UCT rugby head coach Kevin Foote is preparing his charges for a battle in the trenches against Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) in the first round of the 2013 FNB Varsity Cup tonight.
The Ikeys host a Madibaz side that triumphed 23-21 in last year's reverse fixture. Foote praised the Madibaz's set-up, from their "very good" coaching staff to their recruitment from the Sharks academy for the Varsity Cup season.
"Obviously with the energy of the [Southern] Kings coming into Super Rugby, they're going to feed off that [too]," says Foote. "They're going to be a physical opposition. We know that we're going to have to man up up front, otherwise it's going to be a long day at the office."
Foote is able to call on a more experienced squad than last year, and is confident that his "fit and happy" playing staff can open the season with a victory.
"We've got a lot of guys that seem to be in a very good place and they buy into the whole UCT culture," says the coach. "They combine the fitness with happiness and now we've got a bit of experience."
New faces like SA u-20 props Ollie Kebble and Sti Sithole bring fresh energy to the team, while 'old' heads like centre Liam Bax and scrumhalf Ricky Schroeder return for another crack at the trophy. Foote warned, however, that fixating on a possible semi-final spot so early in the season could be detrimental.
"If you take your eye off the ball you'll get hurt," he stated. "For now, it's just about concentrating on this first game, especially our home games. We've got to win our home games. If we can accomplish that we'll be in a good place."
The match kicks off at 19h00 at the Groote Schuur Rugby Fields on UCT's Upper Campus.
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