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Defending champs desperate for bonus-point win

FNB Varsity Cup

FNB UP-Tuks head coach Nico Luus speaks about his team's approach and mindset ahead of the do-or-die clash with FNB UJ on Monday night.

FNB UP-Tuks sit in fourth place on the log with one round to play. Why do you find yourselves in this position? It’s been an up and down season. We have let ourselves down at times, and that’s why we find ourselves at fourth on the log. We haven't been consistent enough.

How have injuries impacted your campaign? Ethan Burger got injured on Friday at gym before we went to play against Shimlas, so we were forced to make the change. Dian Schoonees came back from concussion a week before, and he did not play against Wits. That is why he started from the bench against Shimlas. Francois Klopper did not play the first three games and from there he played every minute. He is one of the best in South African rugby, and I think you don’t usually get a player like that, there are a lot of opportunities for him. You need a player like him, he is consistent, and he adds great value to the team. Injuries do ruin your plans, but you need to work with what you have.

You've been forced to make a lot of changes in the backline this season. How do you think the backs have fared? I think [flyhalf] Walter Visser played well against Wits. He has been great all round and his runs have been good. Clyde Lewis and Kabelo Mokoena have played a lot of rugby for us. When 'Bok' [fullback Stephan Coetzee] got suspended we needed someone who was more experienced at fullback, and used Clyde and Kabelo there. Kabelo is usually a wing, so I've pushed him back into that position.

Your thoughts on the captain Lincoln Daniels, who joined FNB UP-Tuks at the start of the season? He is a special player. I hope he goes a long way with his rugby career.

You're playing against FNB UJ on Monday, a much-hyped team coming off a big win. What are your thoughts ahead of that clash? We need to win on Monday night. If we don’t we are out of the competition. UJ have a good coach in Jonathan Mokuena and they have the momentum. It will be a difficult team to beat.

Are you concerned about their speed? No. We need to do what we need to do, which is play for 80 minutes. I am comfortable with our game plan. There will be small battles for our backs throughout the game but we are going there to win.

Are you still confident that you can defend your FNB Varsity Cup title? Definitely. We just need to win on Monday night and then we can look further because if we don’t, we are out. We will need a lot of concentration to win, and it would be better to win with a bonus point. We are not looking at any margins, we are looking at scoring four tries. It's in our hands. It's going to be difficult but we need to win this battle.

Interview by Lehlogonolo Ditshego


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