Keo.co.za took you into the Newlands boardroom for the first presser of the season.
Kobus van der Merwe announced his side to take on the Bulls in a Super 14 warm-up on Saturday.
15. Justin Peach
14. Egon Seconds
13. Piet van Zyl
12. Gus Theron
11. Tonderai Chavhanga
10. Naas Olivier
9. Paul Delport
8. Dawid Hendricks
7. Justin Melck
6. Hendrik Gerber
5. Gerrie Britz
4. Henk Eksteen
3. Attie Winter
2. Schalk Brits (c)
1. Doug Wheatley
De Wet was an unanimous choice. He will be captain for the entire season. He won’t play all the games, and that’s where Schalk Burger will step in. He proved himself more than capable in the Currie Cup
ON DE WET’S INJURY
Luckily for De Wet he’s always been in good condition. It was a minor procedure so hopefully he’ll be back for the first game.
ON THE BULLS
It’s not a bad thing to throw youngsters in against the Bulls. They’re all competing for No 1 spots, so it’ll interesting to see how they respond. It’s always a catch 22 at this stage of the season, because of injuries. We saw the Cats pick up 3 injuries this week, so we made the decision not to risk the Springboks in our squad. It’s a nice opportunity for guys like Justin Melck to make a point.
ON POSSIBILITY OF DRAFTING
We had to name a squad, but it doesn’t mean we can’t look outside the squad. The extra franchise has thinned the resources, so there’s not a lot out there.
ON MAKING BRITS CAPTAIN FOR DEBUT AGAINST BULLS
Schalk did a great job leading the Cats forwards, and he was on the shorlist for the overall captaincy. He’s a very good leader, I think he’s looking forward to the challenge. He definitely has the support of the players he’s leading.
SCHALK BRITS ON SATURDAY
I can’t wait. It’s the toughest challenge I’ve had so I can’t wait.
KOBUS ON MANAGING DE WET AND JEAN
You can’t expect the Springboks to play 13 Super 14 games, then Tri Nations, then some Currie Cup. They can’t, you’ll break the guys before the Currie Cup. De Wet will remain captain whether he plays or not. De Wet has been practising at outside, Jean can play outside, Marius can play on the wing. In terms of that we have a lot of possibilities.
KOBUS ON CRUNCH GAMES
If it comes down to a crunch game, I certainly want De Wet Barry there.
KOBUS ON ROTATION POLICY
It’s difficult to say pre-tournament. There’s no guarantees, and anyone can lose form in a week or two. It’ll be our job to assess that. I think the guys on form will play 60-70% of the games, depending on fatigue.
KOBUS ON TARGETTING GAMES TO WIN
I don’t like targetting games. Cos if you don’t win those, you put a lot of pressure on the squad. I think how we start this competition is going to be very important. The first game against the Cats is going to be absolutely crucial. The first leg of 5 home games…that’s the absolutely crucial part. We need to take points with us on our away leg.
KOBUS ON INJURIES DISRUPTING PREPARATIONS
The Waratahs have started every season like a house on fire, but have faded in most seasons. The Crusaders have started slowly, but built up, ensuring they’ve won their home games. I’m not too concerned about injuries. The big concern will be if we pick up injuries in the next two warm up games.
KOBUS ON IF HE HAS A 1ST XV
We are not too sure about one or two positions, the next two games we’ll work them out. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to work out that if our Boks play against the Spears that’s probably our first team. Nothing is finalised though, and I think it is a nice challenge for everyone to ensure they’re there for the kick-off against the Cats.
KOBUS ON THE PROSPECT OF RELEGATION
Obviously we as coaches are thinking and talking about it quite a bit. There’s been a plea from the national coach to co-operate, but on the other hand it’s difficult because we are all squaring off against each other. The derbies are gonna have huge intensity. If you play to avoid relegation, though, that’s not the way to go about it. There’s a lot of optimism in the camp, and we are going out to do well in every game. We’re not gonna log watch. We need to win our home games and go overseas and see what we can get.
KOBUS ON RELEGATION CLAUSE
I don’t think it was thought through properly, in terms of the availability of players. It’ll be interesting to see how the Spears perform in the Currie Cup, that’ll give a better idea of how they’l shape up in the Super 14.
KOBUS ON THE BULLS SELECTION
They’re playing full strength. They’ve indicated they’re bringing 26 guys, I hope they don’t play all of them at once. But that’s great, it’s a nice challenge for us.
KOBUS ON THE POSSIBILITY OF A HAMMERING
I don’t think we’re fielding a below strength team. We’ve got to have a system in place where someone in the saddle gets the benefit of the doubt and the support of the coach. I think that’s fair, so it’s not an understrength team. It’s a bloody good team, a lot of the guys have played Super 12 and I could see the buzz in the practice today. I think the guys are going to do well on Saturday.
KOBUS ON COUNTERING THE BULLS PACK
We’ve spoken about that a lot in our preparations in the last few weeks. The one thing that stands out is the athleticism of our players, so it will be foolish to push the guys into situations that compromises their strengths. So a high-paced game is the way to go. We’ve got probably the most exciting backline in the competition and we want to use them and create opportunities for that. We are realistic, we know we need first phases possession to do that, and I’m confident we can secure that.