Semifinalists a year ago, UJ will join seven other teams in the bid for the Twenty20 title, with the successful side earning the right to represent South Africa in the Red Bull Campus World Cricket finals later in the year.
In the 2016 UJ went through the league phase of the competition unbeaten, only to falter at the semifinal stage against University of Western Cape.
Das Neves said they knew nothing could be taken for granted in a week where they will play their first match against NMMU-Madibaz.
He said they wanted a good start but were not placing any special emphasis on their first match.
“Every game is important,” he said. “It is always good to build momentum, although it’s not how you start but how you finish.”
Although they were not certain of their final squad due to the ongoing varsity registration, Das Neves said they were busy preparing as best they could.
“We tried our best to have continuity from 2016, but quite a few players are no longer available so we will probably have several new faces.”
Despite the degree of uncertainty around the squad, the UJ mentor said key players would be skipper Neels Bergh and his deputy Ryan Rickleton, as well as Ndumiso Mvelase, Jayden Broodryk and Matt Varner.
UJ, he added, had been performing well in the Gauteng premier league, played over 50 overs, heading the log after five victories in seven fixtures.
Das Neves did not feel the players would have any problems adjusting to the T20 format, with this being the third Varsity Cricket tournament.
“The players have probably played more T20 cricket than 50-overs cricket in their careers so they are accustomed to it.”