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Mzakhe Hlupheko excels in the team environment at Madibaz

After quitting rugby following a stint for the FNB Wits Young Guns in 2019 and 2020, FNB Madibaz flanker Mzwakhe Hlupheko says he thanks coach David Manuel for giving him his second shot at FNB Varsity Shield rugby.  

 


The burly loose forward moved to the Friendly City last year and says he revels in the spirit that surrounds the squad, having bought into Manuel and his management team’s plans for the future. 

 

“The camaraderie and team environment are great and the players are feeding off that. Most importantly, all of us are working together towards achieving the goals.” 

 

The 23-year-old Hlupheko, an honours student in labour relations and human resources at Nelson Mandela Bay University, acknowledges that he may not be the quickest or most talented on the field but takes immense pride in his work ethic. 

 

“I truly believe that no one can outwork me. My work-rate is one of my strengths.” 

 

He also has a reputation for being able to read the action out on the pitch better than most. 

 

“My top priority is knowing my role within the structure that we play. Then, during the game, it’s all about executing to the best of my ability.” 

 


Being recognised for his livewire efforts, like with his Player That Rocks award in the game against FNB WSU, has further energised him, says Hlupheko. 

 

“It was a great feeling, especially seeing how excited my teammates were for me. It is a moment I will cherish. 

 

“We all know that defence is a team effort, but I feel like I was rewarded for my efforts on defence and also for turnovers made in the ruck.” 

 

Hlupheko says he has found the Varsity Shield increasingly tough. 

 

“It has become much more structured and it is difficult to beat anyone. Teams have to grind it out every week to make sure they win on Friday and it’s often just a matter of which side puts in a better performance on the day.” 

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