The FNB NMMU-Madibaz will start with a clean slate when they take on the University of Johannesburg in the opening round of the FNB Varsity Cup rugby tournament at the UJ Stadium on Monday evening.

“I do not want to look at last year’s challenges and try to fix those problems with a new group of student-athletes,” said head coach David Maidza after the team announcement.

“They have their own adventures to look forward to.”

He said he was excited to see the true potential of this team and would like to see them “play without inhibitions”.

The Madibaz got off to a slow start last year when they lost their first match against Pukke at home and this put them on the back foot for the rest of their campaign.

“I would like to see us focus on our development in this competition game by game,” said Maidza.

“UJ, away, will be a huge challenge to kick off our tournament, but one that we are happy to tackle.” The Madibaz lost last season’s corresponding encounter 42-13 in the fourth round.

The side penned down by Maidza show a number of changes, but he said this had been done to secure long-term stability within the team.

He said experienced scrumhalf Ivan Ludick would retain the captaincy, with number eight Kevin Kaba named as his deputy.

“There are a number of young and eager athletes combined with some old hands who have proven themselves at this level. Personally, I’m excited for the now and the future of the team.”

The Madibaz had “equipped themselves well” in pre-season warm-up matches against Fort Hare University and the Southern Kings, where the focus was on testing form and combinations, said Maidza.

“As a group, we want to do NMMU proud and play with a lot of heart. That is the first and foremost important focus for the team.”

The match kicks off at 6.30pm.

Team: 15 Lindelwe Zunga; 14 Keanu Vers; 13 Jeremy Ward; 12 Andile Jho; 11 Yamkela Ngam 10 Simon Nord Bolze; 9 Ivan Ludick (C); 8 Kevin Kaba; 7 Andisa Ntsila; 6 Henry Brown; 5 Gerrit Huisamen; 4 Wynand Grassmann; 3 Nemo Roelofse; 2 Jean-Pierre Jamieson; 1 Marzuq Maarman.

Replacements: 16 Jedwyn Harty (hooker); 17 Nicolaas Oosthuizen (prop); 18 Elandre van der Merwe (utility forward); 19 Jayson Reinecke (utility forward); 20 Davron Austin Cameron (scrumhalf); 21 Courtney Winnaar (utility back); 22 Khaya Malotana (utility back); 23 James Ronald Beyl (prop).

Issued by: Coetzee Gouws
On behalf of Madibaz Sport