Impi squad chosen to take on Wits, Duikers

2014-01-14 00:00

THE first public indication of how the UKZN Impi squad is shaping up for the impending Varsity Shield season became clear yesterday when a 32-player line-up was named for two friendly matches.

The Impi play Varsity Cup side Wits University at 10 am tomorrow at the Harrismith Rugby Club just over the KZN border in the Free State before taking on the celebrated 58-year-old invitation side the Duikers at 3.30 pm on Saturday at Howard College on the Durban campus in the opening match of the KZN rugby season.

Three gruelling camps in the KZN heat and humidity are over for the Impi hopefuls and, apart from players side-lined by injuries, the wider squad has been whittled down to the 32 players for the Wits and the Duikers matches.

Watching practice last week at the Peter Booysen Sports Park on the Pietermaritzburg campus it was immediately apparent that the 2014 Impi crop are much bigger, better-conditioned and more illustrious — in terms of teams they have represented — than in previous years, while the skills level is also markedly higher, which augurs well for this year’s Varsity Shield campaign that kicks off with a televised match against the traditionally-strong Central University of Technology (CUT) side in Bloemfontein at 7 pm on Monday, January 27.

This has been complemented by a far more professional management team under head coach John Mitchell, the former All Blacks head coach.

“CUT are always one of the stronger Varsity Shield sides so these hit-outs against Wits and Duikers will be invaluable,” UKZN Rugby Club chairperson Mark Schulze told The Witness yesterday.

“Also gratifying is how Harrismith Rugby Club have bought into the Wits match. It’s a big thing for the locals, they are incredibly enthusiastic and great hosts,” said Schulze.

The final Impi squad for the 2014 Varsity Shield is expected to be named soon after the Duikers match.

UKZN IMPI SQUAD

(Player’s team from last year in brackets)

Prop: Henri Boshoff (Lions U21), Leon Mulder (UKZN and Sharks U19), Luciando Santos (UKZN), Marné Coetzee (Sharks U21)

Hooker: Matthew Matiomda (Zimbabwe),

Richard Mhlongo (UKZN)

Lock: Gideon Koegelenberg (Sharks U21), Johan Wagenaar (Border U21), Adam Wessels (Zululand Rhinos), Marco Hillebrand (Ballito Dolphins and KZN Wildebeest)

Loose forward: Lwazi Ngcungama, Zwela

Zondi, André Greyvenstein, Sanele Malwane

(all UKZN), Deon Carney (Griquas), Siya Mhlongo (ex-Michaelhouse, 2013 Stellenbosch and WP U19)

Loose forward/lock: Michael Hutton (Weston Agricultural College)

Scrumhalf: Cameron Wright (Hilton College and Sharks U19), Ruhan Smit, Nelson Makhaye (both UKZN)

Flyhalf: Brendon Cope (Sharks U21), Spa Dube (UKZN)

Centre/fullback: Brandon Bailing (UKZN)

Centre: Gareth Meikle (UKZN and Sharks U21), Gavin Nyawata (Zimbabwe)

Centre/wing: Rico Lategan (UKZN), Shayne Makombe (Zimbabwe), Mondli Ntshingila (UKZN)

Wing: Ncgebo Masikane, Yandisa Mdolomba (both UKZN)

Fullback/wing: Henkie Groenewald, Sandile Zulu (both UKZN).

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