Tony Stoops examines the 2015 Outeniqua 1st XV and previews what lies in store for the Kwaggas this season.
Oakdale’s hopes of continuing their reign in the South Western Cape this season might be in serious jeopardy if George powerhouse Outeniqua have any say in matters.
Indeed, the Eagles’ outstanding performance in last year’s Coca-Cola Craven Week in Middelburg can be put down to both schools fielding particularly strong teams.
Don’t be fooled by the fact that, while the Kwaggas have bid farewell to Le Roux Baard (no 8/hooker), Corné de Klerk (full-back/wing), Niven Langdown (anywhere between 9 and 15), giant lock Eduard Zandberg and front row juggernaut Wynand de Necker, the Riversdale Bulle’s only major losses have been SA Schools centre JT Jackson and full-back Ruan Barnard.
Even bearing this in mind, Outeniqua’s track-record over the last few years points to an almost continuous conveyor belt of highly successful squads.
And 2015 promises to be no different.
This year’s 1st XV squad contains an impressive number of youngsters with 2014 interprovincial credentials. Five represented the Craven Week Eagles; two, the Academy Week team; seven players played at last year’s Grant Khomo Week and one played for the province’s Under 19 side, effectively the Under 18 C team.
While the team has obviously still to be finalized, initial suggestions appear to favour the following line-up.
Darryle Kameel, a new arrival at full-back from HTS Daniel Pienaar, where he turned out for the EP Grant Khomo team, will offer elusive running from the full-back berth, while Bradley Kiewitz – younger brother of 2014 campaigner Curtley – and Logan Stoffels, the left and right wings, played respectively for the SWD Grant Khomo and Academy Week sides.
It is in the midfield, however, that the George side looks like particularly potent.
Highly-rated inside centre JP Duvenage, a Craven Week cap, and Grant Khomo rep Lance Lambrecht on his outside will have the experience and judgement of last year’s 9 and 10 pairing of Derick Minnie and Manie Libbok, the latter a 2014 SA Schools trialist and a current SA Under 18 7s player, to ensure cohesion among the threequarters.
Libbok and Duvenage are expected to take care of the goalkicking duties, a responsibility they successfully shared for a large part of last campaign.
No. 8 Levuju Ndevu (Craven Week) and 2015 skipper Niel Otto (Academy Week) will pack down on the sides of the scrum along with André Coetzee, one of only two players uncapped at provincial level.
It will fall to the other debutant, Henco Meyers, and returning first-teamer Pieter Steenkamp to fill the second-row boots of the towering Eduard Zandberg.
This potential weakness is more than compensated for by a redoubtable front row comprising two Craven Week props, Andrew Kuhn and Roux Swart, on either side of SWD Under 19 hooker Stefan Gerber.
As if that’s not a sufficient abundance of riches, the reserve bench boasts two more 2014 Grant Khomo caps in Justin Levendal and Jason Groenewald.
All the signs point to the side fulfilling the ever-high expectations of their large Garden Route fan base with the relentless driving of the forwards establishing a platform which their quickfooted backs are sure to utilize to their fullest advantage.
Fans in the Cape Peninsula are in the fortunate position of being able to see both of the Kwaggas’ opening forays. They play Rondebosch at the Paul Roos 150 Day (Saturday 28 March) and Noord-Kaap the following Thursday, 4 April, at HS Tygerberg at TSRF 2015.
By Tony Stoops