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Ken Borland

Bavuma admits notorious chokers tag will now be hung around his Proteas’ necks 0

Posted on February 06, 2023 by Ken

Proteas captain Temba Bavuma did not explicitly say it was another case of South Africa choking at a cricket world cup after their shock loss to the Netherlands saw them eliminated from the T20 showpiece on Sunday, but he did admit that notorious tag would now be hung around their necks, like so many of their predecessors.

Needing to just beat qualifiers the Netherlands to make the semi-finals, the Proteas instead came out flat and uninspired, allowing the Dutch to post a challenging 158/4, and then batting limply to only manage 145/8 in reply.

“That tag will always be there until we get to a final and come out on the right side of it,” Bavuma said in the aftermath. “We have nothing else to blame, everything was in our own hands.

“We had the confidence, the belief and the form behind us, but when it mattered we just couldn’t do the business. There needs to be an element of learning to make sure young guys like Tristan Stubbs and Marco Jansen don’t make the same mistakes in future.

“But we are still going to carry that monkey on our backs, that tag. We knew we had to win the game, but I didn’t feel any different type of pressure personally.

“It’s very hard to say it was different because we knew we had to beat India and we won that game. We had the opportunity to make the semi-finals and we just did not take it,” Bavuma said.

Of his own future in the shortest format, Bavuma said he will park any decision on the captaincy until a new fulltime coach is appointed. The skipper admitted that all the speculation over his own poor batting form had also been unsettling.

“It’s been a tricky time and to consider the captaincy now, a lot of my thinking would be emotional. I probably will think about it and speak to the relevant people.

“We have to see who comes in as coach, generally the new person coming in might want a different leader to execute their vision. But I think I carried myself with dignity through the good and bad times.

“Mentally all the talk does affect you. You try to manage your mental space as much as you can, unfortunately social media and whatever is said about you, always seems to get to you no matter how you try to control it.

“I’ve tried to keep a level head through the good and bad times and stay as close to myself as possible. Not just for myself but for the group, who will now take a lot of flak, and rightfully so,” Bavuma said.

Everitt tells Sharks ‘focus on yourselves’ not underdogs’ tag 0

Posted on July 11, 2022 by Ken

The Springbok-laden Sharks are happy to take the underdogs’ tag into their United Rugby Championship quarterfinal against the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday, even though coach Sean Everitt said it did not matter much and the most important thing in a knockout match was to “focus on yourselves”.

Everitt named a team on Friday with nine Springboks in the starting line-up, while the Bulls have four Springboks in their squad, none of them incumbents.

Little wonder then that the Sharks coach did not put much store in the underdogs tag, even if his players have been fired up by it.

“Being called the underdog probably suits us and the players are very motivated by it,” Everitt said. “The Bulls are a formidable team to target at home, but fortunately we’ve had success in Pretoria and we are not too daunted by it.

“You have to focus on yourselves in quarterfinals because anyone from No.1 to No.8 can win. When you reach the knockouts, it’s about being in it.

“We’ve played good rugby along the way, and unfortunately not getting the result we wanted against Ulster does not make us a bad team. We’re taking a lot of confidence into this game, especially because of our success in the URC against the Bulls.

“Anything can happen on the day, we just have to make sure we focus on our processes and our discipline. And we can’t have soft moments in defence,” Everitt said.

Apart from defensive solidity, the Sharks are going to require a continuation of their recent set-piece dominance over the Bulls and composure under pressure.

“The Bulls have improved their set-piece, but we need that dominance in a knock-out game. That, defence and territory are the three important things and you need all of them.

“The Bulls have really developed their attack well since we beat them in February, they counter-attack well and their kick-return metres have almost doubled. But there are still opportunities for us there.

“At times we have performed really well, but there have been some unfortunate slip-ups. Some of those were controllable, others were not.

“But as a whole we have improved as a team and I am very happy with where we are at. It’s very important for our big players to stand up, their experience is going to be important to bring that calmness we need to be able to focus,” Everitt said.

Sharks: Aphelele Fassi, Werner Kok, Lukhanyo Am, Marius Louw, Makazole Mapimpi, Curwin Bosch, Jaden Hendrikse, Phepsi Buthelezi, Henco Venter, Siya Kolisi, Reniel Hugo, Le Roux Roets, Thomas du Toit (CAPT), Bongi Mbonambi, Ox Nche, Replacements:  Kerron van Vuuren, Ntuthuko Mchunu, Khutha Mchunu, Ruben van Heerden, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Grant Williams, Boeta Chamberlain, Ben Tapuai.

Sharks see golden opportunity to make their mark in Europe 0

Posted on July 05, 2022 by Ken

The Sharks are happy to cede the favourites’ tag to the Bulls for their United Rugby Championship quarterfinal at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday, but there is no doubt they see the match as a golden opportunity to make their mark in Europe by reaching the semi-finals and probably taking on Champions Cup runners-up Leinster.

The Champions Cup final last weekend was a thrilling affair with La Rochelle edging Leinster 24-21 in Marseille, the French club lifting the trophy thanks to a 79th-minute try. The exciting conclusion was then overshadowed by the extraordinary celebrations in the seaport city on the Atlantic coast.

Those celebrations were seen by the Sharks and gave a taste of the passion they will encounter when they play in the Champions Cup next season.

“That trophy tour by La Rochelle was unbelievable and we know how much hard work goes into winning a competition like that,” Sharks captain Thomas du Toit said on Tuesday.

“There is an expectation from the players that that’s where we want to be competing and we have definitely put ourselves in a position to do that.

“We recognise that the Bulls are probably favourites on Saturday, but that also puts a target on their backs. The Bulls have really got into their stride lately, but we are bettering ourselves every week.

“We’ve had a few hiccups, but we are really going forward now. We have a certain level of confidence going there, yes, altitude makes a difference, but we overcame that last time there,” Du Toit said.

Having struggled to handle the Bulls in the early days of Jake White’s tenure, the Sharks now have two successive wins against their great rivals under their belts. Du Toit and his men were just a couple of points away from finishing in the top three and securing home ground privileges for themselves, but they have embraced the challenges of playing away from home.

“Our best option was playing at home, but next best is staying in South Africa,” Du Toit said. “It’s still going to be a difficult task at Loftus, we’re not underestimating anything.

“Subconsciously, things definitely change when it’s knockout rugby and you’re lying to yourself if you say there is not an extra level of pressure. But it’s good to have, to know it’s do-or-die.

“Normally this squad, when it has its backs against the ropes, knows the only way is to fight our way out. It’s good pressure, we live for it, it’s more exciting to have this different pressure. Embracing it makes it easier to handle.

“We expect the Bulls to have one or two variations at their mauls and lineouts and they’ll be aiming for a stable base at the scrum. They have put some new arrows in their quiver and are not one-dimensional,” Dui Toit warned.

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    Persevere in your service as Christ did – through obstacles, disappointment and adversity, and never give up hope.

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