SARugbymag.co.za chats to SACS 1st XV coach Nicholas Maurer about the upcoming season.
How are your preparations going?
Our big focus in this block of pre-season is skill development and conditioning. The whole squad is working really hard to be in the frame for selection into the 23-man squad for St Stithians Easter Festival at the end of March.
What are the areas that the team has been focused on in preparing for this season?
We’ve introduced a few initiatives to track player fatigue and workload in a more effective manner. SACS do not play a squad system in the league season so it’s tough for the same 15 players to perform at their peak week in and week out. Player management is thus a big focus for us in 2018.
What are some of the lessons that you as a coach and the team itself will be taking away from last season?
We need to keep reminding ourselves that anything is possible in rugby. You can beat the best if you have belief and put in the necessary effort. You can also lose to an inferior opponent if your mental preparation is even slightly off the mark. There is zero room for complacency.
You had a memorable 2017, beating the likes of Paarl Gym and Grey High. How do you plan to continue that successful trend?
Our goal is to work really hard to improve in all areas of our game. We understand that 2017 is a thing of the past and that we need to prove ourselves once again in 2018.
How many of last year’s squad are still available for selection?
There are eight players who played more than 50% of the games for the 1st XV in 2017. I prefer to focus on the team rather than the individual so it would be unfair to single out any of these players by name. A real positive is that we have a strong leadership group which forms the core of the squad. As always, we will be looking for hungry youngsters to step up and earn a place in the side.
What are some of the goals, in terms of performance and results, that the team is targeting for this season?
Our goals are not really results orientated. We prefer to focus on the process. Our major focus is to prepare well, give our best and enjoy every opportunity we get to represent SACS 1st XV in 2018.
Who will be your toughest opposition this year?
Most of our fixtures are against tough opposition so it would be foolish to single out one opponent in particular. For us, every game is a unique event with an entirely new set of circumstances and opportunities. We relish the opportunity to test ourselves against the best teams in the country so we are grateful to compete in the Western Province Premier League.
Interview by Dylan Jack