order to have both knees sorted out at the same time.

“I already had a hole in my one cartilage when I tore my ACL and I had been playing in severe pain. I had the opportunity to get the other knee fixed too, but that meant turning my back on the Lions tour,” Gelant explains.

“But I made a really mature decision to sacrifice in the short-term and fix both knees at the same time. It was not easy, but I believe I have a lot of rugby still in me. There were tough times in rehab, but I imagined myself coming back as a better player, moving better and being more mature.

“When I did come back for the Stormers, it felt amazing and I know I made the right decision. I quickly refound my old form. I was so grateful just to be playing again after double knee surgery. It can be taken away from you so easily,” the 27-year-old says.

FIH Pro League ideal avenue to measure SA progress – Ewing 0

Posted on March 01, 2022 by Ken

The FIH Pro League that will be hosted in Potchefstroom from Tuesday provides the South African men’s team with the ideal avenue of measuring their progress against the top hockey nations in the world, according to national coach Garreth Ewing.

South Africa will come up against India, the Netherlands and Germany, all inside the top-six on the world rankings, in the tournament that runs through to February 21 and features 14 matches, eight of them involving the hosts.

“It’s an amazing opportunity, although it will be incredibly tough,” Ewing told The Citizen. “But we’ve got to play against the very best in the world if we are going to find out what we need to grow as a team.

“You’re never going to play against teams in the top eight of the rankings without them being strong outfits, but teams in the Pro League do mix up their line-ups a bit.

“It’s often used an opportunity to expose new players because it’s considered the beginning of the next Olympic cycle. And that’s the same as what I’m doing. But the top sides will have their usual superstars here as well,” Ewing said.

South Africa’s squad will include three players who have graduated from the ‘pram’ of the SA U21 team into the senior game – Clayton Saker, Connor Beauchamp and Sihle Ngubane.

And the prodigies that are the Cassiem brothers – Dayaan and Mustapha – are both back in the fold.

Unfortunately, South Africa will be without their regular captain, Tim Drummond. Because hockey is strictly speaking an amateur sport in South Africa, many of the players don’t have much leeway when it comes to taking leave from their full-time jobs and the veteran midfielder has had to declare himself unavailable.

Fellow Olympian Keenan Horne takes over the captaincy, with Tuks star Bili Ntuli, a member of the national team since 2015, his deputy.

“There are a few changes, but we have the bulk of the Africa Cup squad that won the title last month,” Ewing said. “And we’re taking a 23-man squad to Potchefstroom because we have quite a few games in a short space of time.

“Leave has been a big issue for some guys, but that’s the nature of the sport in this country. So we are going to experience some serious pressures, but it’s more about the experience of playing really hard matches than the results.

“We’re going to have to pay a lot more attention to defence and tap into the counter-attacking strength we used so well in the Tokyo Olympics.

“We need to be a lot more comfortable on the ball under pressure, and this tournament is an invaluable opportunity to get experience of that,” Ewing said.

Kwagga says the Sevens graduates have a great skills base 0

Posted on July 05, 2021 by Ken

There have been a large number of players who have graduated from the Springbok Sevens side into the national 15-a-side team, but only three in the current squad preparing for the British and Irish Lions series. But loose forward Kwagga Smith and backline coach Mzwandile Stick both believe the shortened version of the game provides a great skills foundation for the major format of rugby.

Smith, Cheslin Kolbe and uncapped wing Rosko Specman are the Blitzbokke in the current squad, but there have been 60 players in total who have played for both national rugby teams. That total includes 13 World Cup winners.

“Sevens is a really good basis but you do need to learn quickly when you get to the Springboks. It’s so good to have that base when you are younger and I believe it’s a big advantage. You see someone like Rosko Specman has performed really well in XVs and now he’s doing well here in camp. He has a good mindset and is training hard. We also have Cheslin Kolbe, who is now one of the best wings in the world,” Smith said.

Stick, who has a major focus on the skills and vision of the Springbok team, played 37 events for the Blitzbokke between 2003 and 2010, and is understandably a fan of what those players can bring to the party.

“I’ve got a soft spot when it comes to Sevens players. It’s very good to see the connection between the XVs and Sevens game. You look at someone like Cheslin Kolbe coming through that system and he’s now one of the best rugby players in the world. You look at Rosko Specman and how good he was in Super Rugby.

“It’s actually good to see that the guys from the Sevens system are making it. In the past, it was always a matter of size being the reason they’re sidelined. Gone are those days now and guys are playing with a big heart. You can see how well the likes of Kolbe are really playing the game and it shows that size doesn’t matter,” Stick said recently.

