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FNB NWU Eagles wing targets big finish

FNB Varsity Cup

FNB NWU Eagles wing Pienaar van Niekerk reflects on a rollercoaster campaign, his first FNB Player That Rocks accolade and his team's frame of mind heading into the final stages of the competition.

The Eagles are currently sixth on the 2022 FNB Varsity Cup log, having won four and lost three games. Van Niekerk is hoping for more consistency from his team in the final two rounds.

'It feels like a rollercoaster campaign because we have won against two of the biggest teams in Shimlas and Tuks, and then we have also been on the receiving end of upsets,' says Van Niekerk.

'Upsets make the competition interesting, but not for us. We had hoped for more consistency from the team.'

Van Niekerk (23) has been part of the FNB NWU side since 2019 and is one of the most experienced players in the current squad.

'There were about nine players aged 24 and older when I started,' he says. 'The current group is much younger, easily the youngest group I've been a part of.

'It's understandable that all the experience isn’t there, but it hasn’t gone too badly considering the average age of the squad.

‘The first three games of our campaign didn't go as planned. We lost against UCT after conceding in the last minute and we also had a disastrous second half against UJ.

‘As a team, we’ve had our lows and highs during the campaign. One of our lows was losing to Maties because we always want to win against them at the Danie Craven Stadium.

'The team was really down after that defeat but we managed to pick ourselves up and got a big win against the Madibaz. The win against Tuks is definitely up there as one of our highs because they’re the defending champions.

'Personally, the Player That Rocks accolade meant more to me because it was my first and I was injured weeks before.’

The FNB NWU Eagles need to win both of their remaining matches to have any chance of qualifying for the playoffs.

'We have everything it takes to go to the semis. and I feel like the team is now peaking,' says Van Niekerk.

Interview by Lesiba Dikhoba

Photo: Christiaan Kotze/ASEM Engage


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