EP skipper ready for battle

Mtyanda says Elephants can win Rugby Challenge trophy

CONFIDENT: EP Elephants captain Lubabalo “Giant” Mtyanda
CONFIDENT: EP Elephants captain Lubabalo “Giant” Mtyanda

With eager new recruits in  their ranks, the EP Elephants have the talent to go all the way and win the SuperSport Rugby Challenge, EP skipper Lubabalo “Giant” Mtyanda has predicted.

A golden chance to exorcise the demons of the past awaits EP when they face a formidable Boland outfit in Wellington on Saturday.

After experiencing their worst season in history last year, the Elephants are determined to put the record straight in the Rugby Challenge.

“As a team I think we have big chance of winning this thing,” Mtyanda said.

“In sport you always work under pressure and results are expected of you. So the guys are feeling the pressure, but they are very excited to showcase what we have in this team and what we can do.

“The pressure will be there and the guys know that it is there. We have been talking about that and we need to perform under those circumstances.”

EP head coach Chumani Booi agreed with his captain that there was pressure on the Elephants to perform. “There is a lot of excitement around EP Rugby this season from within the team and from the public,” Booi said.

“That does come with pressure, but I think our preparation for the new season has gone very well. We do not want to get carried away and lose our focus.

“The team are looking forward to the game and we want to put up a big fight against Boland. I think it is important for the guys to understand that although the pressure is there we need to go out there and enjoy ourselves.

After starting the season with a win over SWD in a friendly in George, hopes are high that the Elephants will make a strong challenge for honours.

Booi said the EP team had been changed because the Kings had injuries ahead of their PRO14 match against the Cheetahs on Saturday. “The Kings had injuries at prop and lock so we had to make changes.

We are bringing in Dewaldt Barnard and Ashley Viviers. “Xandre Vos and Jurie van Vuuren will be stepping up to the PRO14 squad,” Booi said.

Mtyanda is one of several Kings PRO14 players who have been drafted into the Elephants squad. There will be lots of pace in the EP back division with Ntebeni Dukisa, Mike Makase and Michael Botha all pulling on the black and red hoops.

Booi will be hoping that Missionvale United scrumhalf Richmond Gora and flyhalf Martin du Toit will form a pairing that will be keep the Elephants on the front foot against Boland.

“Our head coach Chumani Booi is gelling very well with his assistant coaches Sivuyile Kobokana (forwards) and Garrin August (backline) ,” EP manager Thando Manana said.

“Obviously they are not experienced at this level, but they are eager to learn and that is something that Chumani appreciates. He gives them ample opportunity to slot in whatever they feel like doing with the squad. “In terms of the style of play you are likely to see a very attractive brand of rugby from the team. Chumani is looking at players who work hard on defence and attack lines.”

EP Elephants team:(Nos 1 to 15): Dewaldt Barnard, Tango Balekile, Luvuyo Pupuma, Ashley Viviers, Lubabalo "Giant" Mtyanda (capt), Renier Erasmus, Shaun Basson, Diego Williams, Richmond Gora, Martin du Toit, Athi Mahinje, Ntabeni Dukisa, Somila Mantyoyi, Mike Makase, Michael Botha. Replacements: (Nos 16 to 22): Mbeko Kota, Justin Forwood, Johan van Wyk, Anele Lungisa, Sonwabo Majola, Tristan Fourie, Sherwin Slater.