SARugbymag.co.za chats to Outeniqua director of rugby Pieter Cloete about the upcoming season.
How are your preparations going?
We are very much on track with our preparations. We have just finished trials and chosen a squad of 27 boys who practice four times a week and sometimes twice a day. If you want to play with the big dogs you have to practice like them. We are quite happy with how things are going.
What are some of the areas that the team has focused on in preparing for the 2018 season?
Like most of the teams, we are concentrating on conditioning and fitness. We are quite happy with our testing in the gym. We focused a lot on conditioning in the early stages of pre-season, but now after the trials, we are beginning with the technical stuff. We are fortunate enough to have a coach like Abre Minnie, who used to work at Griquas. He is giving the team structures.
What lessons have the team learned from last season?
We had a solid 2017. We did not start that well because we had quite a few injuries. There was a time in the season where we had seven or eight boys out with an injury. In the second half of the season, when everybody was back, we had a great run with seven unbeaten games, which included wins against Paarl Gym and Oakdale. In that time, when we were struggling, I think the boys learned a lot about themselves and pulled together stronger as a team. Hopefully, they can take what they learned from that stage and carry that over to 2018. There are still a number of players left from last season so hopefully, they have gained some experience from last year.
How many of last year’s squad are still available for selection?
We still have flank Ruben Coetzee, fullback Darren Fortuin and wing Dillon Pitersen, who all played for SWD at the U18 Craven Week last year. So we will have an experienced core of players to guide some of the new guys. We also had quite a strong group of U16 players last year and a few of them will be going up to the 1st XV this year.
What are your goals for 2018?
We set different goals for different stages of the season. The first goal focuses on our participation in the North-South tournament at Menlopark. Last year, we did not go well there because of our injury crisis, so the first goal is to do better this time. One of our main goals is to be the winner of the SWB, the competition for our region. It is always a challenge to play Paarl Gym and Paarl Boys’ High and we play both of them this season. We nearly beat Paarl Boys’ a couple of seasons ago, so one of our goals is to upset their season. We are also very excited to be participating in the Boys’ High 150th anniversary tournament and playing against overseas schools.
Who do you expect to be your toughest opposition this year?
In our region, Oakdale are always a tough team to play against and they have a very talented group of players this year. We will need to beat them if we want to win the SWB. We are also playing Garsfontein and Menlopark at the North-South so that will also be tough.
Interview by Dylan Jack