FNB Madibaz rugby coach David Manuel is placing a lot of emphasis on the type of legacy they want to leave after the 2024 FNB Varsity Shield competition.
The Nelson Mandela University squad open their campaign with an away game in Cape Town against FNB CPUT on Friday 23 February.
The team’s mentor, now in his third year with the university, says they “connected on a deep level” over the past three-and-a-half weeks during their training camp.
“That sort of positive vibe and cohesion is what you want as a coach. We’ve used the time to review our culture and the standards we want to set ourselves.”
He says this year’s theme is “lineage” as it represents where each player comes from and how it adds value to the squad.
“We want to honour the lineage of the players who have gone before us and work as a unit to leave the jersey in a better place.”
That said, the Varsity Shield will be an enormous challenge to the team from Gqeberha.
“We are quite aware now that every team will be better this year, and that means we also need to be better.”
Manuel mentions FNB UP-Tuks, who were relegated from the Varsity Cup last season, who will bring “a different physical challenge” to the party with their big forwards who seek to dominate up front.
“We have also tried to up our game in that department. To be competitive, we have to be able to match them.”
Manuel says they have been able to maintain some continuity in the 2024 squad, which will be captained by loose forward Leon van der Merwe. Several exciting players have also been brought into the setup. S’bulelo Roji, previously from Walter Sisulu University, comes in as a tighthead prop while Dewald Gerber, who played for Outeniqua High in George and South Western Districts schools, will slot in at lock. Then there is flyhalf Raashied Conrad, a product of SACS in Cape Town, who is renowned for his running and goal-kicking skills.
PROVISIONAL SQUAD (Subject to change)
lwaba Liyema, Elam Bobelo, Bahle Cengani, Bryce Sven Collins, Christopher Kachungunu, Dewald Gerber, Elton Xakile, Endinako Kuse, Enrique Franks, Henry Edward Kruger, Jade Baaitjies, Kehan Myburgh, Kyle Erasmus, Leon Van Der Merwe, Lwando Davane, Mekyle Solomon, MJ Strydom, Mpumelelo Solani Mavuso, Mugsin Banzi, Mvelo Fipaza, Mvuleni Imibongo, Mzwakhe Kevin Hlupheko, Qurin Cupido, Raashied Conrad, Reece Cambier, S'bulelo Roji, Siba Mqeni, Thando Nogayi, Tlhalefo Moleko, Troy Delport, Lyle Meintjies, Reese Masimla, Olwethu Sean Chigumbu, Anda Matshoba, Ethan Vitelinghum, Riaan Vraagom, Dewet Goddels.