Richie McCaw’s probable return against the Springboks this week.

Richie McCaw’s probable return against the Springboks this week couldn’t have come at a better time for the All Blacks.

After training fully in Buenos Aires, McCaw is expected to demonstrate his remarkable healing powers when the All Blacks touched down after a 12-hour flight in Johannesburg .

Initially predicted to be out for up to five weeks, the 32-year-old is now on track to confront the Boks at Ellis Park, though he will have to survive full contact training this week.

His likely presence at the scene of the 1995 World Cup final – where the All Blacks haven’t won for 16 years – and ability to approach and influence referees could be vital in the heat of a momentous occasion.

After returning from his six-month sabbatical, McCaw is satisfied with his three tests this year – against Australia and Argentina – but feels he is nowhere near his peak yet.

“I was a bit nervous getting back into it, as you can imagine,” McCaw told Fairfax Media.

“If I’d said before the championship started that I’d play those three games like I did I’d be happy, but not extremely.”

McCaw’s injury-enforced absence and Matt Todd’s surgery has the All Blacks skipper contemplating a healthy diet of rugby between now and the 2015 World Cup.

“Having this injury and missing a few games could potentially mean I play as many games as I can for the rest of this year,” he said. “Then with a guy like Matt Todd being injured I’ll have to make sure I’m on deck at the start of the season [for the Crusaders].

“You get to 12 months time and you’re on the countdown for the World Cup. It’s going to come around pretty quick. You want to play as many games as you can because you don’t know how many you’re going to have left, really.”

McCaw’s comeback is a major boost while injured prop Owen Franks also flew to South Africa despite leaving the field at halftime with a groin strain in Sunday’s 33-15 win over the Pumas.

North Harbour tighthead Ben Afeaki will be called in as cover and Charlie Faumuina would be promoted to start if Franks was not fit.

McCaw’s pending switch from water boy to starting openside also threatens to overshadow Sam Cane’s progress.

“I don’t want to downplay what Sam Cane’s done the last couple of weeks. He’s been fantastic,” All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said. “The other guy is probably the greatest player we’ve ever had so it’ll be nice to have him back on the track. He’s a highly regarded member of the team.”

In his last two tests Cane has silenced the doubters. After laying down a marker by playing on with a nasty head gash against the brutal Boks at Eden Park, he more than backed up that effort in La Plata. It seems cruel to drop him now but that is the reality of playing alongside McCaw.

“The more time you spend in the black jersey the more comfortable you get,” Cane said. “You can’t really be judged off one performance, you’re always trying to go out there and prove yourself.”

Hansen is well aware of the fact the All Blacks have won just three of 13 games at Ellis Park. He knows the hostile environment his side are about to walk into. And he knows the Boks will raise the intensity after clocking off in the second half of their 28-8 win over the Wallabies in Cape Town.

“History tells you it’s a big one but this team is about making its own history,” Hansen said. “It’s just another ground and a place that we need to play well at. The key thing is are we going to play well enough to win it. We know we’re capable of doing it. We’ve got to believe and prepare in that fashion.

“I was surprised the Boks didn’t get more points actually. They were all over them in the first half and then lost their way a little bit in the second. They will be disappointed but, like us, they’re well aware of what has to happen at the weekend and they’ll get up for it in a big way.

– © Fairfax NZ News

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HEART 104.9FM TOP 30 – 28 September 2013

