The Glendale Raptors host the Denver Highlanders at Infinity Park Saturday in a preseason warm-up game, while the Raptors DII team will travel south to take on the Colorado Springs Grizzlies.
“At the start of any new rugby season,” said Head Coach Andre Snyman, “a coach never knows how many players he’ll have — how many will return and how many new players will join the club. Well this year it’s one of those where Glendale has had quite a few new players join and a lot of the old experienced players retired.
“With new coaching staff and new structures, it may take time for everyone to be on the same page."
The preseason friendlies are typically an opportunity for coaches to finalize team patterns and see what works and what needs more work. It also helps with player combinations and team structures.
“Our training sessions have been going well to this point and now I’m eager to see the practice put to the test,” commented Snyman. “I’m impressed with the added input that my new forwards coach Robbie Dawe has brought to the table.
“Robbie joined us halfway through the fall season from the Denver Barbarians and his extensive playing experience as a forward has been translating effectively to our forwards in their preparations for the upcoming season,” said Snyman.
The Highlanders have always provided a competitive game for the Raptors and Glendale is expecting nothing less from their opponents this time. “The Highlanders play with strong, big forwards,” said Snyman, “and their backs can move the ball too which should keep our defense honest.”
Colorado Springs is expected to test the DII defense at every opportunity and will no doubt attempt to capitalize on any mistakes made by the visitors.
Mike Doran will captain the DII team in their first league game of the season and Snyman is confident that the good balance between old and new players will provide the depth that the DII team will need to draw from.
“I am hoping that the more experienced players will aid and guide the rookies,” commented Snyman.
“We’re going to focus on team plays and structures in the DI game,” said Snyman, “and the Highlanders will be a good measurement for us to show us where we need to improve.
“I’m expecting fitness to be a concern with the DII game especially since it’s the first game of the season but am hoping the players give it their all regardless,” added Snyman.
The fall season promises to be an exciting one for Glendale and the training sessions have been well attended. Coach Snyman is excited about the talented players he has at his disposal and coupled with the loyal supporters, Snyman is confident that he has the ingredients for a winning formula.