SARugbymag.co.za chats to Outeniqua 1st XV coach Piet Cloete about the upcoming season.
How many of last year's 1st XV players are still in the squad?
Of our 22-man squad, eight players from last year's 1st XV remain. They are now the senior members in the team.
What has been your main focus in preparing for this season?
Because this is a relatively new team we started very early with them. From September to December we've been working, focusing primarily on conditioning. Apart from that and in between their individual academic workloads, the 1st XV has had trial matches this year already and they practise four days a week.
Who are the key players in your squad?
Locks Eduard Zandberg and Anton Smit, who both made the SWD Craven Week squad last year.
What lessons have you learned from last season?
There's no such thing as an easy game. You must prepare accordingly for every team you play against. When you are ranked in the top 10 [they were second last year], everyone wants to beat you. We've learned the hard way that depth is vital. Injuries may occur; players might be chosen for higher honours, making them unavailable for the school, and suddenly you sit with a depleted squad. So we want to ensure should that happen, the players filling that void are just as good.
What will be your toughest game this year?
Our inter-school games against Paarl Gymnasium and Paarl Boys' High are crackers every year. But the SWD league game against Oakdale will be the toughest, especially away from home.
What goals have you set for the season?
Our long-term goal is to be ranked in the top 10 again. Our short-term goals are to do well in the pre-season games at Pukke’s festival and to win the SWD Super League.