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Getting to know FNB Wits forwards coach Sabelo Nhlapo

Updated: Mar 23, 2023

With a few new names added to their squad, FNB Wits is looking forward to improving on their fortunes for the 2023 Varsity Cup competition. This after finishing 7th on the log last with 4 wins and 5 losses last year.

Amongst the new members is forwards coach Sabelo Nhlapo, brought in to add a different approach to the pack for 2023.

Nhlapo has tasted success as a player, representing FNB UP-Tuks in the university’s Varsity Cup champions team in 2012 and 2013. He also played at U19 and U20 national levels before moving on to represent Boland and the Pumas. He retired in 2016.

Varsity Cup recently sat down with the new Wits forwards coach to talk all things rugby.

What made you switch from playing to coaching? Unfortunately, I got injured at pivotal times in my career and each time I got injured it took a bit of my confidence away with it. It however never took my love of the game away, but four surgeries later, I knew I wanted to stay in the game but in a different space, so I started coaching. How long have you been coaching? Six great years and counting. After retiring in 2016, I joined my Alma mater, Highlands North Boys High School as head coach in 2017. The coaching journey led me to Wanderers Rugby Club in 2018 where I stayed until 2022. I was also fortunate enough to be the forwards coach of the Lions' amateur team last year. How have you adapted to being a forwards coach? I've adapted quite well. The culture and the people at Wits made the transition smooth. I feel welcome and I love that I get to contribute to the institution. The talent that I get to work with really excites me as well, seeing the gents put in the work and me being able to help them get to the next level makes me happy. How did Varsity Cup impact your life as a player back then and now as a coach? The Varsity Cup reignited my passion for the game and reminded me why we started playing this game when I was a player. As a coach, it's given me an opportunity to give back and share. Some of the things I've been through might be able to help somebody else. What are you hoping to achieve with your current role? Growth. At the end of it all, I must have made a difference. Not just on the rugby side of things, but spiritually and mentally as well. That's what drives me. The ability to help somebody grow and the ability to learn so I am a better person.

By S’fiso Nyawo

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