Varsity Cup: NWU-Puk aims high
The national club champions will sweat blood in their attempt to hold the gold cup high for the first time in the Varsity Cup.
This is the new year’s resolution of Hannes Esterhuizen and his team with less than a month to go before the start of this prestigious tournament in their match against NMMU in Port Elizabeth.
The sparks are going to fly in PE with the NWU-Puk that will want to gain the advantage right from the start and NMMU that will want to show that they are anything but cannon fodder.
“If one looks at where the teams are in the rankings, NMMU may look like an easy beginning, but we have never been able to beat them convincingly in PE. The danger also exists that we can look beyond the first game, which could cost us.
That is why we approach the game in the same way that we would approach a game against Maties, UJ, UCT or Tukkies,” Esterhuizen said.
The NWU-Puk finished their pre-season training on 16 December and started all out again on 5 January.
“The guys’ predisposition is very good. We have a strong group of leaders in guys like Joubert Engelbrecht, Siya Mdaka, Philip de Wet, Strand Kruger, Spanner Pretorius and the Jacobs brothers (Neill and Ruan). There is a very good spirit among the group.”
Only two new players, Justin Botha and Zander de Kock, have been included in the group, although a knee injury will keep Botha off the field for the duration of the tournament.
It is a big setback and restricts the University’s depth on fly-half.
Esterhuizen took over from Rudy Joubert as head coach during last year’s Varsity Cup and has had little time to find his feet, but this year his boots are firmly on the ground right from the start.
“When I took over last year halfway through the tournament there wasn’t enough time to make many changes. To change takes time. This time I was able to start preparing for the Varsity Cup in November and it makes a big difference.”
“I’m very happy with where we are at the moment.”
Prof Herman van Schalkwyk, rector of the North West University's Potchefstroom campus, address the Pukke's Varsity Cup squad during the official presentation of their kit.