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NORTHWOOD

‘This derby is certainly a highlight for the Durban North community’

“WE’VE certainly won the week with regards to our preparation,” says Northwood first XV head coach Torsten Sorensen.  “The boys have really been exceptional. The fact that we never got to play Michaelhouse last weekend (a lightning warning forced the match to be abandoned before kick-off) has given the boys renewed energy and focus.”

The preparations Torsten refers to were towards getting on the front foot from the kick-off in the once-a-year Durban North derby against Clifton, which kicks off at 1.10pm on Riverside Sports Club’s premier rugby paddock.

‘There’s a healthy rivalry due to our proximity… the boys know each other well’

“We have struggled this season with a number of  injuries to key players along the road but have been very focused on the area of rehabilitation.

All Blacks assistant coach Wayne Smith (left) with Northwood 1st XV head coach Torsten Sorensen.

“Our team medical officer Richard Tyler and strength and conditioning head Simon Vickers have been outstanding in this regard and those injured players have followed a strict and rigorous process in order to return quickly but, more important, safely.

“We have our 8th man Ranger Mfakadolo (featured image) back from a 2-week injury layoff as well as our winger Lina Majola. Both add tremendous value. We have sadly lost our loosehead prop Aston Sparks to a concussion two weeks ago.”

This is Torsten’s first derby as head coach. The rugby man through and through that is Torsten-Erik Sorensen (of Danish heritage) was assistant to Grant Bashford in 2016 and Dick Muir in 2017.

‘We will certainly not go into this game complacent’
“This derby is certainly a highlight for the Durban North community and the crowds arrive for an action-packed day around the rugby field and hockey Astro.

Intensity & focus will be among the watchwords for Clifton College first XV captain Josh Brown and team today.

“There has been a lot of talk by the players of both teams this week and it’s been healthy banter. I don’t think the boys make this a bigger game than any other but there’s certainly a really healthy rivalry due to our proximity and the fact that the boys know each other well and in some cases are good friends.”
Torsten played in Wales and represented North Wales vs New Zealand U21s in 2002. A lower back injury ended his playing career in the land that has produced so many legends – Barry John, Phil Bennett, Gareth Edwards, JPR Williams, Mervyn Davies and so many more…
‘This derby is certainly a highlight for the Durban North community’

Clifton College first XV inside centre & headboy Jack Koch will be looking to create space in the derby at Riverside today.

For a man so passionate about the sport, coaching was clearly the next avenue, the journey taking him to Westville Boys’ High in 2006 – where he stayed until 2015. The Great Dane coached the Westville 1st XV in the years 2012 to 2014. The move to Northwood came in 2016, as an assistant to Bashy (Grant Bashford) then Dick Muir.

“I was appointed head coach by Dick when he left to join the Sharks last year.”

So what type of rugger do Northwood like to play?

“Our brand is high tempo and skillful. We are very fortunate to have Grant Bashford as our director of coaching. His vast experience at Super Rugby level as well as his great relationships with many of rugby’s top current coaches around the globe have allowed us to be at the cutting edge of the modern game.

“From our training regime, to our conditioning and patterns of play we are very up to date with what many of the top New Zealand franchises are doing. Just this week we were rubbing shoulders with the Chiefs coaches and conditioning staff and this reinforced our belief that what we are doing is right.”

‘We can expect a well-coached Clifton team’

When it comes to today’s opponents, is it clear that the Northwood head coach has much respect for the school.

“I admire the Clifton ethos and the culture of individual excellence that they drive. Their boys are always extremely well mannered and proud of their school. They have a very experienced coaching staff, many of whom I’ve worked with in the past. “(Clifton head coach) Ross (Saayman) has lots of experience and has been with Clifton for many years now.”

Clifton College director of rugby Grant Bell (left) and first XV head coach Ross Saayman are held in high respect.

“I’ve worked under their current director of rugby Grant Bell whilst at Westville Boys… Grant is an astute, experienced coach with a tremendous rugby brain. We certainly will not go into this game complacent. We can expect a well-coached team.”Thanks for your time, Torsten – the much-appreciated insight into Northwood’s prep for today’s derby as well as the respect you have for Clifton.

KZN10.com wishes Northwood and Clifton all the best for today’s Durban North derby.

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