SARugbymag.co.za chats to Glenwood 1st XV coach Derek Heiberg about the upcoming season.
How are your preparations going?
It’s difficult, to be honest. The squad is not as big as in previous years and half of the players in the squad are carrying niggles from last year. We’ve had to cut down on our workload because we have a lot of games this year, including five in nine days.
What lessons have the team learned from last season?
There were a few disappointing losses, the [83-10] defeat to Grey College in particular. We dominated the games against Monument and DHS but had moments after half-time when we lacked shape and almost had a brain explosion. The 10-minute period after half-time cost us in those games. A big difference between U16 and 1st XV rugby is that at 1st XV level teams tend to be more organised and there is a lot of analysis that goes into it. We need to be a bit more adaptable and streetwise in terms of how we play and adapt to various opposition.
How did you get the team to move past that defeat to Grey College?
We try not to focus just on results. It might sound strange coming from a coach as we are expected to produce results. We tried to start something here last year regarding our culture, ethos and what we are trying to create. We try to give our best throughout the week in terms of controlling what we can control, so in line with that mentality, it was pretty simple to look at the preparation in the week leading up to that Grey match. We didn’t have the best preparation. We had a few injuries going into the game – no excuses – and did we honestly give our best in that game? We were in the game at half-time and again things happened and we fell apart. So we looked at that in terms of trying to remain closer as a team and just making sure that if we do get beaten it is not due to a lack of effort.
What areas have the team focused on in pre-season?
Our conversion rate on attack, once we’ve made a linebreak, has got to be better. We were poor in terms of our conversion rate, even though we have game-breakers across the field. We have to capitalise when we do get the opportunity to score. Areas of our breakdown work in terms of getting quick ball could definitely improve. We have also looked at areas of our set piece, so that we have a decent platform to launch from on attack.
What are your goals for 2018?
We haven’t really set an outcome goal, like saying we want to beat a certain team. We have set performance and individual targets as a team and as individuals. We feel that if we can hit those criteria or get as close to them every single game then the results will take care of themselves. The boys tend to get very deflated if you set an outcome goal and then miss out on it due to external influences. So we want to make sure that they have something they can continually work towards.
How many of last year’s squad are still available for selection?
We have around 9 or 10 guys from last year, so hopefully they will be more mature and look at their game management. We want them to be able to play the situation instead of pre-meditating what they would like to do.
Who do you expect to be your toughest opposition this year?
We don’t set the goal of beating a particular side. We will analyse our performance after every game. It is very much linked to the boys’ mindset. They are going to get overloaded with rugby for a lengthy period of the season. We just want to ensure our environment is good and we are ticking all the boxes in terms of our conditioning and technical work, so we know that we can contest the game on a Saturday.
Interview by Dylan Jack
Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images