Impi prepare for pre-season friendlies as they await crucial players

2015-01-15 00:00

WITH three weeks to go before the ­Varsity Shield kicks off, UKZN Impi have continued pre-season preparations despite waiting on the availability of some players.

New rules in the 2015 Varsity Cup and Shield tournaments require players to be registered students while current ­students need to have a certain number of credits to play this year.

“At the moment, we are in a bit of limbo while we wait on results and acceptances of a number of players. We are not quite sure if some of the guys will be able to play,” head coach Ryan Strudwick told The Witness.

Nevertheless, the 34-man squad have continued training as usual but ­Strudwick faces the reality of not being able to pick some of the students.

There was some good news this week as a number of Sharks U20 and U21 players joined up with the side. Given that the players are accepted to study this year, Strudwick will be able to field four Sharks players during the tournament.

As the competition draws near, the coach is now focused on pre-season fixtures against Durban Collegians and College Rovers. Both Durban clubs will battle it out in the Community Cup later next month.

“We will be playing four 20 minutes chukkas against Collegians on Friday [tomorrow] at the Howard Campus in Durban. We’ll use it to build some match fitness and try some new combinations. Essentially we will be trying out for different teams,” Strudwick said.

The squad enjoyed a preseason camp in Durban last week but it was back to business as usual for the Varsity students, who are split between the campuses in Durban and Pietermaritzburg.

Strudwick has all his players together on Tuesdays and Thursdays while they work with their respective coaches at the different campuses on Mondays and Wednesdays.

Looking towards the friendlies, ­Strudwick said he was pleased with his charges’ preparedness.

“I’m feeling fairly confident and ­having some of the Sharks players in has been a big boost. We are just going to keep working with the guys we have for now.”

The two warm-up games also provide a chance to polish game structures, which Strudwick said would not change drastically from last year.

“The game is not rocket science, most teams play fairly similarly but it’s the ­execution that is different. We are not reinventing the wheel this year.”

In another effort to keep some ­continuity, Struwick said flank Lwazi Ngcungama would retain the captaincy this year.

UKZN Impi kick off their Varsity Shield campaign against the University of Western Cape on February 2.

Kick-off is at 4.45 pm in Cape Town.

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