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Confidence and conditioning key for WSU

Conditioning has been at the centre of FNB WSU’s fitness regimen in preparation for the 2024 FNB Varsity Shield Competition.

Head coach Thembani Mkhokheli, who took up the top job at the beginning of last season, says despite losing key players, the spirit amongst the team remains high thanks to a handful of decent warm-up games.


“So far preparations are going pretty well. Obviously, you lose a couple of players due to them graduating, but we still have a really nice core of our squad of 2023, though a lot of work still needs to be done.”


Also critical to the squad’s preparations has been the clarification of roles and responsibilities for each player’s position, and the subsequent building of confidence.


Mkhokheli says the warm-up games against NMU, Berlin Tigers, UFH and the Border Bulldogs over the last couple of weeks have played an integral part in helping the squad implement its strategies and tactics in real-match scenarios.


“We have to make sure everyone is clear and confident about their role when it comes to our attack and defensive play. We’re very lucky to have quite a few players who played for the Border Under 21 squad last year. This is a testament to a team talented enough to go far in this year’s competition.”


This year marks Mkhokheli’s seventh year in coaching circles. He made his debut in 2017 following his appointment as Border Under 20 head coach. Another opportunity would come knocking as he was roped in to be a part of the SA Rugby Academy defensive coaching staff. In 2018 he moved from the junior ranks to the senior ranks when he became Border’s assistant coach, a position still holds.


As a player, Mkhokheli represented the SA Emerging Sevens team in 2005 and played over 100 games for the Border Bulldogs senior team as a fly-half and fullback.


WSU start their 2024 Varsity Shield campaign with a match at home against FNB UKZN on Thursday 22 February at the Sisa Dukashe Stadium. 


PROVISIONAL SQUAD LIST (Subject to change)


Yandisa Mahobe, Sinethemba Zwelonke, Regiano Buis, Lwandile Nathi Majozi, Dayton Berndt, Ayabonga Spelt, Mangaliso Zixesha, Sibulele Manyube, Siphamandla Jaza, Yandisa Myokwana, Lutho Mampunye, Kamva Tetani, Axola Mtyali, Azasakhe Puwani, Esethu Zenani, Khanya Solani, Kwazi Ngwaqa, Sandisiwe Mkwayimba, Pernell Mandes, Hlomla Payi, Sinethemba Buhlungu, Lizole Hebe, Asenam Mniki, Ethan Flucks, Simamkele Luphondo, Isiphe Mbini, Maxwell Klaasen, Sosulwe Mqonci, Qhayiya Makalima, Lilitha Nxanga, Hlumelo Zitha, Awonke Sondishe, Axola Mtalana, Bulelani Nondlwana, Beon Hartnick, Asisipho Jim, Anganathi Kiswa, Sikho Gaushe, Simosethu Capa, Simthembile Zozi, Zenande Mdledle, Malakhiwe Xolo, Lisolethu Valisi, Lukhangele Tshayi.


By Thando Cezula

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