FNB Wits have had an incredible start to their 2020 FNB Varsity Cup campaign, which is everything and more new captain Justin Brandon could have asked for.
Brandon has lead the Witsies to wins in their opening two encounters, including a first ever win over FNB UJ in the competition, indicating a smooth handover from the legendary Constant Beckerling – who remains a big influence in the pack.
Brandon, who attended Hoërskool Monument in Krugersdorp, is currently in his fourth year doing a Bachelor of Science in Property Studies. The 22-year-old hooker has also been in the Varsity Cup set-up throughout meaning he was an ideal candidate to succeed Beckerling.
“It’s been an easy transition due to the fact that I've been part of the leadership team for a few years. My relationship with Constant is also a good one… we’ve known each other for some time now and he still plays a big role in the leadership of the group. Its comforting to have someone like Constant by your side with all his experience,” Brandon tells varsitycup.co.za.
Brandon, who played for the Golden Lions through the junior ranks up until Under-21 level, is careful when discussing the differences between last year’s Wits squad – which finished sixth – and the Class of 2020 who are currently in joint-second on the log.
“Its difficult to compare the two as we have a lot of new faces in youngsters and new players in our group. I would say a big difference of this team is that we play for each other and that every player buys in on what we want to do and achieve. We’re a band of brothers united in a common goal,” Brandon reveals.
FNB Wits are a team who are looking to flip the script and cause a few more upsets this season, with their performances so far currently aligned with their goals.
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“We have a team that is capable of going all the way and all our systems are in place to be able to do so. So we are aiming at lifting that trophy at the end of the season.”
The FNB Wits skipper also acknowledges that his side aren’t perfect but they want to look to perfect their craft, especially looking back at their game against FNB UJ.
“I think we need to just to cut down on our mistakes and keep to our system. We have been building pressure and they had to give in. It was just for us to keep patient and to stick to what we were doing.”
The victory over UJ was one that also left the Witsies in great spirits and it truly meant a lot to the team.
“I think the win over UJ meant a lot to the team mentally, it just confirmed to us that we can beat them if we set our minds to it. I think it will encourage the other teams that it is possible to start rewriting the history books,” Brandon adds.
Brandon concludes by giving out a little word of advice and what it takes to players that one day may wish to follow in his footsteps in playing FNB Varsity Cup rugby.
“You just need to work hard and enjoy your rugby, there is no competition out there with the same level of exposure. With the added fact that some of South Africa’s best rugby gets played here.”
FNB Wits will next enjoy a well deserved bye week, which will see them not resting on their laurels but preparing hard for their next match up against FNB NWU at the Wits Rugby Stadium on Monday, 24 February.