1. You have a wealth of experience and have coached in a number of associations. Are you relishing the schoolboy rugby challenge?
Yes, I do it is a new challenge altogether, but a nice one. It won’t be totally unfamiliar to me as I have work with school boys and consulted for schools on numerous occasions before.
2. Durban High School has a history that is unique. Do you feel that the right type of pressure is needed to ensure DHS stay front runners in rugby in KZN?
There is definitely a drive to improve and re-install high levels of performance at the school. Pressure, if applied wrongly, can be more detrimental than good. If we can establish the right training and coaching environment, supported by the traditional ethos of the school, we will go along way in establishing the pressure you are eluding to.
3. There has been a recent success for DHS in the likes of Phepsi Buthelezi, Sanele Nohamba and Celimphilo Gumede. Can you see more boys following suite?
I only started at DHS recently, and am still familiarizing myself with coaches, players etc. From what I have experienced so far, I am very positive that more players will follow suit. There definitely are a few talented boys coming through, and with the right guidance and support, can go a long way.
4. South Africa has one of the best school trial systems in the world. From the U13 Craven Week then U16 Grant Khomo to U18 Craven Week. Would you agree that this system is working and bringing out the necessary talent to feed our franchises?
Yes and no. It does create a good pathway for young players but it also bottlenecks the process a bit. I have seen a lot of very talented young players stop playing the game because they feel they haven’t made it if they had not been in a provincial setup by age 21.
5. Our reputation as a nation is that we are known for brute strength in rugby. How do you find the balance between working on skills and strength and also adapting to the evolving game?
Brute strength or physicality, and skills and “flair”, are like two flip sides of the same coin. Sometimes you will have to rely more on the one, and other times on the other. Having a good understanding of the building blocks of rugby, and how they fit together and compliment each other, comes from years of experience. Rugby is quite unique in that there are so many different components to work on, or to keep in consideration – fitness components and systems, technical and skills ones, and then also macro areas of the game. I consider all of these all the time and then “chop and change” as needed.
I am a firm believer that you have to re-invent every second year at least. Not be afraid to think outside the box or push the limits.
6. You spent some time in New Zealand. Would you be able to sum up what makes their culture so strong when it comes to rugby?
Yes, they are definitely a rugby country, just like South Africa. The people are very passionate and the rugby at club and school rugby is very much community based. This already makes it a cultural thing. The socio-cultural make up of players across the country is also quite diverse and their communities all bring something different to the game.
On a more professional level, having a wealth of good coaches and naturally talented players around also creates a rugby culture.
7. You have been the Technical Advisor for the New Zealand rugby team and for a few of the franchises in New Zealand for Super Rugby. Do the franchises follow a similar pattern of play that ultimately gives New Zealand rugby what they are looking for?
Actually they don’t. Franchises play their own brands, although there is constant communication between them as well as the national body and coaches. They share a lot of ideas, and have a lot of astute coaches in their systems. This means that they can have a healthy level of variety, or depth, in their game but still follow a blueprint or adhere to suggestions and requests from the All Blacks coaches.
8. What can we look forward to from DHS in the upcoming rugby season?
I can probably throw a lot of things in here, and they will all sound very fluffy and nice. But at the end of the day I want to see our coaches and players grow and see constant and continuous progress and improvement on the field. We want to play a brand that will be nice for spectators to watch, and players to play on top of it.
9. Calm, collected and focused as few words that describe you which is a combination that is needed for success at schoolboy rugby. What else could contribute to your success at DHS?
Excitement and hard work from everyone involved, and coaches and players being able to express themselves. Also guidance and assistance from the school coaches who have a lot more experience at school boy level than me.
Interviewed by: Ryan Smith
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