Garsfontein 1st XV coach Tjaart van der Walt speaks to MARIETTE ADAMS about his team’s Beeld Trophy semi-final against Monument on Tuesday.
Is there added pressure on Garsfontein because you are the defending Beeld Trophy champions?
Definitely. Our supporters expect us to go all the way again and the other teams want to beat the best. The fact that Monument beat us 29-11 earlier this year in the Tuks Series semi-final doesn’t help either.
What did you learn from that defeat to Monnas?
To not become complacent. We dominated the early parts of that game, took our foot of the peddle and paid the price. We let them back into the game and they never let up after that. We made far too many mistakes on the day.
Garsies have had an indifferent campaign with eight wins and six losses. How would you describe your season?
It’s not very good, is it? But if you look at our fixtures, we play the top sides in the country. It’s everyone’s game on match days. The games we’ve lost were against quality opposition, but sometimes these kids learn more from a loss than they do when winning everything. Most of the defeats we’ve suffered were because of our own mistakes. That is why we focused on accuracy in the lead-up to Tuesday’s semi-final. Injuries during the season also ensured that our team selection wasn’t as consistent as we’d have liked. Sometimes challenges come your way and you have to manage those them as best you can.
How pleasing would it be to successfully defend the Beeld Trophy given your struggles in 2016?
If we manage to win the competition back to back, it will be a marvellous season. Retaining the Beeld Trophy was our goal from the outset and should we achieve that, it would be a successful year regardless of what transpired in the league, the Tuks Series or our inter-provincial clashes.
How have Garsfontein prepared for the semi-final?
I don’t want to give too much away [laughs]. We’ve had a good week’s training. We only welcomed back our five SA Schools and SA Schools A players on Sunday, so the two extra days helped to get them up to speed with our plans.
What do you expect from Monnas?
Monnas have a good all-round side, but we are expecting a physical onslaught. They rely on the pack and use the driving maul as their main attacking weapon. But we are not underestimating the attacking threat their outside backs pose, especially on their home ground. We’ve prepared sufficiently for a forward-orientated game and for a running game. It’s going to be a good game between two quality sides going at each other with everything to play for. We are up for the challenge.
Do you have any team news and injuries updates?
For the first time since 22 March, we are able to pick our strongest XV because there are no injuries in the squad. The last time all our players were fit and available for selection was for our game against Paarl Gym, which we won 15-13. The guys returning from national duty in the U18 International Series – PJ Steenkamp, Emilio Adonis, Ryno Pieterse, Austin Davids and Abner van Reenen – will strengthen our ranks.
Photo: Kayleigh Kruger