The Valke will be at full-strength for their opening match at Craven Week against Griquas.
The Valke Rugby Union is an amalgamation of the old Eastern Transvaal and Vaal Triangle provincial entities, which is a challenge when it come to selection and practising, as the players come from a widespread area.
It is, however, something they have learnt to get around and coach Anton Lubbe is happy with the team’s preparation.
‘It’s been a logistical nightmare, though, as we have only four players from the Vaal so we have practiced on the East Rand every time and they have had to travel,’ he told keo.co.za
The Valke had a poor run-in to the Craven Week. They lost all four warm-up games – to the Leopards, the Golden Lions, and twice to the Limpopo Blue Bulls. Their opening game is against Griquas on day two and Lubbe has the same concerns about team selection that plagues the other coaches we have spoken to.
‘We know we have to win our opening game to progress, so we will be fielding our first choice line-up against Griquas, and I am confident that we will be competitive,’ said Lubbe.
‘The problem will be in our second game where we will have to play all our reserves, according the rules. I have been the coach at six Craven Weeks and the pattern with unions like us is that we win our first game and are then up against a bigger province that has already fielded a few reserves in game one, so we battle on day two.’
The 2010 Valke captain is EG Jansen eighthman Ruaan Lerm. He has the pedigree to be a provincial skipper, having also captained his province at the U13 Craven Week and U16 Grant Khomo Week. This is his second U18 Craven Week and he is looking forward to the experience.
‘I was a youngster in the team that played in East London last year and we did not do that well,’ he said. ‘I have learnt a lot though and I am sure we will give a good account of ourselves this time around.
‘We do not have as many schools to choose our team out of as some of the other provinces and most of the players come from my school – EG Jansen in Boksburg. That is an advantage because we all know each other’s play and once the other players get used to the pattern we should do well.’
Lerm has already had offers from one or two of the provincial academies and he sees rugby as his future. He is a Bulls supporter and, as a No 8, Pierre Spies is his hero.
‘I like the way he combines strength and power with ball skills,’ he said. ‘That’s the way I would like to play one day.’
Valke – 15 Ruan Barnard (EG Jansen), 14 Otavio Fortuin (Hertzorg), 13 Damian Van Wyk (Kempton Park), 12 Gersham Helder (Jeugland) 11 Keanu Roman (Overvaal), 10 Michael Holtzhausen (EG Jansen), 9 Wynand Venter (Jeugland), 8 Ruaan Lerm (EG Jansen), 7 Stephan de Witt (Transvalia), 6 Isaac Nkosi (Oosterlig), 5 Ruaan Botha (Jeugland), 4 Pieter Matthee (EG Jansen), 3 Wiehan Hay (Jeugland), 2 Ruan de Bruto (EG Jansen), James Jackson (EG Jansen).
Subs: 16 Ian Oosthuizen (Jeugland), 17 Vincent Legae (General Smuts), 18 Tiaan Benade (Kempton Park), 19 Tumi Pooe (Drie Riviere), 20 Armand Erasmus (EG Jansen), 21 Katlego More (Hans Moore), 22 Juandre Kotze (EG Jansen).
By Gauteng correspondent