‘We must stay focused’

SARugbymag.co.za chats to Garsfontein head of rugby Retief Smith about the upcoming season.

How many of last year's 1st XV players are still in the squad?
We had a very thin squad last year, so we drafted in seven grade-11s. They gained some experience last year and this year they'll be the leaders of the team.

What has been your main focus in preparing for this season?
The boys' skills development and conditioning was our first priority and we worked relentlessly on it during the off-season.

Who are the key players in your squad?
We build our backline moves around centre Franco Naudé. He is a big, strong and very physical player. He was in grade 11 last year, but still forced his way into the Bulls' Craven Week team.

What lessons have you learned from last season?
We should never get complacent or underestimate our opponents. We must stay focused and motivated throughout the entire season and not lose our heads as the season wanes.

What will be your toughest game this year?
We've highlighted our three most difficult games at the beginning of the year, which are Menlopark, Waterkloof and Affies. I don't know the strength of these teams yet; personally, I think our sternest test will come against Affies. Even when they lose players [who matriculated], they are always a strong team.

What goals have you set for the season?
Though it's important to win, our goal is to develop our boys and prepare them for adulthood to the best of our abilities. When they leave here, they should not only be great rugby players, but academically set for the future as well.

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