The Currie Cup is heading into the business end, and as a result the collisions are getting more physical and the tries more hard fought. This brings a different kind of player into the spotlight, and as a result our team looks a bit different.
The Bulls put in a particularly pleasing shift against the Cheetahs last weekend, and as a result they dominate the team with six players. They are followed by the Sharks and Western Province who each have three, the Lions with two and the Cheetahs with a single representative.
15 SP Marais (Sharks):
Marais proved his worth with fine tactical play. His positioning kicking and option taking was on point, and he may feel vindicated after being under pressure for his spot all season.
Understudy: Andries Coetzee (Lions)
14 Ruan Combrinck (Lions):
Another complete performance by the kicking winger. Combrinck scored a try and added five conversions and two penalties to his burgeoning tally of points.
Understudy: Kobus van Wyk (Western Province)
13 Paul Jordaan (Sharks):
The speedy midfielder is one of the most dangerous runners in South African rugby. He displayed the full range of his pace as well as deft touches and tough tackling.
Understudy: Juan de Jongh (Western Province)
12 Burger Odendaal (Bulls):
Odendaal is one of the most exciting midfield prospects in the country, and he proved against the Cheetahs that he wasn’t all hype. A solid performance by the youngster in all facets helped the Bulls over the line.
Understudy: Stefan Watermeyer (Pumas)
11 Sampie Mastriet (Bulls):
The former Blitzbok is the latest in a long list of Sevens players to make their presence felt on the Currie Cup stage. Mastriet displayed the full range of skills expected from a modern winger, and he capped the showing with a couple of tries.
Understudy: Justin Geduld (Western Province)
10 Demetri Catrakilis (Western Province):
The mercurial kicker has long been a banker for the men from the Cape, and against the Pumas he showed exactly why management has so much faith in his ability. In a pressure-filled cauldron, Catrakilis guided Province over the line. His goal kicking was on point and he gained massive distance with his touch finders. On attack he also proved that he was no one trick pony – catching the Pumas off guard on a few occasions. He also had two try assists for Province.
Understudy: Jacques-Louis Potgieter (Bulls)
9 Sarel Pretorius (Cheetahs):
Pretorius is regarded as somewhat of a folk hero in the Free State, and when you watch the Cheetahs play, it’s easy to understand why. He embodies the adventurous spirit of Cheetah rugby and compliments it by being the ultimate team man. His snappy passing and sharp breaks make him the form halfback in the Currie Cup.
Understudy: Piet van Zyl (Bulls)
8 Nizaam Carr (Western Province):
Carr is the personification of the complete modern loose forward. His attacking prowess often overshadows his greatest virtue – his astronomic work rate. Carr was ever present in all facets against the Pumas and he scored twice.
Understudy: Tera Mtembu (Sharks)
7 Jaco Kriel (Lions):
Fast becoming one of the most potent attacking weapons in South African rugby. His massive work rate is also the fulcrum of the Lions’ monumental forward effort.
Understudy: Michael Rhodes (Western Province)
6 Deon Stegmann (Bulls):
The Bulls skipper has had a somewhat tumultuous season, but he was at his rugged best against the Cheetahs. One would have to look far to find a more courageous player.
Understudy: Corne Steenkamp (Bulls)
5 Grant Hattingh (Bulls):
Hattingh is undoubtedly the form Currie Cup second rower at the moment. He does everything, and he does it well – apart from the odd miscued kick.
Understudy: Marco Wentzel (Sharks)
4 JC Astle (Sharks):
Young Astle was the lineout colossus for the Durbanites last weekend. He capped his fine jumping with an all-round solid display on the park – his work rate is certainly not lacking.
Understudy: Marius Coetzer (Pumas)
3 Pat Cilliers (Western Province):
The former Springbok put in yet another brilliant shift against the Pumas last weekend. Cilliers is certainly one of the strongest scrummagers in the country, and he will be a dangerous player for Province heading into the business end of the competition.
Understudy: Vincent Koch (Pumas)
2 Bongi Mbonambi (Bulls):
The bustling Bulls hooker put in a spirited performance against the Cheetahs last weekend. He brings energy to the physical exchanges – and he certainly doesn’t give anything up in the scrums or lineouts.
Understudy: Kyle Cooper (Sharks)
1 Dean Greyling (Bulls):
Yet another great showing by the big man. He is quickly returning to the form that once made him a Springbok.
Understudy: Corne Fourie (Pumas)