With the importance of the upcoming FNB Varsity Cup promotion match on their minds, the Madibaz stuck to the preparation plan that has served them so well in the Varsity Shield competition this season.
The runners-up of the second-tier tournament after the round-robin phase will face Central University of Technology in an all-or-nothing match in Potchefstroom on Monday with the ambition of earning a slot in the 2024 Varsity Cup.
The game will be the curtain-raiser to the Cup final between NWU Eagles and UCT.
Madibaz coach David Manuel explained that they had adopted the same approach that brought them to the brink of qualifying for the prestigious Varsity Cup.
“We do have a young team with an average age of 22 and you don’t want to create unnecessary pressure on the players,” he said.
Therefore the mentor isn’t a fan of making any one game seem more important than another. As far as he is concerned, their normal preparation protocols were the best way to get the team game-ready this week.
Their main aim is to execute their processes well as that is something they can control. And, naturally, they need to stay disciplined for the full 80 minutes.
This has been a constant theme for Manuel this year as he understands the danger of playing catch-up rugby, especially against a team with the ability of CUT.
The Bloem side won three of their seven matches to end level with Wits. They however placed seventh on the log because they narrowly lost to the Joburg team in the round-robin phase.
“We definitely know that we have to give it our all. We have done our analysis and know what they will bring to the match,” said Manuel.
“To end seventh in the Varsity Cup shows what a dangerous side they are with ball in hand and they are quick to capitalise on any mistakes.”
Their counter measure would be to impose their own game plan on their opponents from the get-go and to remain disciplined throughout, he said.
Staying in the fight until the final whistle will be critical in Potch.
“You cannot afford to give away soft points because psychologically it becomes very difficult to close the gap.”
The players from Nelson Mandela University were granted some time off to recharge their batteries after losing to Cape Peninsula University of Technology in the Shield semi-finals last week.
“We regrouped on Monday and continued our preparation on Wednesday, so we will have had three good training sessions by the time we fly out on Sunday.
With the Varsity Cup promotion and championship matches taking place at the same venue, Manuel expected a great atmosphere but was under no illusions about the challenge ahead.
“It will be tough, but we are prepared to grind it out to give ourselves a chance.”
Kick-off is at 3.30pm with the Cup final following at 7pm.