HEART 104.9FM TOP 30 – 28 September 2013
POS ARTIST SONG TITLE MOVE L/W PEAK WEEKS NOTES
1 Can Skylark Nothing’s Gonna Get Me Down Today NC 1 1 (2) 7
2 Pharrell Happy NC 2 2 5
3 Mi Casa Jika Up 2 5 3 6
4 Claire Phillips I Want Your Love Down 1 3 3 10
5 The Black Ties Something About You Down 1 4 1 6
6 DJ Kent feat. The Arrows Spin My World Up 1 7 1 (6) 12
7 Tamar Braxton The One Up 1 8 7 3
8 John Legend Made To Love Down 2 6 2 7
9 Mariah Carey feat. Miguel #Beautiful NC 9 3 11
10 Fistaz Mixwell feat. DJ Hloni & Mellow Soul I’m Free Up 6 16 10 2 Highest Climber
11 Danny K Brown Eyes Down 1 10 4 13
12 Bruno Mars Treasure Down 1 11 1 (3) 15
13 Eric Benet News For You Down 1 12 11 14
14 Daft Punk feat. Pharrell Get Lucky Down 1 13 1 (2) 21
15 Matthew O’Connell Down Down 1 14 9 7
16 Chris Brown Fine China Down 1 15 2 24 Joint Longest Running Song
17 Denim Revolution (Power To You) New 17 1
18 Eric Roberson feat. Chubb Rock Summertime Anthem Down 1 17 9 12
19 Justin Timberlake Mirrors Up 3 22 4 22
20 Jimmy Nevis feat. Kwesta Balloon Down 2 18 14 10
21 John Legend feat. Rick Ross Who Do We Think We Are Down 2 19 11 13
22 Sean Paul Other Side Of love New 22 1
23 Robin Thicke feat. T.I. & Pharrell Blurred Lines Down 3 20 1 (2&2) 21 Joint Biggest Faller
24 Labrinth feat. Emeli Sande Beneath Your Beautiful Down 3 21 6 20 Joint Biggest Faller
25 Alicia Keys New Day Down 2 23 13 15
26 Heartbeat Café feat. Melissa Allison Perfect View Down 2 24 1 (3) 23
27 The Peanutt Gallery Let’s Have Fun Down 2 25 2 24 Joint Longest Running Song
28 Dia Frampton Walk Away Down 1 27 17 19
29 Pink feat. Nate Ruess Just Give Me A Reason NC 29 6 20
30 Jarrad Stay NC 30 3 20

Surfers charging giant waves at Jeffreys Bay on Day 4 of Hurley SA Junior Champs

The cream of South Africa’s surfing talent aged 17-and-under are charging giant two to three metre walls of water pouring down the iconic Lower Point in Jeffreys Bay on Day 4 of the Hurley SA Junior Champs today.

The powerful swell, with a 15 second interval and groomed to perfection by strong offshore winds, is providing a dramatic stage for the competitors, several not yet teenagers, who are posting near perfect scores as they catch the triple-overhead tubular waves and perform massive manoeuvres on the open faces.

With additional safety personnel in place and two jetskis in the water, the organisers sent Round 3 of the U13 Boys division into the surf first thing this morning. After deciding not to run any of the Girl’s heats, the U17 Boys were next up followed by the U15’s.

J-Bay local Angelo Faulkner won the first heat before Koby Oberholzer (KZNC) caught one of the biggest waves of the day and Max Elkington (WP) impressed by ripping into the set waves on his backhand.

Last year’s U15 champion and ‘Surfer of the Contest’, Matt McGillivray (EP), cemented his reputation as a genuine contender for the U17 title this year by pulling into and emerging from a huge gaping barrel to the hoots of all on the beach and a massive 9.5 points out of 10 from the judges (see image below).

See the incredible waves at http://www.sajuniorchamps.co.za/wordpress/text/this-is-whats-going-on/ and follow https://twitter.com/sajuniorchamps to get all the results as they happen

The Hurley SA Junior Champs runs until Sunday 29 September when the provincial team accumulating the most points is awarded the coveted Freedom Trophy and the individual winners in the U17, U15 and U13 Boy’s and Girl’s divisions are crowned the 2013 South African surfing champions.

Pictured: Matt McGillivray (Eastern Province) pulled into the tube on this triple-overhead wave at the Lower Point in Jeffreys Bay this morning on Day 4 of the 2013 Hurley SA Junior Champs.
Photo: Alan van Gysen / Hurley

Media Enquiries:

Contact: Craig Jarvis
Cell: 082 376 4443
Email: info

From the outside it seems the life of a professional rugby player is rather glamorous.

