After beginning their preseason on the back end of 2016, the FNB Ikey Tigers find themselves just over two weeks away from their first FNB Varsity Cup fixture of the 2017 season. Currently away at a training camp with the squad in Riebeek West, head coach Christiaan Esterhuizen has spoken about his team’s preseason ahead of their first warm up game against Maties.
“I’ve spoken to a lot of players on a one-on-one basis already, and they’ve told me about how there’s a different energy around the camp now. We’ve definitely got a tighter squad, and the guys are a year older and more experienced now, with some of them stepping into leadership positions,” said coach Esterhuizen.
“It definitely started with our gym setup and culture. Getting the whole squad to train together at the Sports Science Institute has helped, and our players’ conditioning has improved as well,” he added.
The team’s first test comes in the shape of rivals Maties, who they will play tomorrow (Saturday, the 14th of January) in a preseason warm up game. Despite the fierce rivalry between the two universities, coach Esterhuizen is looking to utilize this early test for his team in the best way possible. “I’m going to show my cards a little and start with a side I have in mind for the season. We’ve been placing a big emphasis on defence, and we’ll also work on our attacking shape. We’re not too worried about this game, and we know that the scoreboard doesn’t matter at all because it’s just a warm up,” he said.
“We’ve only been back from the Christmas break for just over a week now, so we’re not too worried. We’re not looking for the perfect performance tomorrow; we’re just looking to work on all the things we’ve covered so far,” Esterhuizen concluded.
The FNB Ikey Tigers endured a rough campaign last season, failing to win any of their FNB Varsity Cup matches. Add to that the number of injuries suffered, the club was able to take a positive out of the emerging youth players and the brilliant form of the u/20 squad. The team kicks off their 2017 FNB Varsity Cup campaign on the 30th of January against FNB Madibaz, and will undoubtedly be looking to get off to a flying start.