Having lost to the EP Kings on Tuesday, a green South African Students side will be hoping for a better defensive effort when they take on Namibia in a one-off international rugby test in Windhoek on Saturday.
Led by the University of Johannesburg’s Justin Wheeler, the newly assembled SA squad went down 36-19 in their warm-up match in Port Elizabeth.
“We put up a solid attacking performance and just need to work a bit more on our defence,” said Wheeler.
“They led 14-12 at half-time and it was quite close with 10 minutes to go. Then they got that last-minute try, which made the score-line seem more convincing.
“We only had three practice sessions as a unit, but tried to implement some of the basics. I wouldn’t say we were happy with the outcome of the match, but we’ve taken something positive from it.”
Wheeler said he felt they had fared particularly well up front against very physical opposition.
The 24-year-old loose forward said he expected the second-ranked African side to play a more similar style of rugby to theirs.
“I believe they’ll also be looking to play the ball wide. I think it will be a good match and spectators can expect to see running, attractive rugby.”
Wheeler, who has turned out for the Lions in the Currie Cup and Super Rugby, said they were confident of getting the win if they could capitalise on every opportunity that came their way.
“The guys will be playing their hearts out. Even though we’re a student side, we still have the Springbok on our chest, so we’ll be representing our country and doing our best.”
The Transport Economics student said he was looking forward to coming up against fellow UJ players Worsie Kotze and Chrysander Engelbrecht.
“They both played for Namibia in the last World Cup, so I’m looking forward to playing against them, knowing what tricks they have up their sleeves.”
Team manager Michael “Moby” Dick, who is also from UJ, said South Africa’s northern neighbours were not to be taken lightly as the side was currently being groomed for the 2015 Rugby World Cup qualifiers.
“This is an important game for them to test themselves against strong opposition.”
With 11 of the 23 squad members having represented South Africa at school or U/20 level, Dick said team management had assembled the strongest side possible.
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University of Johannesburg student Justin Wheeler (front, fourth from right) will captain the SA Students rugby team to take on Namibia in Windhoek on Saturday. Photographer: Supplied
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