Star FNB UCT forwards, Michael Passaportis and Luzuko Panya(ball carrier), have been snapped up by the Mighty Elephants for the remainder of the 2009 Currie Cup First Division season.
Second row Passaportis and flanker Panya were key members of UCT’s Varsity Cup team this year and have been turning out for the Ikeys during the 2009 Western Province Super League.
The two of them, however, will be lost to UCT for the remainder of the Super League season as they look to impress in Port Elizabeth and, hopefully, force their way into the Southern Kings mix in 2011 – a Super 14 franchise that is being assembled by former UCT coach Alan Solomons.
“It’s a nice change of scene for Michael and Luzuko, both of whom have had very long seasons already,” Ikey Tigers head coach John Dobson told varsitycup.co.za.
Dobson continued: “Noks really deserves a opportunity, having had two outstanding Varsity Cup campaigns, whilst Mike has really come on well for us and he has expressed a desire to return after the Currie Cup and take part in the 2010 Varsity Cup.
“I think the Elephants, in the future, could be a stepping stone given the plans for the region, but I believe that (for now) Mike would really benefit from some more Varsity Cup rugby in 2010.”
Passaportis, 23, has played for the Western Province Under-21 team and is still eligible for two more Varsity Cup seasons.
Panya, meanwhile, played in the 2008 and 2009 Varsity Cup competitions for the Ikeys, but is no longer eligible because of his age. He is a former Border Craven Week player, and ex-Queen’s College boy, so a move to Port Elizabeth would hardly be foreign for him.
The Mighty Elephants – who are coached by Chris Grobler – are in fourth place on the Currie Cup First Division log, with two wins and two losses from their four games thus far.
They are currently under the leadership of former Springbok centre De Wet Barry who is back in South Africa after a stint with English club, Harlequins.