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Pukke to implement lessons

NWU-Pukke had a near-perfect 2014 FNB Varsity Cup presented by Steinhoff International season, winning six and losing one, as they topped the log and securing a home final.

With seemingly one hand on the trophy, they somehow managed to let a comfortable lead slip and fell at the hurdle but head coach Robert Du Preez believes they have learnt a valuable lesson from that match which holds them in good stead for the 2015 season.

"It [the season] was a great experience for all the players. We played really good rugby [throughout the campaign] but it [the final] was proof there are no favourites in a final.

"The one big lesson we have learnt is that you have to play until the last minute and it's not over until the final whistle goes. It was the first time we played in the final but that's rugby.

"We thought we had one-hand on the trophy with five minutes left in the final but that just shows you how unpredictable rugby can be," he said.

Du Preez said he and the players are excited about the upcoming season and has assembled an initial squad of approximately 50 players which will be trimmed down early 2015 after they had some practice matches.

"Everyone is excited and looking forward to the new season. We are arranging a camp which will incorporate a friendly games as part of it. It makes it [the camp] more exciting.

"We have roughly 15 new players in the squad who have come through the ranks and have either played for the Leopards Under-19 or U-21 sides.

"We have arranged to play against the Golden Lions and we are in the process of liasing with the Sharks," he added.

Pukke will be without the services of numerous players who have either completed their studies or have exceeded the age limit. These players include outstanding prop Armand van der Merwe - who shot onto the scene with sublime performances for the Golden Lions in the Currie Cup, Hofmann Marit - who has signed for the Pumas, Francois Robertse - who will be playing at the Leopards and Juan Language.

Despite losing some key players, Pukke still have the likes of utility back Sylvian Mahuza and explosive wing Luther Obi to make an impact for them.

Du Preez will have an unchanged coaching staff for the upcoming season and will be looking to provide the players with the necessary skills training which could see them emulate the likes of Oupa Mahoje.

"Varsity Cup is such a great vehicle for exposure for any player with aspirations and hopefully all the guys will take their opportunities and play well so that they can also, one day, play in the Currie Cup, Super Rugby and hopefully, the Springboks," he stated.

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