Classy No.10 Demetri Catrakilis has been worth his weight in gold for the DHL Stormers with his brilliant goalkicking.
You took us all by surprise when you missed what appeared to be a fairly easy kick at posts against the Lions!
“I know I should be getting those, but irrespective of how confident you are, there will be a few misses along the way. You will miss from everywhere if you don’t strike the ball well.”
How do you manage to sustain your remarkable goalkicking success rate of about 90%?
“With a lot of practice! I train as much as I can and make sure I put in the right amount of work to be confident on game day. Every day in the build-up to a match is very important to me in terms of practising my kicking. Some weeks I’ll spend an hour per day and if I’m feeling in the zone, I’ll reduce the time. I also work on my kick-offs, drop kicks, out-of-hand kicking and passing, so a lot of time is spent on honing my individual skills.”
How do you stay focused with all the crowd noise when you’re lining up a kick at goal?
“It all goes back to preparation. If I didn’t prepare well and my confidence was low, I would feel that pressure. However, when my mind is settled, knowing that the kick will be the product of me having done all I could in terms of preparation, the pressure doesn’t get to me.”
So it’s more to do with hard work than a good temperament?
“I don’t think temperament comes without hard work. If you have temperament, you would have worked hard at some stage to gain that confidence to execute accurately.”
Did the appointment of Vlok Cilliers as kicking coach improve your all-round kicking game?
“Vlok has made a difference to us with his professionalism since his appointment last year. It’s been good working with him and having different drills at training.”
Your exploits in Absa Currie Cup Finals have made you a bit of a cult hero at DHL Newlands. What do you make of your relationship with The Faithful?
“I don’t know whether I’ll ever play in front of a better crowd than at DHL Newlands. It’s difficult to explain the special feeling I get from playing there. Sometimes, when I come off the field, I almost get butterflies from the applause. It’s really special and something I’ll cherish even after I’ve retired one day.”
Did you enjoy the reward of being called up to the Springbok training camps?
“I guess it’s a reward of sorts to be in that environment, but the real reward will come with wearing the green and gold. I’ll keep working hard towards that goal.”
Do you guys take a lot of pride in winning the South African Conference?
“Yes, we do, but we also realise the job is far from done. We started the year with one goal in mind and that is to be crowned overall winners.”
Have you had a word with your loose forwards about offering better protection after that blow you took against the Lions?
“They’ve done well all season! It was just unfortunate I got an accidental elbow to the temple. I wasn’t all there on the field afterwards. I actually did well in my cognitive tests immediately afterwards and there were no issues after the game. I enjoy defensive duties, but that tackle didn’t quite work out!”
Why do you think so few people gave the DHL Stormers a chance of being the top South African side?
“I don’t know. We had just won the Absa Currie Cup, which surely should have made us favourites to win the South African Conference. We’ve carried that momentum into Vodacom Super Rugby and have seen the results of boxing smart in matches. Perhaps the fact that we didn’t have a good campaign last year played a part in shaping people’s perceptions.”
Is there a flyhalf you have admired and wanted to emulate?
“Growing up, I admired Jonny Wilkinson, simply because he was good at everything. I’d like to get to that level one day.”
How do you spend your free time?
“I recently started taking golf quite seriously and I make an effort to play on our off day. It’s going pretty well!”
Are you aiming as well as when you’re kicking at posts?
“No, not even close!”
DHL Stormers Matchday Magazine