Kankowski hopes to bring something fresh to Bok game

2010-11-18 00:00

SHARKS number eight, Ryan Kankowski, is determined to make a point when he takes the field for the Springboks against Scotland at Murrayfield on Saturday.

The in-form Pierre Spies, who was impressive against both Ireland and Wales, is the only senior Springbok to be surprisingly rested by coach Peter de Villiers this weekend, but he has provided Kankowski with an opportunity to answer his detractors.

The rangy Sharks number eight is one of the most athletic loose forwards in world rugby, but is constantly being told by his critics that he goes missing in tight situations and when the going is tough and heavy.

Kankowski did show during the Currie Cup, and particularly in the bruising semi-final (against the Blue Bulls) and final (against Western Province), that he is willing and able to play the physical game.

The 25-year-old Kankowski, who has played 16 Tests but never been allowed to settle, said that Sharks coach John Plumtree had helped in the improvement of his all-round play.

“Plum worked hard with me, tightening my game, encouraging me to be more physical and to bring something new to my game. Plum was satisfied I had and hopefully I can now build on that.

“This game [against Scotland] is a test for me, an opportunity, and I hope I can pass it with flying colours. You never take playing for the Boks for granted.”

Kankowski said the Bok approach was unlikely to change — “but maybe I can bring something new.”

The 107 kg Kankowski is a firm believer in keeping the ball in hand rather than kicking it away.

“Neville Heilbron [a laws advisor] gave us the statistic that 90% of penalties go against the defensive team. The laws are working in favour of the attacking side,” said Kankowski.

“It helped me at the Sharks that we kept the ball in hand. The guys believed in themselves and wanted to use the ball. Maybe I can help bring that to the side this weekend.”

Kankowski has played his rugby in the shadow of Spies, but understands his situation.

“You can’t blame the coach for picking players that perform well. We have brilliant loose forwards. All I can do is try and bring something new and fresh to the game and hope that is what the coach wants.”

The Boks, meanwhile, are being picky about what they eat following the drug allegations involving Bjorn Basson and Chiliboy Ralepelle. There are suggestions that the methylhexaneamine stimulant might have come from their own energy drinks or protein supplements and the medical team have taken a string of items off their menu in Edinburgh.

Supplements and medicines have been sent for analysis and scrumhalf Francois Hougaard told reporters that everything they were eating was regarded with suspicion.

“We don’t take any of those things now,” he said. “Everything is off.”

Methylhexaneamine is known to pass through the system quickly and there are no concerns that other players may still be contaminated.

Sports scientist Tim Noakes told News24 that Ralepelle and Basson could not be called dopers or cheats.

“This is not a doping incident. It’s an incident of inadvertent use through medication of a supplement. To call these guys dopers would be unfair. Doping agencies have to make a fuss every so often. In this case it’s doing harm.”

Scotland’s head coach Andy Robinson yesterday made four changes to his starting line-up for Saturday’s Test.

Scrumhalf Rory Lawson, grandson of legendary commentator Bill McLaren, takes over as captain from Mike Blair, who was concussed against the All Blacks. Nikki Walker, who scored Scotland’s winning try in their 21-6 triumph against South Africa at Murrayfield in 2002, will make his first start since 2008, replacing the injured Rory Lamont on the wing. Scott MacLeod returns at lock and the Scots have beefed up their pack by selecting Nathan Hines as a blindside flank.

“The players are pledged to deliver a much-improved performance this weekend and I believe they can restore pride in the Scotland jersey,” said Robinson.

Kick off is at 4.30 pm.

Scotland

15 Hugo Southwell, 14 1Nikki Walker, 13 Max Evans, 12 Graeme Morrison, 11 Sean Lamont, 10 Dan Parks, 9 Rory Lawson (c), 8 John Barclay, 7 Kelly Brown, 6 Nathan Hines, 5 Scott MacLeod, 4 Richie Gray 3 Euan Murray, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Allan Jacobsen.

Replacements: 16 Dougie Hall, 17 Moray Low, 18 Richie Vernon, 19 Ross Rennie 20 Greig Laidlaw 21 Ruaridh Jackson, 22 Chris Paterson.

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