Gareth Duncan - MyPlayers.co.za
Port Elizabeth - Southern Kings scrumhalf Ricky Schroeder says they have been working during pre-season to ensure they perform well as a collective during Super Rugby.
Schroeder is one of the players in the Southern Kings squad excited to play regular Super Rugby this season. He joined the Port Elizabeth-based team mid-season during 2016, having made the move down from the Lions, and went on to captain the side during last year’s Currie Cup.
As a collective, Schroeder said the Kings are focused on improving game by game during Super Rugby.
“We had a very good pre-season. It’s the time of year that’s not ideal for a rugby player because we know there will be a lot of running! But on a serious note, the time spent together as a squad was really beneficial for all players involved as many of us achieved our personal bests from a strength and conditioning point of view, so the team is in great shape,” Schroeder told MyPlayers.
“We also created a strong culture and formed a great brotherhood among each other. As a team, we have established a system to accommodate all the guys - new and old. We made it very clear from the start that there are no hierarchal structures within the team. So it makes communication easier among each other, so everyone’s opinions are equally valued and taken into account. This makes for a great team environment.
“We have set out some team goals to achieve during Super Rugby this season, but our main focus is to take it game for game and to excel in every match.”
Schroeder added that the new Kings jersey produced by Canterbury has also inspired the players.
“When I saw the jersey for the first time, I literally got goosebumps and that feeling was definitely evident among the other players. So it is really great to have Canterbury involved as we look to wear the jersey with pride.”
As a halfback, Schroeder finds himself among familiar faces this season as flyhalf Lionel Cronje and scrumhalf Louis Schreuder have joined the Southern Kings.
“Yeah, it was great to see some familiar faces at the first day of training,” explained Schroeder. “Lionel Cronje and I were gym partners at Western Province back in 2011. Louis and I also played together during our time in Cape Town.
“It’s good having them in the squad. We all constantly look to help each other. Louis and I focus on the finer details of being a ‘scrummie’. We roomed together at our training camp in Port Alfred, so the two of us had loads of laughs reminiscing about our Province days.
“Looking at the squad as a whole, there’s a good blend between youth and senior campaigners, which makes this journey so much more exciting.”
The Kings face the Jaguares at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium for their opening Super Rugby fixture of the season.
Schroeder believes the team will be up for the challenge.
“From past fixtures, we know that they are a very physical team… one that loves to throw the ball around. So it will be a massive challenge for us, but we look forward to take it on,” he said.
On a personal level, Schroeder is enjoying life in Port Elizabeth. He’s also very involved with the locals off the field, especially when it comes to motivating the youth.
“Moving from Johannesburg to Port Elizabeth has been quite easy. We all know PE as the friendly city!” said Schroeder. “So the reception has been a good one and I am thoroughly enjoying my stay over here. The luxury of the beach is not a bad thing either!
“I just want to make the most of my opportunities at the Kings. Super Rugby is such a prestigious tournament, and I really look forward to compete with the best in world rugby. Every kid wants to play Super Rugby during their career, so it’s a massive honour for me to be part of this squad.
“Off the field, I’m very passionate when it comes to motivating the youth, especially in a society where the youth can be portrayed as grim generation. As rugby players, we have a massive responsibility to be great ambassadors of the game.
“I’m very passionate about public speaking and motivational talks, so it’s always lovely to share a message of hope. I recently had a chat at a primary school in Missionvale through a great initiative called Be The Difference Foundation. It was really great spending time with these youngsters, and most times, I learn more from these young kids than what they learn from me. It’s truly humbling to work with the youth.”
Schroeder, meanwhile, was not included in the Kings squad for Saturday’s clash against the Jaguares (17:15 kick-off).
15 Chrysander Botha, 14 Makazole Mapimpi, 13 Berton Klaasen, 12 Waylon Murray, 11 Malcolm Jaer, 10 Lionel Cronje, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Ruan Lerm, 7 Stefan Willemse, 6 Andisa Ntsila, 5 Mzwanele Zito, 4 Irne Herbst, 3 Ross Geldenhuys, 2 Michael Willemse, 1 Schalk Ferreira (captain)
Substitutes: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Schalk van der Merwe, 18 Chris Heiberg, 19 Tyler Paul, 20 Chris Cloete, 21 Rudi van Rooyen, 22 Masixole 'Coyi' Banda, 23 Luzuko Vulindlu
15 Joaquín Tuculet, 14 Matías Orlando, 13 Matías Moroni, 12 Jerónimo de la Fuente, 11 Santiago Cordero, 10 Joaquín Díaz Bonilla, 9 Gonzalo Bertranou, 8 Leonardo Senatore, 7 Pablo Matera, 6 Tomás Lezana, 5 Matías Alemanno, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Felipe Arregui, 2 Agustín Creevy (captain), 1 Lucas Noguera Paz
Substitutes: 16 Julián Montoya, 17 Santiago García Botta, 18 Cristian Bartoloni, 19 Marcos Kremer, 20 Rodrigo Báez, 21 Felipe Ezcurra, 22 Santiago González Iglesias, 23 Ramiro Moyano
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