From the outside it seems the life of a professional rugby player is rather glamorous.

Fame, fortune and all the trimmings right? The reality, though, is quite different.

While others around the same age are backpacking exotic locations, meeting new people, having new experiences and immersing themselves in foreign cultures, the All Blacks’ success is based on strict routine.

Their time in Argentina is for business, not pleasure.

Airports, hotels and training fields – this is predominantly their working life.

All the finer details are mapped out by management. Nutrition, exercise, right down to the optional afternoon nap – no longer than 30 minutes to avoid jetlag and sleepless nights. Wednesday is their one day off a week.

With such a natural focus on performance and professionalism, there is minimal time to get a gauge of foreign locations, let alone socialise with locals or replicate any of the antics their predecessors indulged in during the amateur era.

In many ways the modern-age athlete’s perspective is a bit of a tease.

“I was on Google this morning to find out a few little facts about the place,” All Blacks first five-eighth Tom Taylor said today.

This is part of the reason so many are requesting sabbaticals.

Sure, the chance to play abroad and top-up their income is a lure, but increasingly players are choosing to follow Richie McCaw’s lead and take time out to explore, refresh and, in essence, move out of the limelight.

Senior centre Conrad Smith will do the same after the Rugby Championship, and there are sure to be more who want to take a temporary step back in the not-too-distant future.

“I was talking to Conrad this morning,” the 24-year-old Taylor said.

“It’s a bit different when you’re on a rugby trip, you don’t really get the chance to see a place but it is nice to be here. One day I’ll come back and search it a bit more.”

Still, representing your country is a privilege and most players are doing what they love. And with $7500 per-week in each player’s back pocket it could be worse.

The rest of this week in Buenos Aires will be dominated by team meetings and training as the build-up to Sunday’s clash with the Pumas intensifies.

But this morning the All Blacks enjoyed their surroundings with a stroll past influential statues and through local markets to La Recoleta Cemetery, where former Argentine first lady and actress Eva Peron is buried along with other famous figures.

“It’s certainly something different to back home,” All Blacks playmaker Beauden Barrett, who grew up on a farm in Taranaki, said.

“It would be quite expensive to own one of those properties but not one to look into for me in the future.”

Even in the Argentinean capital, where rugby is overshadowed by football and basketball, experienced All Blacks are stopped and asked to pose for photos.

Locals at cafes give the thumbs up and say “No 1 in the world” as the squad ambles past. The same was true in Rome last year.

“I found that surprising being a huge soccer country,” Barrett said.

“They recognise the big guns like Richie and Keven Mealamu.”

It’s a sign of the growing global game but also the pulling power of the All Blacks.

“I wasn’t expecting that to be honest, even at the airport there were a few people greeting us, knowing your name and things like that,” Taylor said.

“It’s quite surreal but the All Blacks are an interesting brand.”

A brand and, indeed, aura, that is enhanced by winning.

– © Fairfax NZ News

Mike Greenaways take on Jake White and the Sharks

There are rumours of Jake White returning to the Sharks next year following his shock resignation from the Brumbies. Very premature rumours but even if they come to nought it nevertheless pricks the memories of us scribes who were doing Sharks duty back in 2000.

Few people recall it, but White was in fact the Sharks assistant coach to the unfortunate Hugh Reece-Edwards in 2000, a watershed year in Sharks rugby history.

I say “unfortunate” because Reece-Edwards was on a hiding to nothing. He had no price in immediately making a new team of “mercenaries” a winning brand in the white-hot cauldron of Super Rugby.

A few months before, the last vestiges of the famous Sharks team of the ‘90s had retired after a catastrophic Currie Cup final in Durban when a young Lions team, coached by former All Blacks boss Laurie Mains, poured sleets of rain on the Sharks’ parade.

AJ Venter was the Man of the Match for the Lions in an emotional final that said farewell to legendary Natal mentor Ian McIntosh and forever components of Sharks folklore in Gary Teichmann, Henry Honiball and Andre Joubert.

