Given what happened to us, I don't think we competed too badly
Pote Human will bid Kimberley farewell after three years, but he hopes to leave Griquas with the perfect parting gift.
The 53-year-old Human has promised to ensure Griquas retain their Currie Cup (Premier Division) status when they travel to Nelspruit for the second encounter with the Pumas in a two-match promotion-relegation series.
Human will part ways with the Kimberley side after Friday's outing to take charge of the University of Pretoria.
Griquas won the first match, in Kimberley last Friday, 21-19 and need to beat the Pumas in the return leg, secure a draw or earn two bonus points to retain their Currie Cup status.
The former Blue Bulls coach has been in charge of Griquas since 2011, taking them close to qualifying for the Currie Cup semifinals last year, but things have been much tougher in Kimberley this year - with a succession of injuries having forced them into this desperate fight for survival.
Human, speaking to this website ahead of Friday's trip to the Lowveld, admitted it is all a bit "emotional".
"I have had a very enjoyable time here [in Kimberley]," he said, adding: "I had three Currie Cup seasons. You become attached to the people and you become attached to the players."
He made no secret of his desire to finish it on a high.
"I want to ensure we get a great win that keeps Griquas in the Premier Division," Human told this website.
He said there had been many highs and lows in the last three years, with this year's high injury count among the many disappointments.
This situation is epitomised by the absence of a host of second row forwards throughout the season - forcing him to recruit from the club ranks in both Cape Town and Potchefstroom.
As it is, stalwart Jaco Nepgen has been ruled out of Friday's game with knee ligament damage.
Springbok Hilton Lobberts (fractured arm) heads the list of locks ruled out at various stages this season. Add to that Victor Kruger (on loan for the Potchefstroom University, leg fracture), Jonathan Adendorff, who is lucky to be alive after being attacked by muggers after a game, and stalwart Rynhardt Landman, who suffered a fractured thumb.
Aussie import Rory Arnold also missed a week, after being accused of biting, only to be cleared and his ban to be lifted a week later.
"Given what happened to us, I don't think we competed too badly," he said of their Currie Cup campaign - which saw them score a losing bonus point, for finishing within seven points, in six of their nine defeats.
He said that his biggest disappointment was the Vodacom Cup Final last year.
"We felt we were the better team on the day, but ended up losing the match in the final minute," Human said of a controversial try by Rohan Kitshoff and a conversion by Demetri Catrakilis that gifted Western Province a 20-18 win.
"There's been a few highlights, but I must say that our [32-30] win in the Shark Tank [Durban, in Week One] was definitely one of my highlights," he said.
Human said that only after the game on Friday will he start focussing on the future - which means coaching the University of Pretoria in the Varsity Cup next year.
"Tukkies [UP] have won the Varsity Cup the last two years and one of my goals will be to make it a hat-trick," Human told this website.
"It won't be easy, as the other universities are catching up fast.
"However, to work with young players will be a new challenge."
Human, who will only be involved at Tukkies, said that to coach provincial rugby will always be a goal.
"I have really enjoyed it and it is the ultimate for coaches in South Africa to be involved in the Currie Cup [competition].
"I would like to be involved again in the future, but that is not in my hands. If I do well at Tukkies, perhaps some doors will open for me in future."
By Jan de Koning