Saldanha going for their third title in five years

“There’s always pressure from the community. People are fanatical about the team. There is also the pressure that comes with being champions, but I reckon we are in a good space. The guys know what it’s about,” says coach Travor Pieterse.

He adds that Saldanha Bay aren’t approaching the tournament with the mindset of retaining the trophy.

“Our mission is to compete for the trophy. We don’t see it as something that is in our possession. We are going to compete like any other team. We shouldn’t think of ourselves as Boland champions. We are past that stage,” says Pieterse.

Indeed, Saldanha Bay don’t expect to have it all their own way when they make the trek Saturday to go and play Robertson.

“Robertson is a good, well-coached team. They’re especially big up front. They’ve got good inside backs and big wings. They’re a neat package, a physical team,” says Pieterse.

As for his team, he says that they enjoy seeking space but are comfortable engaging physically.

“We can do both sides of the coin. While we enjoy carrying the ball, we don’t shy away when faced with size,” says Pieterse.

While confident, Saldanha Bay aren’t boldly predicting a victory.

“We want to accurately execute what we have worked on. You can’t take a team like Robertson lightly. If things work out the way we trained, the guys stick to the system and each guy does his bit, I’m sure we will have a good game,” says Pieterse.

Saldanha Bay kick off the tournament in a better space than last year, when they had to contend with a lot of injuries.

“We have far fewer medical issues and players who played in the tournament for the first time last year now have a feel for it,” says Pieterse.

Rodvill Jonkers, an exciting fullback from Vredenburg, has linked up with Saldanha Bay, while the International Rugby Institute in Saldanha has also delivered a talented flyhalf in Marius Viviers. Samuel Greyling, formerly of the Naka Bulls in Pretoria, also provides a good option at inside centre. Pieterse is also looking forward to another big season from wings Riaan Louw and Mikyle Hanse.

He says that the club community is buzzing about the influx of sponsors for the Top12. Sanlam headlines a list that includes Vumatel, Tekkie Town, Santam and Umbro.

“We’ve spoken a bit about what Boland offers us as a club and the broader community in general,” says Pieterse.

“People are excited about the sponsors that have come on board. It gives us hope. We’re looking forward to it.”