Defending champions FNB NWU Eagles are looking to play an attractive brand of rugby while maintaining a winning culture in the 2024 FNB Varsity Cup competition. Head coach Burger van der Westhuizen says they are tackling this year with the same attitude that saw them lift the trophy last year.
"If you had a successful campaign, you want to continue using the same approach and keep using the same things that worked for you.”
Despite the departure of several experienced players, he however has confidence in the newbies.
“We had about 33 players and lost 21. Luckily for us, there are still some experienced players left in the squad so we’re looking at a brand new team, a brand new philosophy, and a brand new culture and the guys are working hard to achieve our objectives.”
Despite being the reigning champions, Van der Westhuizen says the team doesn’t feel any additional pressure.
“It’s now 2024 and last year was 2023, so whatever happened last year was very good but this is a new group of players who are really hungry to go out there and perform. We obviously want to compete and be in the semi-final and final so the best thing is to keep the pressure thing away from the players.”
The Eagles play more away games this campaign and according to Van der Westhuizen there needs to be adjustments in preparations to handle fatigue and travel issues.
“We are only playing three games at home, so during our preparation all our practice games were away so we can get the guys to understand the principle of travelling, sleeping enough, and eating correctly. We lose a couple of training sessions when we play in the Western Cape because of travelling so going there is an immense thing. Therefore we need to be very clever and wise to combat fatigue.”
NWU open their title defence on Monday 19 February against FNB Maties at the Danie Craven Stadium in Stellenbosch.
PROVISIONAL SQUAD LIST (subject to change)
Andries du Preez, Aphelele Madaka, Arminn Posthumus, Calcin Clack, Charles Williams, Christiaan Vlok, Chyle van Zyl, Didi Sekati, Divan du Toit, Franco Marais, Gerhard Ackerman, Hanro Venter, Heinz Bertram, Hennie du Randt, Herman Agenbag, Jaco du Toit, Jason Jansen, Joubert Schoeman, Keano Windvogel, Lloyd Ngobeni, Logan Janeke, Luan van der Walt, Lukas Klopper, Marvelous Mashimbyi, Matome Manyama, Matthew Fortuin, Michael Peiterse, Mpho Khubeka, Naiden Jaarts, Nico Liversage, Ntobeko Shezi, Schalk van Schalkwyk, Isrome Phatudi, Sean Roulston, Shaun Baxter, Tiaan Hechter, Tian van Zyl, Zinedine Robinson, Stephan Krugel.
by Lesiba Dikhoba