‘It’s not about the school’

Keo.co.za talks to Western Province U18 coach Chris October about this year’s Craven Week.

How long have you been involved in WP rugby?
I have worked with WP rugby for the past 20 years, but only started coaching in 2005. I became head coach of the Craven Week team last year. I was given a one-year deal but arranged with WP to continue this year.

Which school has the most players in the WP side, and has that school been the best performer in the Western Cape?
Paul Roos has seven players but the best performers have been Paarl Boys’. But it’s not about the school – and I’m going to be very clear about that. We have a selection policy.

How many players from last year’s Craven Week team are in this year’s team?
There are five: Cheslin Kolbe [fullback, Brackenfell], Andrea Dercksen [No 8, Paul Roos), Jean-Paul Lewis [winger, Paul Roos], Sikhumbuzo Notshe [flanker, Wynberg] and Tshepo Motale [tighthead prop, Bishops].

Who is your captain, and why did you give him the responsibility?
Notshe, who played for SA Schools last year. He’s a born leader and leads by example. And as for the rest, you’ll see for yourself as to why I chose him.

Who will be your key players at Craven Week?
I don’t have any key players – everyone is important in the team.

WP play KZN in their opening game. What threat will they pose?
Honestly, they’re completely unknown to us and we’re also unknown to them. We must just make sure that we cover the basics, prepare ourselves well and make sure we’re ready for whatever is thrown at us.

What was the key to the success of last year’s team?
My players had a good attitude and a very high work rate.

Will you change the approach of the team for this year’s campaign?
If you want to change the approach of a team, you’ll have to change the coach. I keep on telling the boys that keeping the balance and accuracy is very important – at all times. Then obviously there’s the basics: they’re a part and parcel of the game that you must adhere to, and technically, you have to be up to the challenge. If you have the basics, you stand a good chance.

Which teams do you expect to give your boys a hard time?
Honestly, all the big provinces. They’re all problematic to WP. But as I said, on any given day, accuracy will give you a chance.

What are you coaching ambitions?
I’m just a servant of the game, it’s not about Chris. In having said that, I do have aspirations. For now I just want to enhance my knowledge as a coach, but I would like to coach one of the big teams … maybe one day.

By Soyiso Maliti