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Pollard: “it doesn’t matter how many Springboks you have in your camp”

“Super Rugby is the toughest competition in the world”

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Written by Reynardt Deminey
Photo by Suhaimi Abdullah/Getty Images

Springbok flyhalf Handre Pollard allayed early talks that the Bulls head into the 2019 Super Rugby competition as the strongest team in the South African conference.

Earlier this week Lions coach Swys de Bruin praised the Bulls for their progress under new coach Pote Human and new director of Alan Zondagh.

Pollard noted that Super Rugby is the toughest competition in the world.

“…it doesn’t matter how many Springboks you have in your camp, reputations count for nothing,” Pollard told reporters.

The Bulls have strengthened their ranks before playing their first warm-up game against the Lions this weekend. Additions to the team include Springboks Duane Vermeulen, Schalk Brits, and Cornal Hendricks.

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The Springbok Sevens trio of Stedman Gans, Rosko Specman and Dylan Sage are available for selection, while Muller Uys from Western Province and Paul Schoeman from the Cheetahs round off the new additions.  

Pollard said that it helps to have Duane (Vermeulen) and Schalk (Brits) in their camp, but that: “a team has to pitch up every weekend and be at its best.”

The Lions will take on the Sharks on 3 February at Cape Town Stadium with the Bulls taking on the Sharks in the second game. These will be the first appearances by the teams in their new-look superhero jerseys which the teams will use for the South African matches.

The Bulls kick off the start of their campaign in their first game on 16 February against the Stormers on Loftus Versfeld.


Super Rugby

All Blacks halfback Folau Fakatava taking no chances in race to be fit for 2023 World Cup

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“In rugby you can’t control when you get injured,” Fakatava told Newshub. “All you can do is come back stronger.”

And with the World Cup kicking off in September, that’s exactly what the two test All Black plans to do.

Fakatava got a taste of international rugby in 2022 – he was part of the All Blacks squad all year but was limited to just two appearances off the bench before his season ended.

“I was really hurt when I heard I’d torn my ACL,” he continued. “But at the same time, you really can’t do anything about it.”

But as Fakatava chases one of three halfback spots in Ian Foster’s World Cup squad, he’s taken matters into his own hands.

“I’ve decided not to do the surgery,” he revealed. “My goal this year is to be back out there for the World Cup.”

A third ACL surgery would’ve ruled him out of contention for France, as a conversation with the All Blacks doctor James McGarvey reassured Fakatava avoiding surgery could work.

“He had a look at my other knee, and found out there’s no ACL in that. 

“That gave me confidence to hopefully do that with my other one.”

There are protections in place to ensure Fakatava is back on the field as close to the start of Super Rugby as possible.

Content & Images from – Highlanders Rugby


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Reds, Wild Knights partnership continues to provide opportunities for Queensland Rugby

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The Queensland’s Reds’ partnership with the Saitama Panasonic Wild Knights continues to reap benefits, with Buildcorp Reds Academy Ryan Schultz travelling to Japan to undertake professional development under Wild Knights coach Robbie Deans.

Schultz, who coaches Queensland’s U18 side and the Anglican Church Grammar School First XV outfit, spent 11-days immersed in the League One program, learning directly from Deans and his coaching group in Saitama.

Schultz was a part of two game days and a full training week, a unique and exclusive opportunity made possible by Queensland’s relationship with their sister-state club.

“I was fully immersed in their training week,” Schultz said. 

“I was involved in coaching meetings, player meetings, leadership meetings and their training sessions.

“Luckily enough they had a B’s game on the Saturday, followed by Sunday where they played Toyota Verblitz so I got that full week experience of game to game.”

Schultz relished the opportunity to learn from Deans, who has delivered the Wild Knights five premierships in his eight-year tenure.

“It was awesome to be able to see Robbie Deans as a head coach and leader,” Schultz said.

“Seeing him operate behind the scenes, in the meeting rooms with coaches and players, and then on the training paddock was awesome.

“He’s been there for eight seasons so it’s a really well-established program and a real player-led environment.

“The field belongs to the players, so it was really good to see that in real-time and then how that’s developed away from the training paddock.”

Now back in Australia, Schultz will bring his learnings to Queensland’s next generation of Reds with his role as head coach of the Reds U18s and Tier 2 Academy squad.

From the attacking focus of the Japanese game, to Deans’ emphasis on core skills, Schultz has returned from his trip as a better coach.

“Robbie has a big philosophy around accuracy coming first – that technical skill development,” Schultz said.

“Being able to execute skills under pressure is a big thing, so I think how we develop that in our training programs at the Reds will be really important.

“At the moment we’re focusing a lot on technical skill development, so it really reinforced what we’ve been planning and implementing here.

“Japan play exciting, attacking footy over there, there’s a lot less focus on kicking and more around attack.

“I was able to pick up a lot of detail around the attacking part of the game and the skillset.

Following Queensland’s inaugural tour to Japan last October, Schultz’s visit is another example of the partnership paying dividends for Queensland Rugby.

“It’s an awesome partnership,” Schultz said.

“I know the Reds squad really enjoyed their tour on November and being there and talking to the Panasonic staff about it, it was really beneficial to them.

“To be able to over and learn and grow, and then bring that back to our Academy is really exciting.”

Content & Images from – Queensland Reds Rugby


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Former English International to join the Highlanders

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English first-five Freddie Burns will join the Highlanders for the 2023 edition of DHL Super Rugby Pacific. Burns, currently playing for Leicester Tigers in the English Premiership has agreed terms with the Highlanders, and with the support of Leicester, will land in New Zealand prior to the first round.

The 32-year-old Burns will bring with him a wealth of experience having started his first-class career with Gloucester back in 2010. His first turn at Leicester was between 2014-2017 before three seasons with Bath and Burns has over 200 appearances in the Premiership to his name. In 2021 he had a short sojourn in Japan before returning to Leicester for the 2022 season.

A former England U20 representative he represented the senior side five times most notably debuting against the All Blacks in 2012, replacing Owen Farrell, in their 38-21 victory.

A prolific goal kicker and tactically sound first-five, who can also play fullback, he was the toast of Leicester when he dropkicked the winning goal for the Tigers against Saracens in the 2022 Gallagher Premiership final.

Burns is looking forward to the experience.

“As a young lad I grew up watching Super rugby in the early hours of morning. To have the opportunity to represent such a prestigious club as the Highlanders in the 2023 Super Rugby Pacific season is a huge honour. I look forward to getting started and adding to the group both on and off the field”

Highlanders Head Coach Clarke Dermody has welcomed the arrival of the experienced playmaker.

“Having a player of Freddie’s calibre available to us in such a crucial position is a real boost for the squad. Last year we were exposed at 10 due to a run of injuries and while we covered the situation, we were asking a lot of Sam Gilbert and Vili Koroi who are not regular starting first-fives. Freddie’s arrival will provide us with that extra insurance against that scenario playing out again in 2023”.

Burns will be the second international back to be added to Dermody’s 2023 squad with Argentinian outside back Martin Bogado also set to play in Highlanders colours.

 

ENDS

Content & Images from – Highlanders Rugby


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