Griquas looking forward to Currie Cup
TAFEL Lager Griquas coach Peter Engledow believes that he has a short turn-around period to psyche up his squad for their opening Currie Cup clash against the Blue Bulls in Kimberley on Saturday . . . this against the backdrop of their defeat to Western Province in the inaugural SuperSport Rugby Challenge final this past weekend.
Ahead of the SuperSport final in Cape Town this past Sunday, Griquas were widely billed as the “surprise finalist”, which says a lot about the calibre of the team this season.
On Tuesday this week, barely a day after that bruising game against Western Province and several hours after touching down in Kimberley from the Cape, Engledow and his technical team were putting the Griqua squad through their paces at their Tafel Lager Park headquarters.
There was the all-important matter of preparing for the opening game of the Currie Cup season against the mighty Blue Bulls.
In his breakdown of Griquas’ defeat in the SuperSport final, coach Engledow did not mince his words: “Our kicking out of hand wasn’t good enough. We got turned over at the breakdown a lot so we couldn’t get any forced ball to play with. Plus, the fact that they scored 28 unanswered points in the first half made it difficult to come back from that.”
Engledow admits to a healthy respect for the Bulls side they will host on Saturday.
“They’re one of the biggest franchises in the country. They’re a big squad with lots of youngsters and lots of potential.”
But in the final analysis, he wants to be competitive and make it to the semi-finals of the Currie Cup.
Griquas have been boosted by the return of five players from Super Rugby. There are also three new signings in Sintu Manjezi, Wandile Putuma and Kevin Kaba as well as two more players from Maties.
There was no hesitation from Engledow when asked what Griquas are aiming to achieve in the Currie Cup. His unqualified answer was that they want to deliver more or less the same as what they did in the Super Rugby Challenge, which handed them a spot in the final.
“We have a winning culture here,” the coach remarked. “So far, we’ve had a good run. So it would be good to play this new (Currie Cup) season.”
He is also pleased that over the past season Griquas have been “winning more than losing”.
“The guys are eager to progress, we just don’t want to make up the numbers in the Currie Cup.”
Assistant coach Dave Hesketh echoed Engledow’s sentiments about their preparations for the Bulls game.
Hesketh, who was in charge of taking some of the new signings through the set-pieces on Tuesday, said that they had noted that the Bulls took great care with their line-outs and mauling.
Though the new guys won’t be playing it was important to get them used to the Griqua style of play, he said.
Taking lessons from the defeat to Western Province, Hesketh said key areas included decision making and applying consistent pressure.
Meanwhile, new signing Kevin Kaba, who hails from the Eastern Cape and plays loose-forward, said that he had seen some action for the EP Kings before injury laid him low. Before that he had played Varsity Cup for the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University.
This is his first week in Kimberley and he said that he is trying hard to acclimatise.
Sintu Manjezi, a lock/flank, spent his second day in Kimberley training with the Griqua squad. He acknowledged that the change from Port Elizabeth to the Northern Cape was tough on especially the lungs because of the altitude.
“Breathing is tougher here. It gets into your lungs and burns a lot,” he said with a laugh.
He, like Kaba, will also be pushing for a place in the regular squad.
Saturday’s match kick off at 7pm.