Dubai: New UAE rugby coach Roelof Kotze arrived in Dubai this week to begin preparing for the squad for Asian Games and Asian Five Nations participation.
The 46-year-old South African joins from the Sharks Academy in Durban and replaces Fiji’s Epeli Lagiloa, who resigned from his post in December citing family reasons.
Kotze’s first task is to return the XVs back to the Asian Five Nations first tier in April after their relegation from the top flight last year.
He will then take an all-Emirati sevens squad to the Asian Games in September.
“I don’t think it’s pressure so much. I think it is a challenge,” said Kotze, who held his first training session with the team on Friday. “It is going to be interesting working with different players. I think it’s a good time to be here to help with the process of integrating more Emiratis into the side as I find that very exciting.
“There is always a history of where I come from in developing players. I see it as an opportunity here where there is talent to be developed and players to be found that need to be developed to achieve the goals of the federation. So I saw it as an exciting challenge to coach the side.”
So what are his strengths? Kotze replied: “I would say I’m a very good coach as far as coaching the basics and getting the basics across to people. And that is what I perceive as the need here. That is what we are going to achieve. I will try and get the basics in place and then take it up step by step so we can be as good we can possibly be.”
But Kotze said he would need time to develop core skills before setting and achieving targets.
“The target is we want to see an improvement in the players, in their skill levels and conditioning levels, and see that we take the team forward from where it has been last year,” he said. “We haven’t realistically set targets to win tournaments but in the not too distant future we will get there. Obviously, I think to set the target, firstly I want to get the squad up first.”
Kotze is the third UAE rugby coach in six months. Duncan Hall quit the post in June after a year and a half in charge and Lagiloa was appointed in July but quit after just four months.
In August, Ian Bremner was also dismissed from his role as CEO, as part of a boardroom reshuffle at the UAE Rugby Federation.