Grey College believe Craven Week will help them to retain their No 1 SA schools ranking in the second half of the season.
The Bloemfontein school are unbeaten this year, having seen off (then No 2-ranked) Affies 23-6 in their last match. They haven’t had time to address the few problem areas of that performance as 17 of their match 22 have been involved in Craven Week trials, but this doesn’t concern director of rugby Dries van der Wal.
‘Craven Week gives our players the opportunity to maintain or improve their current form, so it’s [proven to be] a good break filler,’ he told keo.co.za. ‘Their fitness and conditioning doesn’t slip, and the game time they receive is good for their continuity [Free State plays at least three warm-up matches and three during Craven Week]. The Craven Week boys come back strong and fit, which gives us a definite advantage going forward.’
But Van der Wal has no intention of neglecting those players who haven’t been selected for Craven Week.
‘This school holiday is especially long [because of the soccer World Cup], so we’re extending the usual programme we make for players, which involves independent training that will keep them up to speed. It’s important the entire unit maintains its focus.’
After the break, Grey will play three tough away games – against Pretoria Boys, Glenwood and Grey PE – before hosting Paul Roos.
‘It is important we continue to follow our plan if we want to maintain our success,’ said Van der Wal. ‘Every game is a fresh challenge, and we have to go in with respect for our opposition. We won’t underestimate sides.’
By Rory Keohane