After nine months on the sidelines, FNB University of Fort Hare’s Lukhanyisa Tosholwana announced his return to health with a match-winning performance in the team’s first FNB Varsity Shield encounter of the season last week.
“Contributing to the Blues’ victory in such a tense match after being out of the game through injury for so long was special to both me and my team,” the flanker said after being named the Player that Rocks in the 14-13 victory over Walter Sisulu University.
The 25-year-old crossed for a crucial try on the back of a powerful rolling maul shortly before halftime to give his team a 14-5 lead at the break. But they were scoreless in the second half and had to withstand a series of attacks from their rivals to get their campaign off the ground.
Any match against the Blues’ arch-rivals is fiercely contested and the latest did not disappoint as the visitors pressed hard for victory in the closing stages at the Davidson Stadium in Alice.
“It was a tough game,” admitted Tosholwana, who learnt his rugby at Dale College in Qonce. “This has been the case for many years as they are our big rivals and, because of that, our spirit when we take them on has always been high.”
As always, the team had each other’s back in those final minutes.
“There were a few moments when it felt like we could be losing it, but the team never disappoints with their fighting spirit.”
Although he felt several teammates performed equally well, Tosholwana was “more than pleased” to be named player of the match.
“I did feel that this was a good game for me, making tackles and getting turnovers, but there is always room for improvement.”
He added that discipline would be the name of the game in the rest of the tournament.
“I think we learnt from this match the importance of being more disciplined when it comes to defence, height of the tackles and set pieces.”
The Zwelitsha-based player made his debut for the Blues in 2018 and has been a mainstay of the team until that fateful day in April last year when he tore his hamstring against Tshwane University of Technology.
“Playing in the Varsity Shield has helped me to work out how to handle the pressure of needing to perform well and how to manage any setbacks.”
He said the time in rehabilitation had taught him how important it was to be resilient and patient when things take a turn for the worse.
The defending champions take on the University of Western Cape in another home fixture on Thursday.
“We are ready to give it our all,” said Tosholwana.
“We are expecting a hard-running game because they like to move the ball a lot, so that’s going to be another challenge for our defensive systems.”
The match will be screened live on SuperSport at 7pm.