Openside views – Interview with Luzuko Panya

Ikeys flank Luzuko Panya protecting the ball against Pukke last year. spoke to flank Luzuko Panya ahead of the ‘do or die’ Varsity Cup home semi final on Monday against Pukke.  Panya certainly is one of the pillars of John Dobson’s side which he proves week in week out, working hard on his game.

The hard working flank has been a crucial and very consistent factor in the 2009 campaign so far, he also comes with a wealth of experience having played in last season’s inaugural Varsity Cup as well as having played plenty of Super League matches in the 1st team in recent years.

The Ikey Tigers had the semi final booked with a game in hand, then there was the bizarre coincidence that would have them play Pukke last week and most probably again in the semi finals, which to top it all is also a re-match of last years semi final. All this has now been confirmed of course. Is it an advantage playing the same team twice in two weeks?

“Yes, i think it was an advantage, now we know excatly which areas we need to improve on, in order to be victorious on Moday.”  Luzuko explained.

UCT went down 17:13 but the outcome in terms of the semi final venue would have been much the same, losing or winning narrowly. How does this particular loss rate ahead of Monday’s clash?

The team certainly hasn’t been complacent, “Well we have set ourselves high standards as a team and no one was happy with the loss but it was comforting that we had secured the home semi.” Says the Ikeys flanker.

Who can forget last year’s semi final roller coaster? UCT like a Tiger in the headlights, down 17:31 and “turning” things around with Matt Turner starring as finisher.  There are still a lot of players in the team that pulled off last years amazing comeback.

Panya is one of those experienced guys trying influence the others who havent been “there” yet, during the build up this week. He says: “We encourage the guys to have the same self belief as we had last year and that same fighting spirit right till the final whistle.” 

Big match temperament will certainly be needed, because Pukke will also have learned their lessons and won’t have forgotten the way they felt when UCT clinched the match in injury time.

It is Rugby that Rocks after all and the Varsity Cup, only in its second year, already looks like a permanent fixture in SA rugby. Luzuko felt that this years competition has been quite different compared to 2008: “From a playing point of view, obviously the rules are a major factor. I think last year the game was a bit faster with the ELVs as there were way more short arm penalties. This year has been a bit tougher cause everyone was looking out for us, whereas in 2008 we were a bit of a surprise package.”

Making the semi finals again is tribute to the great work the club and the coaches are doing and also to the amazing amount of talent and depth of players the club has attracted.

When asked about  the most important aspects of his personal game,  Luzuko is very critical with his performances and feels that his game can still improve. “For Monday I want to focus on securing more turnovers for team and keep my work rate high.” says the flank.

Much as the team will give their best and bring their A game, UCT supporters will also look to better last years turn out and be there to paint the Green Mile Blue and White on Monday and get behind their boys all the way!

Luzuko knows the difference the crowd and home factor means to his side: “Thank you to all our supporters u guys have been great, Monday is gonna be awesome”.

See you on the Green Mile on Monday – Kick off 16.45

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