On Friday March 6 they will open their campaign against the Down Touch Griffons at Mbombela Stadium.
Although a lot has changed among the playing and coaching staff since the Vodacom Cup semi-finals loss to GWK Griquas last May, the team is determined to qualify for the final and win the cup this season.
Forwards and conditioning coach Corne Steenkamp at a press conference on Wednesday said that at a recent team-building camp the squad unanimously decided that lifting the Vodacom Cup was the goal. “Everyone is striving for that, whether it’s a new player, an old player, it’s the goal we set and want to accomplish,” said Steenkamp.
In addition to the players who have either retired or moved to other unions, the Steval Pumas will also be without experienced stalwarts Renaldo Bothma, Giant Mtyanda, Vincent Koch, Corne Fourie and Faf de Klerk who will be playing for various Super Rugby franchises.
Despite the fact that these players would have contributed greatly to the Vodacom Cup campaign, the coaching staff is excited about the bigger picture.
“We are very proud of them. It shows what we have accomplished over the past two years, being in the Pumas set-up you can get picked for a Super Rugby team. We hope they get good game time at the franchises and bring the experience and knowledge back to us for the Currie Cup,” said head coach for the Vodacom Cup, MJ Mentz.
The Pumas will face the Vodacom Blue Bulls in a friendly match at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday. The teams will also play each other in the northern section of the Vodacom Cup on March 28 at Loftus.
This match will be a barometer to measure how well the new-look Steval Pumas have gelled during the tough preseason training and preparation.
1. Sabelo Nhlapo; 2. Frank Herne; 3. De-Jay Terblanche; 4. Marius Coetzer; 5. Eduan van der Walt (captain); 6. Brian Shabangu; 7. JJ Breet; 8. Lambert Groenewald; 9. Reynier van Rooyen ; 10. JC Roos; 11. Ruwellyn Isbell; 12. Wilmaure Louw; 13. Heinrich Steyl; 14. Marcello Sampson; 15. Hoffmann Maritz; 16. Francois du Toit ; 17. Khwezi Mona; 18. Drew van Coller; 19. Frikkie Spies; 20. Marnus Schoeman; 21. Jason Colin Fraser; 22. Sinovuyo Nyoka; 23. Dewald Pretorius; 24. JW Bell and 25. Bernardo Botha.