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Mentz takes the reins at Pumas

Mpumalanga Rugby (PTY) Ltd has made a final decision with regards to their coaching staff for the first half of the year.

They proudly announced late last week that MJ Mentz will be the head coach for the duration of the 2015 Vodacom Cup series.
“The screening process for the appointment of a new coach for the Absa Currie Cup Premier league has already begun, but this doesn’t mean that MJ can’t hand in his CV too,” Pieter Burger, Managing Director of the MPU (PTY) Ltd said.

But, who is MJ Mentz really? One thing is for sure, MJ is a thoroughbred Puma, as he not only played for the Puma schools team way back in 2000 as matriculant of Ermelo High School, he also represented the province at the SA Schools tournament the same year.
He completed B.Com Accounting degree at the University of Potchefstroom where he played 43 games for the Leopards. Thereafter he was called up for duty in Kimberley at the GWK Griquas before he joined the Pumas again in 2009. In between he also formed part of the Blitzbokke for several years.

Mentz perceives himself as a family man, who wants to share his personal and Christian values with the team. He married his wife, Janine in 2008 and is a proud father of a two-year-old boy, Marco. “Before I continue, I want to thank God for trusting and giving me this opportunity. It’s only an honor to live out my sport dreams. One of our goals for this year will certainly be to respect each other, as a team and as individuals, with each playing our specific roles in the squad. In my marriage, we try to uphold these principles and I want to share this with the team and management. The secret to our success this year will certainly lie in our communication skills and a shared goal,” Mentz said.

Mentz said that the last two years coaching under the mentorship of Jimmy Stonehouse was a great stepping-stone in his coaching career.
The way Stonehouse maintained discipline in the squad was a huge encouragement and now Mentz wants to add his way to the existing system.
“I think myself and Jimmy shared the same goals and that is that small things in the sport do matter. Although players might think that the basic drills are boring, they do add to any player’s skill development. This appointment is a huge responsibility on my shoulders, but luckily I know I have the support of the team, which makes the job easier.”

MJ Mentz was appointed as head coach for the duration of the 2015 Vodacom Cup series.
MJ Mentz was appointed as head coach for the duration of the 2015 Vodacom Cup series.

“I feel my biggest aim will be to preserve the discipline levels Jimmy has set, but obviously with my and Corné’s ways carved into it.”
On the question of a three-year goal, Mentz said to be the official coach of the Currie Cup team is set in his sight.
“I think it’s an exciting era ahead of us. Taking in consideration that we have a very young coaching and management team, the changes of the last couple of months has been coming for a long while. It will have a positive influence in the future of the professional side of the union. The management team is dynamic and everyone is specialist in their field, just what an upcoming union like us need.”

“Obviously our short term goal is to win the Vodacom Cup series this year, but for myself I would like to create a new Puma culture in the group, based on Christian and true family values on and off the pitch. With this we want to play more exciting and quality rugby, which is not only crowd pleasing and entertaining, but will hopefully fill the stadium seats,” Mentz concluded.

The 2015 Vodacom squad looks like this, with the exception of Lambert Groenewald, who is a loan player from the Emirates Lions the squad are all contracted players for the Steval Pumas:
JW Bell – utility back, Bernado Botha – wing, Jaco Bouwer – loose forward, JJ Breet – loose forward, Uzair Cassiem – utility forward, Marius Coetzer – lock, Francois du Toit – hooker, Jason Colin Fraser – loose forward, Lambert Groenewald – loose forward (loan player), Johan Herbst – scrum half, Frank Herne – hooker, Ruwellyn Isbell – wing, Marco Kruger – utility forward, Wilmaure Louw – utility back, Hoffman Maritz – centre,
Rudi Mathee – lock, Jacques Momberg – hooker, Khwezi Mona – prop, Sabelo Nhlapo – prop, Sinovuyo Nyoka – scrum half, Dewald Pretorius – centre, JC Roos – fly half, Marcello Sampson – wing, Marnus Schoeman – loose forward, Brian Shabangu – loose forward, Pule Sibiya – wing, Hennie Skorbinski – utility forward, Frikkie Spies – lock, Jannie Stander – lock, Heinrich Steyl – utility back, De-Jay Terblanché – prop, Drew van Coller – prop, Eduan van der Walt – utility forward, Reynier van Rooyen – scrum half, Justin van Staden – fly half and Simon Westraadt – hooker.

The Pumas will be playing their first warm-up match on Thursday, February 5 at the Technical High School against the Cell C Community Cup contenders, Shumba Ferros.
Kick-off is at 18:30.

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