SARugbymag.co.za chats to Affies 1st XV coach Sakkie van der Walt about the upcoming season.
How many of last year's 1st XV players are still in the squad?
Five, but only four of them, loosehead prop DP du Plessis, flank Gavin Forster, wing Tiaan Schmullian and fullback Eduan Keyter, played every match. The fifth, who also happens to be our first-choice flyhalf, Dale Hendricks, was ruled out with an injury midway through the season. He's back to full fitness and ready to play.
What has been your main focus in preparing for this season?
The boys have been following a strict pre-season programme and they've been working out in the gym. We have light sessions twice a week, but our official training gets underway at the end of February.
Who are the key players in your squad?
We don't believe in singling out players and branding them as individual stars, but the five guys who played in the 1st XV last year must step up and take the lead because they are now the seniors.
What lessons have you learned from last season?
Every new season hold its own challenges. It's of no use going into a season with a complacent mindset because of previous successes. The key factors to a successful season are hard work and commitment, not history. Nothing should be taken for granted.
What will be your toughest game this season?
Our games against Grey College and Pretoria Boys High are always show-stoppers. Against these teams, looking good on paper means nothing as on the day everything is 50/50. Anyone can win and it wouldn't be an upset.
What goals have you set for the season?
We're aiming for an unbeaten season, but if you look at the calibre of teams we're playing against, it will be tough. Short-term, we want to improve in every game.