Three Vodacom Cup matches in the North Section take place on Friday, with the clash in Pretoria between the Vodacom Blue Bulls and Leopards XV, both big winners last weekend, set to see sparks fly.
In the two other matches of round two, the Steval Pumas travel to Windhoek to take on the FNB Welwitschias and the Assupol Limpopo Blue Bulls will host the Xerox Golden Lions in Polokwane.
This week the focus is on a fleet-footed back from Pretoria and on a strong prop from Mbombela, Warrick Gelant and Khwezi Mona.
Rising Star #3 – Warrick Gelant (Vodacom Blue Bulls)
Playing in Green and Gold is nothing new for 19-year-old Warrick Gelant, but it’s in the light blue jersey of the Vodacom Blue Bulls where he’s aiming to make his mark in the Vodacom Cup in the coming months.
Gelant represented South Western Districts at U13, U16 and U18 levels. The former learner from Outeniqua High School in George played in all six of the SA Schools’ matches in 2012 and 2013 before moving to Pretoria, where his first taste of rugby was for UP-Tuks in the FNB Varsity Cup presented by Steinhoff International.
Five appearances for the Junior Springboks at the Junior World Championships in New Zealand followed, also at fullback, and after that Gelant, who is still eligible for the SA U20s this year, starred for the Vodacom Blue Bulls U19s.
The Blitzboks came knocking at the end of last season and Gelant was part of the squad that won the HSBC Sevens World Series tournaments in Dubai – where he scored a try on debut – and Port Elizabeth, while he also travelled to Wellington and Las Vegas recently.
Although he’s played most of his rugby to date at fullback, Gelant started last weekend’s opening match in the Vodacom Cup at inside centre, where his play-making skills and elusive running helped the Vodacom Blue Bulls score five tries in Kempton Park.
The strongly-built back got one of the five tries, on senior debut for the team from the Capital City, and is sure to make his mark this year.
Rising Star #4 – Khwezi Mona (Steval Pumas)
Big Khwezi Mona made his debut for the Steval Pumas last weekend and will get his second start for the team from the Lowveld on Friday.
Underlining his versatility, the 22-year-old Mona has been moved from tighthead to loosehead for the Steval Pumas’ visit to Windhoek.
He made four appearances in the front row for the Cell C Sharks XV in the Vodacom Cup last season and has since decided to move north to Mpumalanga, where he is being touted as one of their rising stars.
Mona, who matriculated from Selborne College in the Eastern Cape, has had to work hard to get to where he is, especially since he’s moved around a bit in the pack.
He represented Border at U16 and U18 levels, where he mostly played loose forward in his school days. After school, he moved to Durban and enrolled at the Sharks Academy, where he made the transition to prop and was coached by former Springbok Etienne Fynn while completing his B.Com-degree.
Mona showed great progress and work ethic and was part of the KZN U21 squad in 2013, but had to play in the shadows of two Junior Springbok props in Allan Dell and Maks van Dyk, before he got a run in the Vodacom Cup last year.
His versatility in the front row makes him a valuable asset in any team, something new Steval Pumas coach MJ Mentz has obviously realised. After starting in the No 3-jersey, Mona was later moved to the loosehead side of the front row in their 57-18 win over the Down Touch Griffons at Mbombela Stadium last week.
Round 2 fixtures Friday, 13 March:
- Vodacom Blue Bulls v Leopards XV. Kick-off: 15h30. Venue: Loftus B, Pretoria. Referee: Rodney Boneparte
- FNB Welwitschias v Steval Pumas. Kick-off: 19h00. Venue: Hage Geingob Stadium, Windhoek. Referee: Jaco Pretorius
- Assupol Limpopo Blue Bulls v Xerox Golden Lions – Kick-off: 19h10. Venue: New Peter Mokaba Stadium, Polokwane. Referee: AJ Jacobs