The Sharks got pumped in that game, sadly, and the next season there was almost a brand new squad, although it should be pointed out that many of Mac’s Men had been slowly put to pasture in the previous two or three years.

And there was a new coach in Reece-Edwards, arguably the greatest player ever produced by the province given that the Northlands Old Boy (now Northwood) played 170 games for Natal in the amateur era, when there was no Super Rugby and only a tight Currie Cup competition featuring the top six teams, pretty much as it is today. Reece was fullback for Natal for well over a decade.

He became Mac’s assistant coach and then the head coach, with a young Jake backing him up, but in truth no coaches under the sun could have made that new squad work.

For Reece and Jake it was sheer bad timing, and it is hard to blame the Sharks’ administration given that so many star players retired en masse in a relatively short space of time.

There was the head-strong Venter, famously extricated from his Lions contract on the flimsy premise that he could train better on the dunes of Durban’s beaches, there was a flood of Griquas imports headed by the new golden boy of South African rugby, Gaffie du Toit, and there was a thin white line of Natal stalwarts in the form of captain Wayne Fyvie, John Slade, Pieter Muller and the infamous duo of Ollie le Roux and Chris Rossouw.

I was with the Sharks on their tour that year to New Zealand and Australia. What a dog show! I have never felt so sorry for a coach and captain. Reece and Fyvie are among my favourite Sharks players of all time, and that tour they spent most of their time battling internal feuds or extricating knives from their backs.

Current Sharks CEO John Smit was a youngster on tour, as was another “super” Shark in Craig Davidson, the courageous scrumhalf that had to retire prematurely because of concussion issues because he too literally took to heart the order “to put your body on the line”.

Ollie and Chris took it upon themselves to instruct youngsters such as the aforementioned to “show respect”, instead of working towards earning it. And there was the Griquas imports looking like fish out of water although Philip Smit did his best to be the clown of the show.

I recall Venter coming off the field after the team had been pumped by the Brumbies by 30 points and throwing his hands in the air and proclaiming: “How can you win if there is f…king game plan!”

Don’t get me wrong, Venter grew up to become another great Shark, but he had a wicked temper…

Later in the tour, I interviewed Gaffie after a hiding in Wellington, and blow me down if he didn’t have a minor nervous breakdown. “I can’t do it this,” he said. “I am not taking it to the gain line any more. I would rather move to fullback.”

And so he did. And in the middle was poor old Reece … but Jake was not idle at this time and senior Sharks of that era allege that he worked behind the scenes to end the careers of Fyvie and Slade. It is hard to prove whether this is true or not but Fyvie did not play beyond that season and that was a pity. If you bump into him today, you will see the scars he incurred in courageous service for his province.

At that time, the nick name for the future Springbok coach was “Jake the Snake”, but 13 years later it is impossible to determine whether or not this was warranted. And, of course, Jake went onto great things after that traumatic season with the Sharks.

If he indeed comes back, let’s hope that he has a very different experience in Durban.

by Mike Greenaway

On The Couch, a witty and crazy sports-themed show on Heart 104.9fm

Take Tapfuma Makina and Heart 104.9FM on a Saturday morning. Add Martin Myers and someone known only as Flapper and you have On The Couch, a witty and crazy sports-themed show.

What started as merely a three-minute good idea 10 years ago by Martin Myers has grown into 60 minutes of laughs, non-facts and food for thought.

Initiated by Myers and then Saturday on-air DJ Az Abrahams back in 2003, Heart 104.9 soon realised that there was such a thing as power in numbers, and Flapper joined the team.

Today the passionate and sports mad trio — an accountant, a music industry veteran and a music DJ — make for fun radio.

From just after 8am through to 9.00am the phone lines light up and Heart listeners get to tackle the fanatical Flapper, referee Tapfuma and the ever-controversial Martin on everything from try-lines to transformation.

Makina is Arsenal and rugby mad, Myers follows suit with his unashamed love of the All Blacks, whilst Flapper can’t be challenged on his cricket and golf knowledge.