Heinrich Brussow is another of those who progressed from international Sevens rugby to stardom with the Springboks and the way he pounced and swarmed all over the ball the last time the British and Irish Lions were here in 2009, it is no surprise that under the Chinese Zodiac, he was born in the Year of the Tiger (July 1986).

Smith, who played 32 events for the Blitzbokke, is hopeful of doing a similar job.

“I was watching that series in high school in Middelburg and I remember Heinrich did so well, he was one of my role-models, he performed really well in that series. I am going to try and get up to his standards, but remembering that I am my own player and have my own assets,” Smith said.

Blitzbokke who have become 15-a-side Springboks (*= World Cup winner)

Gio Aplon, Chris Badenhorst, Selborne Boome, Gerrie Britz, Warren Britz, Heinrich Brussow, Tonderai Chavhanga, Vlok Cilliers, Jannie Claassens, Bolla Conradie, Juan de Jongh, *Jean de Villiers, Gaffie du Toit, Grant Esterhuizen, Kabamba Floors, *Warrick Gelant, Hendrik Gerber, Joe Gillingham, *Bryan Habana, Cornal Hendricks, Henry Honiball, Francois Hougaard, Adrian Jacobs, Conrad Jantjes, *Andre Joubert, Ryan Kankowski, Deon Kayser, *Cheslin Kolbe, *Ruben Kruger, Ricardo Loubscher, Lionel Mapoe, Jorrie Muller, *Akona Ndungane, Dick Muir, Jongi Nokwe, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Jacques Olivier, Deon Oosthuyzen, Breyton Paulse, *Andre Pretorius, Jaco Pretorius, Kevin Putt, *Adriaan Richter, Earl Rose, Pieter Rossouw, Brent Russell, *Bob Skinstad, *Kwagga Smith, Phillip Smit, Andre Snyman, Jamba Ulengo, *Joost van der Westhuizen, Joe van Niekerk, Andre Venter, AJ Venter, Jano Vermaak, Luke Watson, Warren Whiteley, *Ashwin Willemse, *Chester Williams.

Williams provides insight into how hard it has been for Proteas ‘toddlers’ 0

Posted on April 13, 2021 by Ken

Proteas pace bowler Lizaad Williams provides some insight into how difficult it has been for all the new players included for the series against Pakistan to step up to the plate when he said on Tuesday that he feels like “a toddler going into primary school”.

Williams has been one of three debutants during the T20 series, while half-a-dozen fringe players have also been pressed into action in the two formats to cover for players who have left for the IPL and those who are injured. While the ODI series was lost 2-1, all three games were close, and the T20 series is level at 1-1 following South Africa’s overwhelming victory in the second match, heading into the third game at Centurion on Wednesday.

“It’s been an unbelievable experience and I’m really honoured to represent my country at the highest level, and being able to contribute in the second game after the first match did not go to plan. But there are still two big games coming up. And I am still trying to figure out the intensity of international cricket, I’m still very much in a learning phase.

“I feel like a toddler going into primary school, I’m just observing everything and trying to take it all in. The difference in intensity is the biggest thing, probably the biggest lesson that the margin for error is much smaller. The batsmen don’t give their wickets away easily, they grind you out. So at training you have to try and match that intensity,” Williams said on Tuesday.

The Proteas bowling was outstanding in the second T20 as they restricted Pakistan to 140 for nine, which the home side chased down in the 14th over with six wickets in hand. Williams said the mental side of the bowlers’ game was much stronger, giving them a template for what to do in Wednesday’s crucial game.

“The biggest thing was the clarity in your mind when you go up to bowl. You have to commit 100% to the delivery and not think too far ahead about what the end result will be. In the first game I got caught up a bit in what the end result would be, but you should just be thinking about executing to the best of your ability. It was actually a bit easier to make your debut with no crowd.

“I would enjoy the crowd to be there, but in those very nervous moments they bring a bit of added pressure and you just want clarity of mind in those moments. But at the start of my professional career, I played two seasons with Charl Langeveldt in Cape Town and I learnt so much, so I’m very excited to be working with the bowling coach again,” Williams said.

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    Don’t be so busy – even working for God – that you don’t have regular quiet time. Don’t let your activities become more important than your time with the Father. You can be alive ‘for’ God without experiencing the presence and power of the living Christ.

    “Attempting to serve the Lord without the strength of the Holy Spirit results in frustration and ultimate disaster.

    “If your vision of him grows dim, your service will become powerless and ineffective. This will happen if your spiritual reserves are not regularly replenished through prayer and meditation.

    “You must put him first in all your activities. Your service for him must be the result of your intimate knowledge of him. Only when he enjoys priority in all things, can you understand life from his perspective. Putting Christ first in your life and work makes you a more capable servant of God.” – A Shelter From The Storm, Solly Ozrovech

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