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

There are currently no matches being played
Fri, 23 March 2018
Connacht v Edinburgh 22h00 Sportsground
Munster v Scarlets 22h00 Thomond Park
Dragons v Cheetahs 22h00 Rodney Parade
Ospreys v Leinster 22h00 Liberty Stadium
Cardiff Blues v Ulster 22h00 Cardiff Arms Park
Glasgow Warriors v Zebre 22h00 Scotstoun
Kings v Treviso 22h00 Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
Crusaders v Bulls 06h35 Christchurch
Rebels v Sharks 08h45 Melbourne
Bath v Exeter Chiefs 19h45 Recreation Ground
Sat, 24 March 2018
Sunwolves v Chiefs 04h15 Tokyo
Hurricanes v Highlanders 06h35 Wellington
Saracens v Harlequins 15h00 London
London Irish v Gloucester 15h00 Madejski Stadium
Sale Sharks v Worcester Warriors 15h00 AJ Bell Stadium
Stormers v Reds 15h15 Newlands
Newcastle Falcons v Northampton Saints 17h30 Kingston Park
Jaguares v Lions 21h40 Estadio Jose Amalfitani
Sun, 25 March 2018
Leicester Tigers v Wasps 15h00 Welford Road
Sun, 18 March 2018
Waratahs v Rebels 51 | 27
Sat, 17 March 2018
Jaguares v Reds 7 | 18
Wales v France 14 | 13
Lions v Sunwolves 40 | 38
England v Ireland 15 | 24
Stormers v Blues 37 | 20
Italy v Scotland 27 | 29
Brumbies v Sharks 24 | 17
Highlanders v Crusaders 25 | 17
Fri, 16 March 2018
Cardiff Blues v Treviso 31 | 25
Edinburgh v Munster 12 | 6
Chiefs v Bulls 41 | 28
Sun, 11 March 2018
Wales v Italy 38 | 14
Sat, 10 March 2018
Jaguares v Waratahs 38 | 28
France v England 22 | 16
Team P W D L Pts
Maties 7 6 1 0 31
NWU-Pukke 6 5 0 1 25
Wits 7 4 1 2 23
UJ 6 4 0 2 21
UCT-Ikeys 6 3 0 3 15
Shimlas 6 3 0 3 14
UP-Tuks 6 1 0 5 7
CUT-Ixias 6 1 0 5 6
NMMU-Madibaz 6 0 0 6 3