Ikey Tigers Varsity Cup 2023 preview

Suleiman Hartzenberg of UCT Ikeys tackles Waqar Solaan of Maties during the 2022 Varsity Cup semifinal match ©Shaun Roy/BackpagePix

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As the 2023 FNB Varsity Cup is due to start, there have been mixed feelings in the FNB UCT Ikeys camp in their pre-season preparations.

This season will see a different-looking Ikeys squad after losing some of their key players to academics and the professional level, including 2022 try-scoring machine Suleiman Hartzenberg who has become a regularfor the Stormers.

2022 results:
Played: 10
Won: 7
Lost: 3
Log position: 2nd
Lost to FNB Maties in a home semi-final

Coach Tom Dawson-Squibb says it is expected to lose key players each season. “We have had good preparations, way less disruptive than last year, but still with some unexpected issues that we’ve had to deal with. We have a competitive squad which has made for quality training, and a nice crop of young players who’ve brought super energy into the mix.

“Our under-20s did nicely last year and it’s super to see about 10 of them in our group for pre-season. It shows the club is in a good space around giving young guys opportunities.”

The Ikey Tigers haven’t lifted any silverware since 2014, something the head coach and technical team believes needs to change.

“Expectations are never too good, as they can limit you or cause anxiety. I would say like always we have aspirations. We want to win! And I don’t begrudge this group wanting to win.”

Dawson-Squibb kept his cards close when asked which UCT players to watch out for this year. “I’ve enjoyed the look of Enos Ndiao in the pre-season, and our captain Luthando Woji looks to have a bit between his teeth this year which is exciting. Young prop Bryan le Roux has had a wretched time with injury for the past three years and I’m hoping he gets to show the country what he can do this year. He’s a special guy with, I believe, a special story ahead of him.”

The Ikey Tigers open their campaign with an away game against cross town rivals FNB Maties on the 20 February at the Danie Craven Stadium. Live on SuperSport 19.00.