SARugbymag.co.za chats to Affies 1st XV coach Jan-Hendrik Hattingh about the 2017 season.
How many players from last year’s 1st XV will play again this year?
We have three returning 1st XV players: flank Jaco Labuschagne, outside centre Marnus Potgieter and flyhalf/fullback Charles Goedhals.
What has been your main focus in preparing for this season?
We placed emphasis during pre-season on the strength and conditioning of the boys and their skill levels. It’s quite a long season and the boys must be in peak physical condition to have any chance of making it through the year without any serious injuries.
Who are the key players in Affies’ squad?
The three above-mentioned players, simply because of their experience with the 1st XV last year. They’ll have a calming effect on their teammates, especially during the opening few games of the season. And our hooker, Joe van Zyl, is another key man in our team. We need him to play well.
Who will be your toughest opposition this year?
There are no easy games, each one is as tough as the other. We are up against an extremely tough field again this year. Apart from our local derbies against Waterkloof and Jeppe, we also take on Grey College, Paarl Boys’, Paarl Gym, Paul Roos and Outeniqua, to mention a few. All these games are going to be challenging.
What lessons have you learned from last season?
Multiple injuries to key players cost us last season. We have to improve our player rotation policy in order to remain competitive throughout the year. Every player in our squad should sit out a couple of games at some stage this season, so we’ll have to work out rotations according to game difficulty and our travel schedule.
What are your goals for the team this year?
It’s just to prepare for games separately and by that I mean in-depth analysis of every opponent we will face in 2017. And to be competitive in every fixture, regardless of winning or losing.
Photo: Yolanda du Plessis/Affies