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queens target top 4 Super 15 finish i SA conference
December 12, 2012, 09:15:22

Ex Business Day

SOUTHERN Kings director of rugby Alan Solomons has targeted a top-four finish in the South African conference in next year’s Super Rugby series, and says although the season will be challenging, his team relishes the prospect of making its debut in the competition.
Also, the lack of faith in the team’s abilities by the public would inspire them rather than dampen their spirits, he said on Tuesday.
Such has been the determination in the Kings camp to make their presence felt next season, that the team began their preseason training on November 19 and will conclude the first leg of their preparation next Friday, with the team set to work on specific aspects of their game when they reassemble on January 3.
Solomons said this gruelling preseason schedule was necessary to ensure the players were in peak physical condition for the demanding competition and to prepare them mentally for the challenge ahead.
"The players have been working very hard, and though the five-week preseason is long after playing 18 back-to-back games (including the Currie Cup first division and the promotion-relegation playoff matches) toward the end of this season, we don’t have a choice," he said.
"Some of the players in our squad have played Super Rugby, but others haven’t, so we have to ensure everyone is ready to compete at that level mentally and physically.
"In the last few weeks the focus has been mainly on conditioning, with one or two technical things, but there will be a more intense focus on the specific aspects of our game in the new year.
"Unfortunately, we do not have the luxury of Super Rugby experience such as the Stormers, Sharks and Bulls, so we have no choice but to work harder."
Despite being written off by the public already to register a single victory next season, Solomons said they believed in themselves as a team and they were determined to make the most of the chance to play in a top-class competition.
"It is correct that we have been written off and that will only spur us on," the coach said. "We are under no illusions that we face a massive challenge and we know it will take a lot of hard work and determination to do well, but we are excited. We have waited a long time to secure a Super Rugby franchise and it is now up to us to make the most of it."
Solomons adopted a realistic view regarding their goals for the season, and said: "This will be our first season of Super Rugby and we understand that the standard of rugby will be very high, but we are also cognisant of the fact that the last-placed team will have to play promotion-relegation fixtures against the Lions, and we are determined to avoid that. So our goals are to be competitive and to finish in the top four."
The Kings will be up against it, as they have been handed a tough draw, starting with a clash against the Western Force at home, followed by a bye, home games against the Sharks and Chiefs and then their four-week Australasian tour, before returning to South Africa for the home leg.
"There is no doubt that we have a tough draw," Solomons said. "And it is particularly unfortunate that our first bye is in the second week of the series, but we have factored that into our planning. We then face last year’s finalists (the Sharks and Chiefs) and line up against the Crusaders in our first tour game, so it will be a challenging test, but we cannot do anything about it. We have to accept the draw and do our best."
Despite the current laws favouring attacking rugby, Solomons said it was important to play "balanced" rugby to be successful. (Agreed and this is where the Stormers went wrong with an outright defensive approach which while very successful denied the side the opportunity to move way ahead)


"Every team wants to play attractive running rugby, but it is important to adapt, and that requires being able to vary our style of play. Balance will be very important because the type of rugby one plays depends on several factors, including the opponents, the weather and the way the referee officiates." (Absolutely - Solomom si sa brainy coach and tha tis a big plus for the queens)
Unfortunately one suspects that after the first 8 matches or so the queens wil be asking to be relieved of their Super 15 duties.But good luck to the players who are not to blame.


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RE: queens target top 4 Super 15 finish i SA conference
December 12, 2012, 09:58:10


Solomons was Mallett's main sidekick when the latter coached the Springboks.   They have two talents in common - they can talk the hind leg off a donkey.    Whether they actually can deliver is an entirely different matter.   Mallett and Solomns did well with a team they inherited from their predecessors - but they failed badly in indetifying and developing new team members when replacements became necessary.   Thereafter it was one flop after another until Mallett resigned  on side issue - before he could be fired.

Whether Solomons is going to be a plus-factor with the development of an entirely new franchise squad is indeed questionable - they just do not have the talent available to really make an impact.   The basic team available is that of the Elephants - who did not qualify to play in the top CC competition and is in a purely SA context a second division team.   

They added some other players from elsewhere to the squad - but those like Sykes are basically other franchise rejects and would do little to enhance the chances of the Queens on Super 15 level.   

I think they may have promoted the Queens to Super Series level to reduce the political assault by diluting it.   That does not really give the team any chances of winning even 1 game in the Super series  at best they could perhaps get about 4 ot 5 points for narrow losses.   I say perhaps - because even that seens to be unlikely.

I really am in depair about having a time like this in Super 15 is a disgrace for SA Rugby.

By the way your note on the Stormer performances this year leaves one question unaswered - namely will there be any improvmeent next year with the questionable addition of Jantjies coupled to a poor attacking center pairing of De Villiers and De Jongh.   I think not and still believe that the center combination is the one weak link in the Stromers team.      



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RE: queens target top 4 Super 15 finish i SA conference
December 12, 2012, 13:01:18

Mike I think the queens will look almost competitive initially but will fad ebadly. When i say almost competitive i mean losses by not more than 20 points. I agree I cant see them doing much and hope the Cheetahs continue on from last year where they had  a credible season.

As for the Stormers you devalue Jantjes too much. But if he is having problems we also have Grant. Gary van Aswegen was playing well before he got injured and I wonder how fit he is for the 2013 season.

I also cant think we will be so negative in attack. In addition to Jean and De Jongh we have Allende, Du Plessis and Howard at center. This means Coetzee has no excuse to not rotate players. Also one could see in the Currie Cup and more attacking approach. Why would this not be carried into the Super 15. You are on the wrong track I think but we shall see if the Stroemrs go back to this extreme defence orientated gameplan.

What you also dont consider is the effect of the game plan on guys like De Jong. No backline player could look good in that set up, Now the same very much applies to the Boks. Difficult to shine in a backline that isnt really functioning that well.

To me  Groom, Jantjes, Allende, Taute and Du Plessis all add a lot to our attacking ability. Add in guys like Haban, Jean, Van Der Heever, Howard, Aplon and Joe

Coetzee has a squad with depth and can and MUST manage the players. Build on the Currie Cup. Be a bit more adventerous.



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RE: queens target top 4 Super 15 finish i SA conference
December 12, 2012, 14:57:38


Lets wait and see whether Jantjies live up to the hype - he will have too change quite drastically - standing 10 meters behind the gain line and running towards the inside center before passing the ball will not pay off. 

As for the center combination - will Coetzee be brave enough to give De Allende, Du Plessis and Howaed enough playing time?   I doubt that very much and I don't think the De Villiers - De Jongh combination is going to be better than this year - sad to say.


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RE: queens target top 4 Super 15 finish i SA conference
December 13, 2012, 00:33:16

 Who could the Queens actually beat in the SA conference or even the Australian conference?

I think the Cheetas will improve upon their performance from last year. Their squad is looking to have more depth than ever before. The Bulls also have some good young players drafted into the squad and will either make or break more inside centers backs like the real Slim Sadie. 

The Sharks will completely destroy the Queens, as will the Stormers if their attack improves. I doubt the queens could score one point against the Stormers

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