Pukke No.8 Willem van der Wal will captain the SA Universities team in their two matches against the Collegiate All-Americans – this coming Wednesday and Saturday – three Ikeys have made the cut.
Van der Wal – who led Pukke to the 2009 Varsity Cup Final – was on Monday confirmed as the SA Universities skipper, with head coach Chean Roux also naming his line-up for Wednesday evening’s match at the Danie Craven Stadium (kick-off 9pm).
“Willem’s got plenty of experience,” enthused Roux. “He’s a proven captain and, except for the Varsity Cup, he’s won pretty much everything there is to win at club level.”
And looking ahead to his team’s two matches – the second of which will be played as a Tri-Nations curtain-raiser at Newlands on Saturday – Roux added: “We’re fortunate to have a great bunch of guys in the squad.
“We had a great session this morning and another one this afternoon; it’s been nice for me as the coach as I’m still learning a bit about some of the guys in the squad. These two fixtures are a great opportunity for everyone involved; we’re all looking forward to both matches and hopefully we can get off to a winning start on Wednesday.”
Roux has named a powerful starting line-up for Wednesday’s fixture, with four of his double Varsity Cup-winning Maties men in the mix and skipper Van der Wal one of three Pukke players in the starting XV.
Van der Wal, of course, was the Varsity Cup Forward of the Tournament and he will be joined by UCT’s Therlow Pietersen (Back of the Tournament) and Maties scrumhalf Donald Stevens (the Player of the Tournament) in a powerful SA Universities line-up.
“It’s a massive honour to captain this talented side,” Van der Wal told varsitycup.co.za. “You can’t take anything for granted in sport, so I’m just over the moon to have been given this honour in my final year of studies.
“There’s a lot of other leaders in this side, many of whom have been involved with the SA Universities team before, so it will be easy to run out as captain on Wednesday.”
In all, Maties have six players in the matchday 22, with Pukke boasting four players. UJ also have four players in the squad (two of whom are starting), followed by UCT with three, Fort Hare with two players and NMMU, Shimlas and Tuks with one each.
Van der Wal added: “The nice thing about this team is that most of the guys know each other already – either from playing against each other or from being teammates in other representative teams.
“(But) those that don’t know each other have now had the chance to get chatting and there’s already a nice spirit developing within this team. The Varsity Cup has given many of us some great opportunities and this is another fantastic chance for us to experience rugby at another level.”
The SA Universities team:
15 Earl Lewis (UJ)
14 Clayton Blommetjies (Tuks)
13 Therlow Pietersen (UCT)
12 Paul Bosch (Maties)
11 Ziniko Dumaphi (Fort Hare)
10 André Smith (UJ)
9 Donald Stevens (Maties)
8 Willem van der Wal (Pukke, captain)
7 Sokana Mokana (Fort Hare)
6 Wesley Wilkins (Maties)
5 Martin Muller (UCT)
4 Jaco Nepgen (Maties)
3 Pierre Hammond (NMMU)
2 Stoffel Duvenhage (Pukke)
1 BG Uys (Pukke)
16 Edgar Maruthule (UJ)
17 Lourens Adriaanse (Maties)
18 Jaco Koch (Pukke)
19 Rob Andrew (UJ)
20 Jonathan Adendorf (Maties)
21 Marlin Ruiters (Shimlas)
22 Matthew Rosslee (UCT)
Head coach: Chean Roux (Maties)
Assistant coaches: Freddie Grobler (Tuks) and Xolofile Dakushe (Fort Hare)