Newly appointed FNB TUT coach Kaya Malotana is backing his charges to play an entertaining brand of rugby in the FNB Varsity Shield this season.
TUT kick off the new season – the 10th of the second tier competition – on Friday evening against FNB Rhodes at the Rhodes Great Field. Rhodes were the only team which the Vikings beat in a disappointing 2019 season, when they finished sixth.
Malotana, who played a Springbok Test in 1999, claims that TUT are as ready as they can be going into their opener.
"In terms of preparation, we are comfortable with what we have been able to achieve. We are obviously nervous because it's the first game and application is key," Malotana tells varsitycup.co.za before the team travelled from Pretoria to Makana [formerly Grahamstown].
Malotana has also promised the team's supporters that this will be a different team from previous seasons, which has seen the Vikings miss the playoffs in four of the last six campaigns.
"Our supporters can expect a spirited Vikings group this season who will look to be entertaining with ball in hand and resolute on defence," reveals the 44-year-old who hails from Lady Frere in the Eastern Cape.
Meanwhile, ardent TUT fan Phillemon Sikhosana tells varsitycup.co.za that he believes the Vikings will improve on the 2019 showing under the new leadership.
“We are expecting our boys to go all out this year. We have been underdogs for several years and it is time to change that. Our players know that we are a winning team and we expect them to at least make the top three this year if they can’t win the competition,” says the 24-year-old journalism graduate.
Sikhosana also emphasized the importance of having a new coach who understands the players, the culture of the team and also allows the players to show their God-given talents on the field.
“I think our new coach came with several ideas on how to go forward and he also came with a winning mentality. Our coach understands the players and he also allows them to take every match as an opportunity to shine and to be recognized,” concludes the Mpumalanga-born student.
Interviews by Ezekiel Kekana and Lakhe Thwala