Although he is looking forward to this year’s FNB Varsity Cup, FNB Maties coach Kabamba Floors says it remains a challenge to try and get the team back to the top as champions. They last won the title in 2019.
“In terms of university sports, it is the biggest competition out there. As a coach, your success gets measured by trying to take your team all the way. And that is why we see winning last year's Western Province Super League A competition as a stepping stone to achieving greater things with this group of players that we have assembled. It was a great opportunity for developing players.”
Managing the team with the movement of players in and out of the system for various reasons also is a factor, says Floors.
“Remember we lost quite a few players with Jurie Mathee (flyhalf), Thomas Bursey (scrumhalf), and Simon Miller (flank) at the Stormers and Western Province. Waqar Solaan (centre) is at Griquas, while Juan Beukes (lock) has made the move to Ireland (Dublin University).
“We managed to gain some experience by signing a few more experienced players, like Juan Mostert (flyhalf) from the Bulls and Ryan Manuel (centre) from the Sharks, and two more post-grad students from other universities.”
According to Floors a lot of boxes were ticked in Maties’ warmup match against 2023 Boland Grand Challenge champions Safcol United.
“A lot of our attacking plays came off, and our defence was good, although we conceded the three tries against the run of play. We played the game in the right areas of the field in terms of our decision-making. It was also a great opportunity for us to work on some of the combinations and see how they fit together in a game situation.”
Maties take on defending champions FNB NWU Eagles on Monday 19 February at the Danie Craven Stadium in Stellenbosch in their opening encounter of the 2024 competition.
Provinsial squad (subject to change):
Janlu Basson, Prince Mulea, Mohammed Adams, Barend Joubert, Ammaar Burton, Arno Gustafson, Vernon Matongo, Corne Weilbach, Willem Van Den Hever, Siya Ngubelanga, Dimpho Letloenyane, Francios Breytenbach, CJ Erasmus, Thys Kitshoff, Edrich Viljoen, Slabbert Maartens, Matthew Gray, Luan Botha, Zuko Posma, Eric Basson, Roland Van Den Heever, Matthew Cordy, Tjaart Joubert, Fortune Mpofu, DeWet Marais, Louw Nel, Josh Hannekom, Ethan Snyman, Ezekiel Ngobeni, Mckyle Vraagom, Milano Waterboer, Dempers Meyer, Juan Mostert, Cade Croy, MC Van Heerden-Smith, Eldridge Jack, Aydon Topley, Grant De Jager, Brendan Venter, CJ Marx, Ryan Manual, Ethan Regue, Jean-Marc Trichard, Matthew Van Schalkwyk, Paschal Ekeji, Brett Arnolds, Maselino Poee, Siwe Bowe, LJ Du Preez, Meyr Retief, Leighton Cloete.
by Francois de Wet