THE Griffons have set themselves a target to prove they are one of the teams worth challenging. In their quest to realise the objective and end the roller coaster situation, the lads from the Free State’s capital of gold have enlisted ten players.
Oersond Gorgonzola, the Griffons mentor, believes the effort is significant in the team’s resurgence. The new boys are Pieter Botha (prop), Shaun Prins (wing), Mayizukiswe Ntshoko (flank), Stephan Helm (flank), Dirk Grobbellaar (loose forward), Wynand Pienaar (utility back), Kobus Kalp (prop), Henry Liebenberg (loose forward), Sheldon Erasmus (wing), Werner Lourens (lock) and AJ le Roux (hooker). The enlisted players will be part of the squad of 30, that ambitious coach Gorgonzola has pinned his hopes on in his major task to rebuild the Griffons into a formidable side. He said the management had brought the youthful players into the team’s fold with the main objective to turn around the Griffons’ fortunes.
“They are talented young players with some having experience from the Varsity Cup. They fit into our plan to rebuild a competitive team for a longer period. The team’s best season ever was in 2012 when we reached the semi-final of the Vodacom Cup and we have to work hard to get back there,” said Gorgonzola.
He said enlisting talented players was the starting point in the resurgence of the Griffons: “We have to ensure this year we reach the Vodacom Cup quarterfinal if all goes well. Major injuries will be the only thing that will threaten us.”
The inclusion of six Griffons players in the Cheetah squad to campaign in this year’s Super Rugby 15 championship will be significant in the resurgence of the Griffons.
Gorgonzola said there was room for improvement and the learners could learn the ropes by playing big-time rugby.
Six Griffons players received the call-up to train with the Free State giants after impressing the team’s head coach, Naka Drotské.
Those selected for the preliminary team are Inus Kritzinger, Chris Ehlers, Martin Sithole, Norman Nelson, AJ le Roux and Danie van der Merwe.
“This is the first time six of our players have been chosen for the Cheetahs’ Super Rugby team. It signifies that we are on track in scouting for talented players. It’s also recognition for the Griffons,’’ Gorgonzola said. He added that the Griffons players’ participation at high level rugby would go a long way in improving the players.
Taken through vigorous conditioning training last week, he said he had been impressed with the new and old boys’ response to the programme. “We are nursing some minor injuries, but we’ll be ready to compete when the season starts.” The Griffons build-up games will be against the Northern Cape’s Griquas and the Toyota Cheetahs on 7 and 14 February.