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Ken Borland



Powell stays at Kings Park base but optimistic Sharks stand-ins will return from Galway with the points 0

Posted on November 08, 2023 by Ken

Sharks head coach Neil Powell has stayed behind at the team’s Kings Park base but is optimistic that his stand-in, Currie Cup mentor Joey Mongalo, will be able to return from Galway with the points although they are taking on tricky Connacht with a second-string side.

While Powell and most of the first-choice stars in the Sharks squad are focusing on the crucial Champions Cup match against Bordeaux-Begles next week, just three Springboks are in the squad to play Connacht, with three potential URC debutants on the bench.

Ntuthuko Mchunu will anchor the scrum (with Carlu Sadie), Rohan Janse van Rensburg will bring plenty of punch to the midfield, and scrumhalf Grant Williams is a potentially lethal substitute.

Former Free State Cheetahs lock Ockie Barnard, Currie Cup utility forward Corne Rahl and former Westville Boys High centre Ethan Hooker could be thrown into the deep end, with The Sports Ground being a daunting venue to play, especially in midwinter. Young Nevaldo Fleurs is the starting flyhalf, with Lionel Cronje on the bench.

“We see this as an all-round opportunity to develop and Joey has the chance to show what he is capable of. He’s been at that level before as the Bulls’ defence coach,” director of rugby Powell said on Friday.

“Joey is a great person and coach, he’s full of energy and I know he will definitely motivate and fire up the guys. We have tasked them with coming back with the points.

“It’s important for us to manage our squad well, this selection is part of our rotation policy. If I look at our travel schedule over the next few weeks then I cannot imagine one team playing all those games.

“We want as much as energy as possible when we get to games 10 and 11 of this block, this is number seven, so we’re in the middle of it. We also want to create squad depth,” Powell said.

Before the Sharks eventually disband on February 4 for a one-week break, they host Bordeaux in the Champions Cup in Durban next weekend, and then travel to Harlequins. They return to URC action against Edinburgh on January 28, before returning home for a vital home derby against the Stormers on February 3.

Connacht are up first though and they are a difficult team to break down, especially at home.

“It’s a tough place to play, a lot of teams go there with strong teams, hoping for a win, but they don’t get it,” Powell said. “You have to battle it out for the full 80 minutes against Connacht.

“In a lot of games they have come back to win in the last 20 minutes, so we have to make sure we don’t tap out before the final whistle.

“They are very physical and really direct and they don’t go away. They manage the game well, especially with their kicking, and they are familiar with their own conditions and play towards that.”

Sharks: Anthony Volmink, Yaw Penxe, Murray Koster, Rohan Janse Van Rensburg, Marnus Pogieter, Nevaldo Fleurs, Cameron Wright, Celimpilo Gumede, Henco Venter, James Venter, Reniel Hugo (c), Thembelani Bholi, Carlu Sadie, Fez Mbatha, Ntuthuko Mchunu. Bench – Kerron van Vuuren, Dian Bleuler, Khutha Mchunu, Ockie Barnard, Corne Rahl, Grant Williams, Lionel Cronje, Ethan Hooker.

Jake able to choose his returning Springboks 0

Posted on March 14, 2023 by Ken

Jake White has been able to choose his returning Springboks for Saturday’s tricky United Rugby Championship clash with Cardiff at Loftus Versfeld, but he knows management of his playing resources is going to be crucial as the Bulls head into a busy Christmas month of rugby.

It is unchartered territory for the Bulls, and all the South African URC franchises, as they are simply not used to playing rugby at this time of year. Last December the Omicron variant of Covid put the tournament on hold, but this year the Bulls will visit the Stormers two days before Christmas and will be playing the Sharks in Durban on the last day of the year.

After taking on Cardiff, the Bulls will make their European Professional Club Rugby bow by hosting Olympique Lyon and then visiting the Exeter Chiefs in the Champions Cup. But instead of perhaps resting them after the Springboks’ end-of-year tour, White has named flank Marco van Staden, flyhalf Johan Goosen, wing Canan Moodie and fullback Kurt-Lee Arendse in the starting XV to take on Cardiff.

“It’s wonderful for us to have the Springboks back, it gives us a good team to take on a very good Cardiff side, who have beaten both the Stormers and the Sharks,” White said on Friday.

“Those Boks have done well, pulling off a massive win over England at Twickenham and they will be on a high. That injection of really talented players has brought energy to training, which spreads across the group.

“I don’t want to put the handbrake on that, we want to continue that, the positive vibe, we must embrace it. But we can’t keep the same team for the next six-to-nine weeks, we have to be at our best.

“I understand the enormity of the Champions Cup, and you need a squad that is big and good enough. It’s going to be unique for us, going from 38° in Pretoria to -2 and snowing in Exeter,” White said.

