Booi handed the reins for EP Elephants
Buoyant EP Rugby Union president Andre Rademan has challenged his new-look EP Elephants squad to charge all the way into the final of the SuperSport Rugby Challenge competition.
Rademan’s confidence stems from the appointment of new head coach Chumani Booi and the availability of Southern Kings Pro14 players, Madibaz Varsity Cup members and top club players to bolster the side.
The Elephants backroom staff has also been beefed up and former Springbok Thando Manana will manage the team.
Last year the Elephants endured a miserable season in both the SuperSport Challenge and the Currie Cup when they were forced to use mainly club players.
“It was not a good season last year and we accept that. The executive takes full responsibility for that and there was a reason we performed badly. Now we have made big changes and we have turned the corner. This will be a totally different team,” said Rademan.
“We had to address the financial battle at the union before we could start winning on the field. I believe we can reach the final of the SuperSport Rugby Challenge.
“It will be hard, but with the coaching staff and players we have it is possible.
“There is so much talent in this province and we will tap into the talent available in club rugby. If we can blend the Pro14 and the best club players, who knows what lays ahead for EP. We are all excited about the road ahead.
“Booi’s appointment is a reminder that we need not look too far for quality rugby personnel, because we have our own home-grown experts right here in the Eastern Cape.
“We look forward to his contribution in ensuring that the Elephants once again reach great heights and become a highly competitive team in South African rugby.
“We are grateful for the Kings in working with us to ensure that Booi makes the transition from the franchise to the Elephants smoothly despite the franchise’s own preparations for the Pro14 campaign.”
Booi, an assistant coach at the Southern Kings, said the Elephants would be taking one game at a time.
“We are excited about the season and there will be a lot of players coming from Pro14,” said Booi.
“EP have followed a process with the club players and we had trials. Out of those trials we have been able to pick a squad of 38 players.
“We aim to improve on last year’s results and with the players at our disposal we think we can achieve that.
“We will be basically taking it one game at a time. We have a training match on Thursday against the Pro14 non-playing squad and next week we are playing South Western Districts in a warm-up match.
“Being named coach of EP is a big privilege and honour for me and I am looking forward to it. After being an assistant coach in the Pro14 I have been given the opportunity to be a head coach. This will give me exposure and growth and it is an exciting challenge for me.”
The management team:
Head coach: Booi; Forwards coach: Sivuyile Kobokana; Backline coach: Garrin August; Conditioning coach: Denzil van Heerden; Doctor (to be decided); Physio: Yale Jameson; Video analyst: Mark Specman; Manager: Manana...