CAPE TOWN - University of Pretoria coach Nollis Marais believes his young team will surprise a few more established sides in the Varsity Cup this year.
UP-Tuks, who have traditionally been one of the powerhouses of Varsity Cup rugby with three previous titles, are currently going through a rebuilding phase.
Last year UP-Tuks finished a disappointing seventh position, winning only two matches all season. They will again start with a group of inexperienced players when they face off against Central University of Technology in Pretoria this evening (kick-off 6:30pm).
“It makes preparation a tad harder when your squad is so young, but this is the point of the competition, to nurture the next generation of rugby players.
We may be a green squad, but experience doesn’t always equate to success. Our players have stuck up their hands and are incredibly hungry to show what they are made of,” Marais said.
The former Bulls coach wants his team to focus on their processes and not necessarily the result.
“The problem with coaching a young, inexperienced team is that the players tend to get nervous when they are under pressure which leads to costly mistakes. The same can happen when the players get overconfident and start to do things without thinking,” he said.
“I am a firm believer in getting players to play to their strengths, but I think for now as coaches we might have to lay down a definite game plan for each game to give the players some guidance. For this, we have identified a leadership group with whom we will sit down to discuss our strategy.”
All the action will not only be happening in the nation’s capital with two matches going on down in the Western Cape. The big derby at the University of Cape Town sees the Ikeys face tournament debutants the University of Western Cape.
The latter will be experiencing Varsity Cup for the first time after dominating the Varsity Shield for the past two seasons with former Springbok Chester Williams guiding the charges from Bellville.
At Stellenbosch, the defending champions Maties are up against a strong Wits side.
The remaining fixture sees the University of Johannesburg will take on last year’s finalists NWU-Pukke.@ZaahierAdams