Liebenberg feels the newby pressure

Thu, 26 Jan 2017 14:32
Large tiaan liebenberg bowling 800

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: New CUT-Ixias coach, former Springbok hooker Tiaan Liebenberg, is feeling the pressure of being a first-time coach in the Varsity Cup competition. Tauriq Ebrahim reports.

Liebenberg takes over from Skillie Bester - who returns to his management role - and knows full well about the success of the two previous first-time winners. Something he feels places a lot of pressure on his shoulders.

"Franco Smith won it in his first year [Shimlas 2015] and Johnathan Mokuena won it in his first year [NWU-Pukke 2016], so now it's my first year and hopefully I'm third in line. Their success places pressure on me," he joked.

"Skillie [Bester] is still involved with the team. I think things reached a point where it got a bit too much for him - having to be the coach and manager. So the experience he has in this competition is invaluable to our setup."

Liebenberg is no stranger to the Ixias setup, as it was Bester's right-hand man, Jan du Toit who made a gentlemen's agreement with the Springbok to assist them in coaching their forwards.

"I spoke to Jan du Toit, a rehab specialist and someone who coached with Skillie at the Ixias, to help me get fit again to play after a back operation. So we had a gentlemen's agreement that he would help me get fit and I would help him out by coaching his forwards.

"Since then, I get along very well with the players. It reached a point where the Ixias management was in a position to employ a full-time coach and I took up the chance after having a good chat with the necessary parties.

"I am privileged to be in a position where my first coaching job is in the Varsity Cup but along with that comes a great responsibility. I have some butterflies but am very excited about what is in store and the squad we have," he added.

His squad will be without the services of five key senior players who have made the step up to the next level, but with a few changes being implemented to the overall structures, Liebenberg feels things are heading in the right direction.

"I went to search for senior replacements with the same calibre [as the players I have lost] and I am very happy with those we have brought in. I have a nice senior squad and some young players. I always want to have a good mixture of senior and junior players coming through.

"I'm enjoying what I'm doing, we having a lot of fun and are trying to build something that can last for a long time. I feel that all the steps we have already taken will be a massive part of the success we have.

"We have changed some structures in the club, our recruiting structures and the culture of the team into something more of a professional setup. Obviously, we would love to get the results knowing that because of what we did [the changes], we are taking the club in the right direction.

"We know we have a fresh squad, we know it's my first rodeo but we are chasing success. It may not be winning the competition, it may be just winning a few more games than last season but for me as a coach, if I can develop players for the greater good of rugby in South Africa then that is also a level of success," he stated.

By Tauriq Ebrahim
@Tauriq365
@rugby365com

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FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Sat, 27 May 2017
Sunwolves v Cheetahs 05h15 Tokyo
Highlanders v Waratahs 07h35 Dunedin
Rebels v Crusaders 09h45 Melbourne
Bulls v Hurricanes 13h05 Loftus Versfeld
Wasps v Exeter Chiefs 13h30 London
Sharks v Stormers 15h15 Kings Park
Munster v Scarlets 17h15 Dublin
Jaguares v Brumbies 21h40 Buenos Aires
Sun, 28 May 2017
Lions v Kings 12h30 Ellis Park Stadium
Wed, 31 May 2017
New Zealand U20 v Scotland U20 07h00 AIA Arena
England U20 v Samoa U20 07h00 Tbilisi
South Africa U20 v France U20 09h30 Tbilisi
Ireland U20 v Italy U20 09h30 AIA Arena
Argentina U20 v Georgia U20 12h00 Tbilisi
Australia U20 v Wales U20 14h30 Tbilisi
Fri, 02 June 2017
Blues v Reds 07h35 Auckland
RESULT SCORE
Fri, 26 May 2017
Reds v Force 26 | 40
Blues v Chiefs 16 | 16
Sun, 21 May 2017
Waratahs v Rebels 50 | 23
Sat, 20 May 2017
Kings v Brumbies 10 | 19
Munster v Ospreys 23 | 3
Wasps v Leicester Tigers 21 | 20
Lions v Bulls 51 | 14
Exeter Chiefs v Saracens 18 | 16
Sunwolves v Sharks 17 | 38
Force v Highlanders 6 | 55
Hurricanes v Cheetahs 61 | 7
Fri, 19 May 2017
Leinster v Scarlets 15 | 27
Stormers v Blues 30 | 22
Chiefs v Crusaders 24 | 31
Sat, 13 May 2017
Jaguares v Force 6 | 16
VARSITY CUP
MORE LOGS
Pool CUP
Team P W D L Pts
UP-Tuks 8 7 0 1 34
Maties 8 7 0 1 34
UJ 8 5 0 3 25
Shimlas 8 5 0 3 23
Wits 8 4 0 4 21
NWU-Pukke 8 4 0 4 19
NMMU-Madibaz 8 2 0 6 11
UCT-Ikeys 8 2 0 6 9
CUT-Ixias 8 0 0 8 3
Pool SHIELD
Team P W D L Pts
UWC 6 5 0 1 27
Fort Hare 6 4 0 2 20
UKZN-Impi 6 4 0 2 20
WSU 6 3 0 3 14
CPUT 6 2 0 4 10
TUT 6 2 0 4 9
Rhodes 6 1 0 5 6