Kimberley - Griquas fullback AJ Coertzen says the recent 44-31 win against the Free State XV has given the men from Kimberley plenty of confidence as they aim to qualify for the Currie Cup Premier Division.
Griquas scored five tries in a spectacular victory over their neighbours last weekend, which gives them an unassailable log lead in the Currie Cup qualifying standings. After nine games, the Kimberley-based union has enjoyed eight bonus-point wins to accumulate 40 log points, eight log points more than second-placed Western Province.
With all Super Rugby franchises guaranteed a Currie Cup Premier Division spot for this year’s domestic competition, Griquas are likely to be one of three unions to qualify for the prestigious South African tournament with seven rounds remaining.
Coertzen said the players are currently brimming with confidence in the Griquas camp.
“Our main goal for the season is to qualify for a Currie Cup Premier Division spot. Not only to qualify, but to compete for the top honours in South African rugby,” Coertzen told MyPlayers.
“During the qualifying rounds, we are preparing hard for every match. The victory over the Cheetahs was definitely the highlight result for Griquas this season so far. The forwards did really well at the lineouts and scrums, even securing a penalty try with a pushover scrum. The backs also did well, especially with ball in hand. Being able to score a great team try late in the match was an awesome moment.
“But in saying that, we need to put that victory behind us. We need to remain focused as we have some tough games coming up, starting with the Lions this weekend. If we can continue with our good momentum and play according to our game plan as a unit, we will do well.”
Hailing from Bloemfontein, where he started his professional rugby career at the Cheetahs, the 25-year-old is enjoying his new chapter at Griquas.
“Kimberley is a very small town, but I’ve settled in quite nicely here. The players are a tight group of guys and we have close relationship with all the fans, who offer great support,” explained Coertzen.
“I currently share a house with four team-mates - our captain RJ Liebenberg, AJ le Roux and Ewald van der Westhuizen. Ewald’s nickname is ‘Kop’... not sure anybody will recognise his real first name!
“Most of the players have recently signed contract extensions until the end of the 2017 season, which is a great step forward for Griquas rugby. This eliminates the uncertainty among the players, who usually are not sure where they will be next season. By committing their futures for the next two years will set a great foundation for us to build as a squad.”
Off the field, Coertzen keeps himself busy with his studies as he’s pursuing a degree in education.
“I’m currently studying education through Kovsies (Free State University). This year is my final year, which I’m excited about,” said Coertzen. “I spend two hours a week at Eureka Primary School - one hour on my off day and one hour every Thursday. I teach technology and sports science, and have a great relationship with all the wonderful kids. I want to be a coach one day, so being able to work at grassroots level is giving me great experience.
“Looking ahead, I want to complete my degree and help Griquas do well on the domestic scene. In the long term, I want to play my way into a Super Rugby practice squad and hopefully earn my place in the final team. I’d love the opportunity to prove myself at Super Rugby level.”
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