FNB Wits fullback Daniel Kasende is the latest FNB Varsity Cup star to turn pro after his move to Griquas was confirmed.
Having recently turned 25, Kasende was in his final year of Varsity Cup eligibility anyway but securing his immediate rugby future (despite the uncertainty of Coronavirus) has understandably got the BA Geography student excited.
“I was very happy with the news and I was glad that [a provincial contract] came through," Kasende told Wits Sport Media.
As with previous seasons (since debuting in 2017), Kasende had been a key figure in Wits' excellent start to the 2020 season, which saw them sitting third on the log before the season was suspended due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Apart from being ever-present at fullback, Kasende claimed the Steers Kinging Moment award in Wits’ first ever Varsity Cup win over FNB UJ (7-6) in Round 2 before dotting down in the narrow Round 4 victory over FNB NWU (27-24).
"I always knew that there would come a time for me to part ways with Wits Rugby, and I had always hoped that when that time came, it would come with the opportunity of playing at an even higher level.”
It goes without saying that the relaxed town of Kimberley will be a far cry from the bustling city of Johannesburg which Kasende has called home since he and his family arrived in South Africa from his birthplace of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo.
"As it is a new adventure and a new environment, I look forward to the challenges that come with it like having to relocate and starting out afresh somewhere different.
"I look forward to proving myself and earning the trust of my new teammates and coaches, both on and off the field."
Wits coach Hugo van As has been in charge throughout Kasende's spell at the university, and has no doubt that his backline star will have the goods for the next step in his career.
“Obviously, when he joined us a young man, Daniel had ample talent and I think his biggest asset was his pace and his acceleration. But he had a long way to go and worked hard on his game. I truly believe he’s got amazing talent and has what it takes to cut it as a Currie Cup or provincial player.”
Van As also laid down a challenge to Kasende, who will be able to compare notes with almost a third of the Griquas squad who are also Varsity Cup alumni.
“Becoming a [Varsity Cup] player is one thing but becoming a good Test or provincial player is the challenge. I would encourage him to keep on working hard; he has to understand that it will be a little bit quicker and he will have a little less time to make decisions at that level … We want to encourage him to keep his feet on the ground and to stay the humble man that he has been.”
PLAYER PROFILE Dan Kasende
Full name: Daniel Bin Kasende Kapepula
Born: 9/5/1995 in Kinshasa, DR Congo
Nickname: The Fijian
Studying: BA Geography (3rd Year)