Assistant coach Pine Pienaar spoke on Tuesday about Cardiff’s strengths and getting the balance right in the Bulls selection, and White named a physical loose trio on Friday with Van Staden and Cyle Brink returning to the starting back row.

But against the Cardiff side who showed how brilliant they are in terms of game-management in thrashing the Sharks last weekend, there will be much focus on Goosen’s return to the No.10 jersey, with the Bulls hoping he will be at his adroit best.

“I’d like to play Johan as much as possible and I think we’ll see over the next six weeks that the more he plays the better he’ll become,” White said.

“He was out for a long time and he played in different positions, in and out of the team, which was not ideal for him. But he now has a long list of games coming up, we’ll need to manage him and get him playing well again.”

Bulls: Kurt-Lee Arendsti, David Kriel, Cornal Hendricks, Harold Vorster, Canan Moodie, Johan Goosen, Zak Burger, Elrigh Louw, Cyle Brink, Marco Van Staden, Ruan Nortje (c), Ruan Vermaak, Mornay Smith, Johan Grobbelaar, Gerhard Steenekamp. Bench – Jan-Hendrik Wessels, Simphiwe Matanzima, Francois Klopper, Janko Swanepoel, Nizaam Carr, Embrose Papier, Chris Smith, Lionel Mapoe.

Erwee does not get too fazed by much 0

Posted on October 06, 2022 by Ken

Sarel Erwee does not get too fazed by much – not dropping a simple catch in the first over of the day, not the unique conditions at Lord’s nor the tricky pitch he had to bat on on the second day of the first Test against England on Thursday.

Erwee handled all of that and the England attack with a well-controlled, highly-composed innings of 73 that laid the foundation for South Africa’s first innings total of 289/7 at stumps and a lead of 124.

Erwee was at first slip when he juggled and dropped a catch given by England’s top-scorer Ollie Pope off Kagiso Rabada. The spearhead of the attack also bounced back from that disappointment, removing Pope for 73 five overs later.

The left-handed opener, playing just his fifth Test, then had to come in and handle the famous slope at Lord’s, as well as a capacity crowd and the famous pair of Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad on a pitch that was giving the new ball plenty of assistance.

“The spilt catch certainly wasn’t planned, but that’s cricket. It can happen, especially in the UK where the ball wobbles a bit,” Erwee said phlegmatically at the end of the second day.

“My primary job is as a batsman and trying to get my team off to a decent start with the skipper.” [He succeeded with an excellent opening stand of 85 with Dean Elgar].

“Visualisation is quite important for me to get used to the environment, especially at a place like Lord’s which can be quite overwhelming. I try and gather what type of energies the crowd will give off and the bowlers I’m going to face.

“So I watch a lot of videos, quiet my mind and take it all in. It’s working nicely but I mustn’t get ahead of myself. The most important thing is to just watch each ball at a time. You can get caught up, but if you stay in the moment then things generally go well,” Erwee said.

The 32-year-old also used his mental strength to handle the bowler-friendly pitch and the notorious Lord’s slope, which sees the gradient drop 2.5 metres from the north end of the ground to the south .

“Conditions got trickier and the pitch became a bit two-paced, plus the scoring was quite slow after the rain on the first day, there was a heavy outfield.

“But I had to take all of that out of my mind and just watch the ball and play as intensely as possible. The slope does play a role at times too, but we were very fortunate to play our warm-up game in Canterbury, where there is a slope as well.

“That worked in our favour and we were able to figure out what would work at Lord’s, where the slope is even more hectic, and what to line up differently,” Erwee said.

Young Marco Jansen (41*) and the more experienced Keshav Maharaj (41) then added a rollicking 72 for the seventh wicket in 12-and-a-half overs, giving the Proteas renewed energy.

“Watching Kesh and Marco bat gave a bit more energy, the changeroom was buzzing even more,” Erwee said. “We’re in a good position and we’re full of confidence.

“We have prepped well and we take a bit of momentum into the third day with that partnership at the back end of the day.

“If we can bring the same energy tomorrow [Friday], then we’ll stay ahead of the game, I’m sure,” Erwee said.

CSA T20 Challenge: Power batting of KZN or Free State or strong bowling of Northerns or Boland to hold sway? 0

Posted on February 28, 2022 by Ken

The CSA T20 Challenge gets underway in Gqeberha on Monday and whether the St George’s Park pitch, which has often been tricky for batting this summer, will favour the powerhouse batting line-ups of teams like the KZN Dolphins and Free State Knights or the strong bowling attacks of sides like the Northerns Titans or Boland Rocks is the big question.

And if it is a bowler-friendly tournament, will it be pace or spin that holds sway?

If it is spin, then Northerns look well-equipped to prosper with Tabraiz Shamsi, arguably the world’s best T20 spinner, in their squad, along with Aaron Phangiso, a perpetual banker in domestic white-ball cricket. They also have two wicket-taking Proteas fast bowlers in Lizaad Williams, with the new ball, and Junior Dala for the key middle overs.

