The Currie Cup is not nearly as important on the rugby front as it was in days gone by, but it retains interest for many of us for whom it was the only competition in which we had a personal stake. It also allows us to vent some of the pent-up provincialism which we try to hide when supporting the national side.
With one or two exceptions, this friendly rivalry between the folks on the stands makes the game so much more interesting.
Western Province/ Lions
In case you did not notice – the Western Province/Lions match starts at 14h30 on Saturday. I presume this is to allow for extra time in case of a draw at the end of 80 minutes.
Soos verwag het WP sy mees ervare span moontlik gekies. Dis regtig jammer dat spelers soos Rynhard Elstadt en Nazeem Carr nie ook deel van hierdie fase van die kompetisie kan wees nie, maar hoe laat jy vir Schalk Burger weg? Daar is mense wat mor oor Juan de Jongh se weglating, maar Damian de Allende en Robert Ebersohn was waarskynlik die twee beste binnesenters in die kompetisie vanjaar. Mense vergeet ook dat Jean de Villiers vir baie lank buitesenter gespeel het voor hy binnetoe geskuif het.
Die Leeus het sleutelspelers verlede week laat rus, so diegene wat die wedstryd teen Griekwas as maatstaf wil gebruik om hul kanse Saterdag te bepaal, tas die bal mis. Hulle gaan juis met baie meer vuur inklim, en die keurders het ook ervaring as basis vir seleksie gebruik. Dit gebeur dikwels dat uitmuntende spelers in ‘n minder geagte span (na hul relegasie uit die Superreeks) nie na waarde geag word nie. Die Lions het ‘n swetterjoel sulke spelers, en Duane Vermeulen gaan sukkel om homself tot dieselfde mate te laat geld as verlede week.
If the Lions play like they have all season, WP will need all their players, and especially the reserves, to fire on all cylinders in order to win. The Lions come to Newlands as the underdogs, but a street fighting dog will often come out on top against a pedigreed one.
The home side will hopefully, for them, respond to last week’s wake-up call. The selection of Frans Steyn brings experience to the side, and Wian Herbst in place of Jannie du Plessis is certainly an improvement. Steyn, of course, also adds the luxury of a long range kicker, something which has stood the Springboks in good stead on many occasions.
They regard Sarel Pretorius as the main play maker whose job it is to unleash the dangerous Free State backline. Not so long ago, you had a Free State side able beat the best in the world one day, only to flounder like a freshly landed fish, the next week. Their performance, then, depended on whether Juan Smith was playing or not. Now Adriaan Strauss transforms the team in the same manner.
There will be a huge contest upfront where the Sharks will be determined to make up for last week’s failure. The contest between Peter-Steph du Toit and Lood de Jager will be equally fascinating, as both are strong contenders for the national number 5 jersey in a year or so.
The single biggest point of interest in this match will be the performance of Ben Smith in the outside centre position in the place of his namesake Conrad. I love the way the All Blacks play the game, and will not miss this match for anything in the world. The Wallabies may appear to be unlikely to win, but their last match against Argentina would have done them a world of good in terms of confidence.
I will leave this section for our readers to share their comments.