Everything about On The Couch is entirely off the cuff and therein lies its spontaneity and in turn its success.

With Tapfuma keeping the lines open throughout the show and a little bit of music to dilute the talk, the subject matter is relevant to the sports issues of the day — a mixture of good clean fun and addressing controversial issues.

With international sport well covered, these three wise men are hungry to expose and celebrate the best of what the country has to offer in up-and-coming talent and teams, no matter what the sport or discipline.

The trio don’t play by the rules, only because they spend more time on the bench than on the field, making On The Couch everything but formatted — instead it’s fun, entertaining and downright silly at times.

Cape Town gets feathered aid to guard Stadium pitch

City gets feathered aid to guard Stadium pitch The City has appointed a pigeon specialist called Scarlet, a Peregrine Falcon, to protect the pitch of the Cape Town Stadium in an environmentally friendly, non-lethal way. Read more below:

For the next six months, the pitch of the Cape Town Stadium will be defended by the fastest animal on the planet. This is the first time birds of prey have been used to manage the pitch of a sports stadium in the Western Cape. Sports stadia, including the Wimbledon Tennis Stadium in London and the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth have had great success with this method.

Approximately 120 kg of perennial rye seed, an all-year grass cultivar, is planted monthly on the stadium pitch to repair the damage caused by sporting events and concerts. Pigeons cause the most destruction during the 10 days before the seeds start to germinate. They consume up to 70% of the planted seed. Consequently, the rye grass does not grow. The pigeon activity makes it difficult to keep the grass on the pitch dense – a requirement for top quality sporting events.

Scarlet, a natural enemy of pigeons is expected to have a great impact on pitch management practices.

Stadium management, in accordance with the principles of efficiency that the City adheres to, decided to investigate an environmentally and financially sustainable method to deal with the pigeons.

Direct losses as a result of the pigeon activity amounts to about R80 000 per annum on loss of seed. In addition to this, the money wasted on labour, water, fertiliser and fungicides is substantial. The quality of the pitch when utilised by professional teams is an important factor and guides the strict maintenance and utilisation protocol.

“The Cape Town Stadium’s pitch has received the highest compliments from local, national and international teams who have played here,” said the Director of the Cape Town Stadium, Lesley de Reuck.

This is a non-lethal programme. The aim is not to kill but to deter and to change the behaviour of the target species – in this case the presence of the falcon causes pigeons to adopt a new pattern of behaviour – away from the stadium. Unlike other bird-deterrent devices, the target species never becomes habituated to the presence of a live bird of prey.

A large portion of a wild Peregrine Falcons’ diet consists of pigeon meat. Pigeons are therefore particularly afraid of these falcons. The Cape Peninsula has the highest concentration of Peregrine Falcons in the world.

How it works:
· The Peregrine Falcon flies to a lure (a piece of leather with some wings and a bit of food attached to it) which is swung by the falconer who is positioned in the middle of the pitch.
· The falconer swings the lure to imitate a bird in flight.
· It is the falconer’s job not to let the falcon catch the lure and to keep it flying around the stadium.
· The typical style of hunting adopted by Peregrine Falcons is to fly to a great height and wait for an unsuspecting pigeon to pass below. In a stoop (its characteristic high-speed dive used during hunting), Peregrine Falcons have been clocked at speeds in excess of 320 km/h. These speeds are not achieved in the stadium as a result of space constraints. The mere presence of the pigeon’s greatest enemy encourages them to seek safer feeding grounds.

Scarlet:


Scarlet belongs to Hank Chalmers, owner of Eagle Encounters – the largest raptor rehabilitation centre in Southern Africa. She was brought to the centre four years ago with a broken wing and foot after having been hit by a car. Her prospects were dire but after eight months of intense rehabilitation she was able to fly again. She will, however, never fly well enough again to hunt and survive in the wild.

Scarlet will be flown weekly at the stadium over the next six months to reinforce the presence of the predator. Thereafter, the frequency of the visits will be reduced to the level required to manage the pitch.

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