'One game at a time' says Van As
VARSITY CUP REACTION: As they head into the closing stages of the round-robin fixtures, Wits head coach Hugo van As is not about to get distracted by the hype. Leezil Hendricks reports.
After their tremendous win against reigning champions NWU-Pukke, Wits were determined to prove that it was anything but a fluke. And indeed, Van As' troops yet again proved that they can punch above their weight as the NMMU-Madibaz become their latest casualty.
It was a huge win for Wits, who kept their play-off hopes alive as UJ and UCT are waiting in the wings.
"I must be honest, we are not at that semi-final process yet.
"As a team, we have not discussed it and for us, it was more important that we had to repeat a win to prove to ourselves and fans that we could do it more than once.
"I think the semi-finals is in the back of the players’ minds but as a team, we haven’t looked at it. We want to focus on one game at the time," Van As said.
Wits' boss should be praised for his coaching philosophy. While some coaches shy away from using youngsters, Van As will often feature talent from the Under-19 age group in his squad.
The mentor has entrusted his young Golden Lions’ prodigies - like Wandisile Simelane, Gianni Lombard, Manuel Rass and more - with the great responsibility of adding value to the side.
"We are committed to the fact that we want to go with a younger generation of players, just last night we had four U19 players in the group and it has to be due to our relationship we have the Golden Lions.
"Some of my peers do not share my sentiments but as a coach, I believe they are special players and can only add value especially in a student competition.
"Besides, the young guys get exposure and will be helpful when one or two of them may join the Junior Boks at the U20 World Cup in Georgia when they take on the likes of England or New Zealand" Van As told rugby365.com
Wits' next opponents are their neighbours, the high-flying UJ. A win will not only enhance Wits’ chances of making the semi-finals but bragging rights are also up for grabs.
"Our attitude the whole campaign was one game at a time and it is no different heading into the UJ match. It is a huge game. UJ have been playing well and have improved since the Tuks game.
"It’s a derby – you don’t have to tell the players and fans the magnitude – I think whether it is club, provincial or intervarsity it is always tightly contested and intense," he stated.
By Leezil Hendricks