‘We can play some good rugby’

Keo.co.za talks to Free State U18 coach Dirkie Groenewald about this year’s Craven Week.

Which school has the most players in the Free State Craven Week side, and has that school been the best performer in the Free State region?
Grey College have 16 players and they’re No 1 on the FNB schools rankings. There are also five players from HTS Louis Botha and one from Hoerskool Sentraal.

How many players from last year will feature in this year’s campaign?
We have six – Neethling Fouché [tighthead prop, Grey], Thuso Chalatsi [lock, HTS], Gerrard Olivier [lock, Grey], KK Hlongwane [scrumhalf, HTS] and Rudolph Botha [reserve prop, Grey].

Who will be your key players at Craven Week?
The centre pairing of Jan Serfontein [inside centre, Grey] and Andries ‘Dries’ Swanepoel [outside centre, Grey].

Who is your captain and why did you give him the responsibility?
Swanepoel, who captains Grey College and is their head boy too. He’s got good leadership skills.

What are Free State’s strengths?
We have a very good pack of forwards, we’re well balanced, we can pass the ball around, and can play some good rugby.

Will you change the team’s approach for this year’s campaign?
Yes, we will change a little bit, because we have new players in the team.

Which team do you expect to give you a tough time?
The Lions, Pumas and Western Province … they’re going to be the teams to beat in this year’s tournament, especially WP.

Free State come up against the Pumas in their first match. What threat do they pose?
I saw them play play against Griquas. They’re quick with the ball and they have a very good pack of forwards.

Can the current team replicate the performances displayed by last year’s winning team?
I definitely think so. This team has talent, they’re a really special group. However, every team is different, and this is the case with this year’s and last year’s team. This side has enough talent to win this year’s Craven Week. They’re a quite good bunch of players.

By Soyiso Maliti