But above all, the Titans have Quinton de Kock in their ranks and there is no doubting his ability to dominate and spearhead a title challenge. There will also be much excitement if U19 superstar Dewald Brevis makes his senior debut.

There are other Proteas sluggers who will have key roles in the tournament, and David Miller of the KZN Dolphins is someone who could have as large an impact as De Kock.

Janneman Malan will be a key player for Boland, while one feels either Reeza Hendricks, with the bat, or Bjorn Fortuin and Sisanda Magala with the ball, need to have big tournaments if the Central Gauteng Lions are to bring the T20 trophy they won at the end of last season back to the Wanderers.

But T20 cricket is the sort of game where an individual wise old head can put in a matchwinning performance at any time and it is advisable not to underestimate Western Province.

They have included former Proteas Richard Levi and Dane Vilas in their squad and they also have current Proteas squad members, and experienced campaigners to boot, in captain Wayne Parnell, George Linde and Beuran Hendricks.

The Eastern Province Warriors should be watched as well because they will know what is required in home conditions, and they have a good balance between veteran campaigners like Jon-Jon Smuts, Dane Paterson and Rudi Second, and explosive new talents like Matthew Breetzke, Wihan Lubbe and Tristan Stubbs.

The tournament comprises the eight Division One teams in a single round-robin format with 31 matches in total. The top four teams will go through to the semi-finals and the final is set to take place on Sunday, February 27.

With more than a dozen current Proteas involved, this season’s CSA T20 Challenge seems set to be highly competitive and entertaining.

Squads  

Eastern Province Warriors: Sinethemba Qeshile, Matthew Breetzke, Diego Rosier, Wihan Lubbe, Lesiba Ngoepe, Jon-Jon Smuts, Tristan Stubbs, Mthiwekhaya Nabe, Tsepo Ndwandwa, Tiaan van Vuuren, Stefan Tait, Kyle Jacobs, Dane Paterson, Lizo Makosi, Rudi Second, Akhona Mnyaka, Alindile Mhletywa.

Boland Rocks:Pieter Malan, Janneman Malan, Cebo Tshiki, Clyde Fortuin, Christiaan Jonker, Ferisco Adams, Michael Copeland, Valentine Kitime, Hardus Viljoen, Shaun von Berg, Ziyaad Abrahams, Siyabonga Mahima, Achille Cloete, Hlomla Hanabe, Zakhele Qwabe, Imraan Manack.

KZN Dolphins:Bryce Parsons, Grant Roelofsen, Andile Phehlukwayo, Khaya Zondo, David Miller, Jason Smith, Eathan Bosch, Prenelan Subrayen, Thando Ntini, Daryn Dupavillon, Ottneil Baartman, Kerwin Mungroo, Ruan de Swardt, Marques Ackerman, Odirile Modimokoane, Keegan Pietersen.

Central Gauteng Lions: Joshua Richards, Kagiso Rapulana, Mitchell van Buuren, Shane Dadswell, Ruan Haasbroek, Dominic Hendricks, Tshepo Ntuli, Malusi Siboto, Tladi Bokako, Aya Myoli, Codi Yusuf, Sisanda Magala, Juan Landsberg, Bjorn Fortuin, Reeza Hendricks.

Free State Knights: Farhaan Behardien, Patrick Botha, Mbulelo Budaza, Gerald Coetzee, CP Klijnhans, Patrick Kruger, Wandile Makwetu, Greg Mohlakoana, Mangaliso Mosehle, Alfred Mothoa, Migael Pretorius, Jason Raubenheimer, Jacques Snyman, Pite van Biljon, Nealan van Heerden, Raynard van Tonder.

Northerns Titans:Theunis de Bruyn, Quinton de Kock, Dayyaan Galiem, Heinrich Klaasen, Sibonelo Makhanya, Donovan Ferreira, Aya Gqamane, Dewald Brevis, Aaron Phangiso, Lizaad Williams, Tabraiz Shamsi, Junior Dala, Grant Mokoena, Corbin Bosch, Gihahn Cloete.

North-West Dragons: Nicky van den Bergh, Lesego Senokwane, Wesley Marshall, Dwaine Pretorius, Senuran Muthusamy, Heino Kuhn, Delano Potgieter, Nono Pongolo, Duan Jansen, Johannes Diseko, Chad Classen, Lwandiswa Zuma, Eldred Hawken, Taheer Isaacs, Caleb Seleka, Ndumiso Mvelase.

Western Province Blitz:Jonathan Bird, Junaid Dawood, Tony de Zorzi, Beuran Hendricks, Gavin Kaplan, George Linde, Richard Levi, Aviwe Mgijima, Tshepo Moreki, Mihlali Mpongwana, Wayne Parnell, Kyle Simmonds, Daniel Smith, Yaseen Vallie, Dane Vilas, Basheer Walters.

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