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Ken Borland

Looking to play more from scrums will not weaken the resolve of Bulls front row to make a point 0

Posted on January 07, 2022 by Ken

Bulls coach Jake White may be saying he will be looking to play more from scrums in the United Rugby Championship going forward, but that is not going to weaken the resolve of his front row to make a point when they come up against the Sharks at Kings Park on Friday night.

White said one of the differences in northern hemisphere rugby that his team will need to adapt to is that sides tend to use the scrum as an attacking platform and not something from which to earn penalties.

But the outspoken coach made a point of saying how much he was looking forward to seeing former Springbok hooker Bismarck du Plessis taking on Bongi Mbonambi, the incumbent in the Green and Gold No.2 jersey. He is also keen to see how another Springbok, Lizo Gqoboka, does as he comes off the bench as tighthead cover, having switched back to the other side of the scrum, where he started his career.

“I don’t really want a whole lot of penalties at scrum time,” White said on Thursday. “In South Africa you see the scrum is used as an opportunity to get out of your half or get points, via penalties.

“But in the rest of the URC, teams see it as an opportunity to attack, with eight forwards all tied in there. They try and get the ball in and out quickly.

“The Sharks have been speaking for months about how strong they will be when all their Springboks return and then it will just be a matter of time before they dominate. Well this is it now, it’s a home game for them and their Boks are back.

“Bongi has been the dominant hooker for South Africa, while Bismarck is also a World Cup winner who has played 79 Tests. I’m sure he will introduce himself to Bongi and I’m looking forward to that battle,” White said.

While the likes of Ox Nche and Aphelele Fassi have for some undisclosed reason been blacklisted from playing for the Sharks on Friday night, the KwaZulu-Natalians will have Siya Kolisi, Lukhanyo Am, Makazole Mapimpi and Sbu Nkosi also lining up alongside Mbonambi.

Am has moved to inside centre, setting up an intriguing tussle with a Bulls backline that sees David Kriel playing at outside centre and Kurt-Lee Arendse at fullback.

Faf rates the credentials on the Wallabies scrumhalves 0

Posted on September 29, 2021 by Ken

Faf de Klerk would be in the conversation when it comes to a World XV but the Springbok scrumhalf certainly rates the credentials of the Australian number nines that he will be up against in their Rugby Championship Test on the Gold Coast on Sunday.

Tate McDermott is the starting scrumhalf and comes from a Sevens background, so he is a lively ball-runner who definitely adds another dimension to the Wallabies attack. Reserve No.9 Nic White is more of a kicker, but also knows exactly where the tryline is, as well as being a deft off-loader in the close channels. He is also quite physical and combative.

“Tate McDermott is an exciting youngster and he will definitely threaten us around the rucks, plus Nic White is there as back-up. So it’s going to be a massive challenge for us on defence. The Wallabies are going to try and run us off our feet, so it’s going to be a huge challenge defensively.

“If you look at their recent scores, they haven’t been so good. But the way they have played has shown that if you switch off against them, then you can quickly be 14 or 21 points down. If we’re not mentally right then we’re going to come badly second. So we’re under no impression that it’s going to be easy. Defence is going to be very important and who can manage the game best,” De Klerk said.

Meanwhile, former Springbok coach Jake White, now director of rugby at the high-flying Bulls, has said playing in front of a hostile crowd is going to be an obvious hurdle for the tourists to overcome. Rugby in South Africa has not had spectators since the arrival of Covid 18 months ago.

“The one significant thing that is going to be completely different in Australia is that there’s going to be a crowd. Our guys would have forgotten what that’s like. When we got to Treviso for the Rainbow Cup final, having the home crowd in was incredibly different to what we were used to because we hadn’t done it for so long,” White said on Friday.

Notshe’s exotic skills up against his role-model’s more direct talents 0

Posted on September 24, 2020 by Ken

The more exotic skills of Sikhumbuzo Notshe will be up against the more physical, direct talents of Duane Vermeulen in SuperFan Saturday at Loftus Versfeld, and the Sharks eighthman is looking forward to taking on a man he considers his role-model.

Notshe, born in King Williams Town, came through the youth ranks at Western Province and spent three seasons from 2013-2015 playing with Vermeulen at the Stormers before the Springbok hero left for France. The Bulls v Sharks match on Saturday is going to be a real clash of styles, and the personal battle at eighthman exemplifies that.

“You always want to play against the very best and I will approach Saturday as just another challenge. But when I joined the Stormers, I learnt so much from Duane in terms of jumping and mauling. I’m coming up against my role-model, he taught me the ropes in professional rugby, so I look forward to that. But the most important thing is to worry about my team first and not my individual performance,” Notshe said.

“We need to focus on our game-plan and on ourselves, we want to play the Sharks brand of rugby, with urgency and speed. We are a team that strives for performance and we don’t worry about results as much. If we perform well then we will get the result regardless. We just want to play to the best of our abilities and tick our boxes, and we’re excited about this weekend.”

New Sharks coach Sean Everitt’s approach has been less woes than predecessor Robert du Preez and his young team responded superbly, Notshe being one of several talents to bloom as they soared to the top of the overall Super Rugby table with six wins in seven matches before Covid-19 ended the season. The team culture has been outstanding, with Everitt focusing on transformation and diversity, and his ‘pets’ had built up tremendous momentum when their campaign was cruelly cut short in mid-March.

Will the Sharks be able to pick up that momentum on Saturday?

“We can’t promise that and obviously it was really frustrating to have the season end when it did. But we can’t stay in the past, it’s now a clean slate and all the other provinces have loaded up with some players, we are aware of that. We need to live in the present, it’s a fresh start because the last time we played was six months ago and we’ve also got some new players and lost a couple too.

“But we won’t change our identity as Sharks, it’s exciting that we can take the learnings from the seven rounds of Super Rugby we played and we have things to work on like working harder off the ball and polishing our basics, like catching and passing. We want to sharpen up our game and be urgent – if there’s a loose ball then a Sharks jersey must be on to it,” Notshe said.

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