The Namibian club rugby Premier League kicks off on Saturday with a rerun of last year’s final between Trustco United and FNB Wanderers.
On that occasion United came from behind to beat Wanderers 20-18 in a thrilling match, to claim their first Premier League title in 11 years.
Another tight encounter can be expected but United, who will be playing on their home ground at Trustco United Park, should start as the favourites.
Furthermore, Wanderers have been hard hit by withdrawals due to the Vodacom Cup, with nine of their players selected for the Welwitschia team that will play the Gauteng Lions on Friday evening.
Wanderers coach JP Nel, however, was confident of a good performance, saying they had a point to prove.
“We are expecting a tough game and United is always a tough opponent. They beat us in the final last year so we’ve got a point to prove, but it’s going to be a long season and hopefully we can use this as a stepping stone and kick it off in the right way.”
Nel said their pre-season preparations had gone well while he had faith in his squad.
“Our preparations have been going well and we had a good pre-season. We got some of the boys in the gym for the first time, while we started training in the second week of January.
“We’ve been a bit disrupted by the fact that we had about 22 players in the initial Vodacom Cup squad but it gives an opportunity to all the new guys at the club to show their worth so we are very excited and looking forward to this weekend’s game. It’s going to be a big game, it’s one of the biggest games of the season for us and everyone is excited.”
United coach Jood Opperman was also confident of a good performance.
“Our preparations went well and the players are fit. I’m sure they will give a good performance on Saturday and I’m expecting a ‘lekker’ game.”
Despite playing as the defending champions on their home ground, Opperman said they would not underestimate Wanderers.
“We definitely won’t underestimate Wanderers, we know they are not going to play schools rugby. It’s a new year and 2014 is in the past now.”
United only have four players in the Welwitschias squad, compared to Wanderers’ nine, but Opperman said this would not weaken Wanderers.
“In a derby the players are always highly motivated and often you find a second team player that is more motivated than a first team player, so I’m expecting a tough battle. Our mental preparation will be key,” he said.
The United team has a powerful pack which will be captained by flanker Winmar Rust who will reach a special milestone with his 100th appearance for the club. The pack also includes national players Franklin Bertolini and Stefan Neustadt, and experienced campaigners like Mornay Louw, Juandre Lamprecht and Naude Neethling.
In the backline they have exciting speedsters like Nandi Karuuombe and Tuna Amutenya, while scrumhalf Pieter Janse van Vuuren has joined them after completing his studies in South Africa, and flyhalf Dion Venter has been promoted from the second team.
The United team is as follows:
Franklin Bertolini, Morne Louw, Collen Smith, Stefan Neustadt, Jandre Lamprecht, Zayne Groenewaldt, Winmar Rust (captain), Naude Neethling, Pieter Janse van Vuuren, Dion Venter, Nandivatu Karuuome, Johan Adriannse, Tuna Amutenya, Michael Hummel and Morne Blaauw.
The substitutes are Dewald Coetzee, Clinton de Klerk, Cevin Harding, Niel van Vuuren, Martin Cronje, Henry Kandjou and Stefan Louw.
The Wanderers’ team was not available at the time of writing.
In other Premier League matches on Saturday, FNB Western Suburbs take on Unam at Suburbs Park, Rehoboth take on Reho Falcon in Rehoboth and Kudus host Dolphins in Narraville.
Courtesy of allAfricaTagged under United wanderers