FNB Madibaz are gearing up for a physical challenge when they tackle provincial rivals FNB WSU in Round 2 of the FNB Varsity Shield in Port Elizabeth on Friday.
The match is the second of an Eastern Cape Double Derby at Madibaz Stadium (which kick-starts FNB Varsity Shield's 10-year celebrations), with FNB UFH kicking off proceedings against FNB Rhodes at 17:00 – before the clash between two of the competition’s heavyweights at 19:00.
Both the Nelson Mandela University outfit and 'The All Blacks' are coming off opening round victories and the scene is set for an explosive showdown.
Madibaz captain Luvo Claassen, who claimed the FNB Player That Rocks award in their win against FNB UKZN last Friday, said they were delighted to pick up five points in that match but they realised there was still a long way to go.
“We know that Walter Sisulu are a very physical side and we will have to front up for that,” the 25-year Construction Management student said.
“It’s probably going to be one of the most physical games of the season and we are going to have to work very hard throughout the match. But our plan is always to focus on the things that we do well and to make sure we execute everything accurately.”
Having ended top of the log last season, the Madibaz skipper said he know they have a target on their backs this year.
“It will be a big test, but the guys are ready to take that on,” the East London-born flyhalf added.
“We all know that a promotion spot is up for grabs, so that adds some spice to the competition this year; but we are prepared to embrace that challenge and we know we have to keep working hard.”
Claassen said he was pleased with their performance last week, especially as it was their opening game.
“We were very happy with the result and the defence was good – we were able to put pressure in the right areas and were delighted to come away with the win.”
Personally he felt he had "a bit of a shaky start” but improved as the game went on.
“Although I received the award, it was all due to the team effort. It was a well-balanced display and the guys worked hard to play in the right areas. Our kicking game was accurate and we managed the game very well.”
Madibaz Sport rugby manager Ntsikelelo Ngcakana said they were thrilled with the support they received last week and were anticipating another full stadium this Friday.
“I personally think moving the games to Friday was a great move and we couldn’t have asked for anything better from our supporters,” Ngcakana said.
“This week will be huge for Nelson Mandela University and Eastern Cape rugby and we can’t wait to put on a great show.”
He said the team’s mandate was to “treat every game like a final”.
“We want to execute any opportunity that arises to make sure we get all the points we can. UKZN pushed us hard and we will take that win and now focus on the next task ahead of us.”
Entrance to Friday's Eastern Cape Double Derby at Madibaz Stadium is FREE, however the gates will be closed when the stadium is full so get there early to avoid missing out! Both matches will also be broadcast live on SuperSport 201, from 16:45.
Article courtesy of Madibaz Sport/Full Stop Communications