Kayser happy to share

2014-04-03 00:00

AFTER hanging up his rugby boots, former Sharks and Springboks centre Deon Kayser knew he would one day give back to the game that has meant so much to him.

Kayser, who played 13 Tests for the Boks, scoring six tries, has been coaching the Sharks’ Vodacom Cup side this year, having previously worked with the junior teams at the union.

“As a player, rugby is always in the blood,” Kayser said in an exclusive interview with The Witness in his office at King’s Park Stadium. “I knew from the start I’d end up being involved. In what capacity, I didn’t know. But now I’ve been working at the academy for seven years.

“I’ve been involved for a while now with the junior teams, and also with the Vodacom Cup side, and in 2010, I assisted with the senior team,” he said.

Kayser has seemingly taken to coaching like a duck to water having worked from the lower ranks within the union.

In his first year as the head coach for the Vodacom Cup side, the Sharks XV have had a storming start to the campaign, and have won all four of their games and sit at the top of the South Section with 17 points.

The likes of Fred Zeilinga, Tim Swiel and Tera Mtembu, who have been part of Kayser squad, have managed to make the step up to the senior squad, and have made an appearance in Super Rugby.

Players in Jake White’s Super Rugby squad like Heimar Williams and Ettiene van Tonder have also played in the Vodacom Cup to get some game time.

“Jake is a World Cup-winning coach and has good rugby knowledge, a good man manager. What Jake’s trying to do this year is trying to get the continuity going … We try to play a similar game [to the Super Rugby side] so that it becomes easier for players moving up and down. When he needs them, they’re ready and they can play any game plan,” the former Bok centre said.

Kayser’s work with the Sharks XV Vodacom Cup squad revolves around helping as many players be ready to make the step up to Super Rugby.

“We’re blessed with a good group of youngsters so the talent pool is there. So, for us is basically assisting them and guiding them and fast tracking them to a level where they can play at Super Rugby level,” Kayser told The Witness.

The experience of playing the Vodacom Cup is invaluable to the youngsters as the so called smaller unions play their best players in the competition, Kayser said.

The Uitenhage-born Kayser’s career began in Port Elizabeth where he started playing in the Currie Cup for the Eastern Province Mighty Elephants (now EP Kings) in 1997. The following year, he made his Super Rugby and Test debuts and his career rocketed from there.

He was also part of the Springbok squad that played at the 1999 World Cup in Wales.

Asked if he saw himself as the head coach for the senior Sharks team, or even the Springboks one day, modestly, Kayser said: “I’m very happy where I’m at the moment. My immediate plans are just to learn as much as possible.

“As a coach you always learn every day, as much as possible about the game, about players, about man management. For now and the next couple of years, I don’t see myself as a Springbok coach or a Super Rugby franchise. But, who knows? Maybe in the distant future.”

• lunga.biyela@witness.co.za

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