THE University of the Free State (UFS) has a new group of rugby players, a new head coach and a new captain.
This is how the Shimla skipper, Neil Claassen, summed up his team’s approach to the 2016 Varsity Cup.
Although the UFS will start the tournament as defending champions, the 23-year-old Claassen believes that much has changed since 2015.
One of which is his appointment. The flanker, who can play lock as well, was recently appointed as Varsity Cup captain in his third series.
The former Springbok flanker Hendro Scholtz took over as head coach from Franco Smith, who is now the Cheetahs trainer. Mac Masina, former centre for the Lions, is a new assistant coach.
New year with more pressure
Because of all the changes, Claassen feels that the Shimlas will need a different approach to the 2016 tournament.
“There will definitely be more attention on us (as champions). However, the guys in the camp see it as a new year,” he said.
“There is pressure, but we don’t focus on that too much.”
Previous leaders set example
According to Claassen, he has never before led a team for which he played.
“I didn’t expect to be captain,” the former pupil of Paarl Gymnasium said.
“This is something new.
“I have played with good leaders like AJ (Coertzen) and Oupa (Mohoje) before, and will take forward what I have learned from them.”