Nick Fenton-Wells will lead the FNB Ikey Tigers in the 2010 FNB Varsity Cup presented by Steinhoff International – an opportunity which he describes as a ‘huge honour’.
Fenton-Wells – who made his Varsity Cup debut last year – won the UCT captaincy ‘race’ against scrumhalf Stu Commins, the duo having been named as joint skippers by head coach John Dobson at the start of 2010.
However, the affable loose forward does not see his appointment as a victory; it is simply an opportunity for him to help the Ikey Tigers chase their dream of winning the Varsity Cup, with Commins’s help.
“Having Stu around is a huge help for me,” Fenton-Wells told varsitycup.co.za.
“He will be a big part of the captaincy… we’ve been helping each other since pre-season started last year and I certainly won’t be able to lead the team without his help and input.
“I’m very humbled to have been given the captaincy; it’s a huge honour, but all I want now is to lead the team out against Shimlas on Monday and get this tournament started!”
When asked about impact of the Varsity Cup on his career – and life – Fenton-Wells babbled away excitedly about the tournament, saying: “The great thing about the Varsity Cup is the potential of this tournament – I think it can get even better!
“It has certainly helped me a lot,” he added. “I didn’t play in 2008, but Dobbo [John Dobson] came to me during the year [in 2008] and told me to get fit and give it a crack. He said if I showed that I was hungry he would consider me and he was true to his word.
“I owe plenty to Dobbo, and also to Fleckie [Robbie Fleck] – I wouldn’t be where I am today, and able to play in this great tournament, without either of them.”
Fenton-Wells rates World Cup-winning Springbok skipper and All Blacks captain Richie McCaw as his captaincy idols – “Smit is so well respected and liked by everyone and McCaw is such an inspiration” – but he refuses to make any bold predictions ahead of the 2010 Varsity Cup season.
He said: “I know it might sound like a cliché, but all I can do as captain and all I want my players to do is take each game as it comes.
”The spirit in the squad is unbelievable and I know the guys, like me, want the Varsity Cup to start tomorrow – not Monday! We’ve had some great warm-up games and our preparation has been excellent, but we just want to get out there now and get the Varsity Cup underway.”
The Ikeys will face up to the Shimlas, from Free State, at NMMU’s home ground in Port Elizabeth (kick-off 2.30pm) – one of three matches at the Xerox NMMU Stadium; with the other Varsity Cup openers taking place at Tukkies’ LC de Villiers Stadium.
“It’s going to be a great match,” said Fenton-Wells.
“We’ve had some tough battles against Shimlas in the past and we’re expecting nothing different this time – even at a neutral venue.”