SARugbymag.co.za chats to Rondebosch 1st XV coach Mark Lindenberg about the upcoming schools season.
How many of last year’s 1st XV players are still in the squad?
We have nine players back from last year: Chulu Mputing at tighthead prop, Suhaib Ajmoodien at hooker, Braden Tredoux at lock, Cal Smid at No 8, captain Robbie Davies at scrumhalf, Van der Byl Blake at flyhalf, vice-captain Zaka Salie at inside centre, Donald Falconer at outside centre, and Ross Roode on the left wing.
What has been your main focus in preparing for this season?
Conditioning, both mental and physical, practical understanding of how to compete, and enjoyment.
Who are the key players in your squad?
Among the forwards, Suhaib Ajmoodien will lead the scrums and be key to how we perform at set pieces, as will Braden Tredoux, who leads our lineouts and will largely be the strategist among the forwards. We will rely on Chulu Mputing to make his size, strength and skill really count and Cal Smid to unlock the defences. Among the backs, Robbie Davies will captain the team and be the master strategist working closely with Charlie Post, our attack coach. He has real X-factor and an eye for any weakness. Zaka Sallie is vice-captain and in charge of our defence. He can play eighth man or centre, we will rely on him for his communication, X-factor and ability to fight tough, especially under pressure. Van Der Byl Blake is a big, strong flyhalf/centre, has a huge and very clever boot, is well skilled and will ask questions all day of the defence. Donald Falconer is an abrasive runner and an excellent tackler who also possesses X-factor. We then have Ross Roode with a step that keeps you guessing. We have a number of Grade 11s with lots of ability and a point to prove so, it’s a real squad effort this year.
Who will be your toughest opposition this year?
The ‘farm’ schools – Paarl Boys’, Paul Roos and Boland Landbou – are always the toughest. We relish the contest, knowing full well that we are playing the best schoolboy teams in the country and the world.
What lessons have you learned from last season?
Personally, to be more people orientated. To get to know and understand the individuals and how to coach them to achieve their goals while getting them to commit to the team’s values and aspirations. To ensure we offer an educational experience that focuses on values and enjoyment of the physically competitive environment.
What are your goals for the 2017 campaign?
The squad has come up with a real focus on the process. So our goal is to be able to look back at the end of the season and know that we have made real progress with each of our values as a team, and as individuals. These values are love/respect for each other, commitment to the team, effort in everything we do, self-improvement each day in everything, and enjoyment. In terms of outcomes, we want to prepare to win every game, every time. We know it’s nearly impossible but that’s what excites us.
Interview by Ollie K,eohane