Menlopark 1st XV coach Dean van der Watt talks to MARIETTE ADAMS about their knockout Beeld Trophy match against Kempton Park in Pretoria on Saturday.
What is the biggest challenge facing your team in this round-of-16 match against Kempton Park?
Right now, it’s the race against time to get our players on the park. The entire team, myself included, are struggling with some sort of a winter bug. They must have infected each other, but hopefully they will be well rested and fit to play tomorrow.
Is there a specific game plan Menlopark will follow?
Most certainly. We like to give the ball a bit of air and attack space to speed up the tempo of the match. But as I said, we need 15 fit players on the field to do that.
Which individuals will play a key role for Menlopark?
We’ve got a few provincial players in the side, but it will take a team effort to take down Kempies, who will be just as motivated to advance to the quarter-finals.
Are Kempton Park your toughest Beeld Trophy opponents so far this year?
Not at all. We’ve had a few difficult matches this year, but EG Jansen were the toughest. And the winner of our game against Kempton Park will face EG Jansen in the quarter-final.
Have you identified Kempton Park’s strong and weak points?
Yes, but I don’t want to tell you [laughs]. OK, they have an exceptional midfield combination. Their centres have been good all season – giving the team good go-forward momentum. They are very weak in the forwards and we will be looking to target them at the set piece.
How important will winning this match be in the context of Menlopark’s season?
I’d rate it as the most important victory of all so far. In the previous Beeld Trophy and Tuks Series games, we could still lose and make amends in the next match. If we lose on Saturday, our season is done and that it not how we want to go out.
Do you have any injury concerns?
Only one. Lock Ruan Straueli [son of Rudolf] has failed a fitness test and will not play against Kempies.