The Currie Cup continues this weekend with a particularly mouthwatering clash between Griquas and the Pumas in Kimberley kicking things off.
Both teams did much to light up last week’s opening round of fixtures, with the Peacock Blues pulling off a stunning upset over the Sharks in Durban.
The Cheetahs open their campaign with a difficult trip to Loftus, while Province will smell blood against a vulnerable Sharks side.
Here’s what to look out for.
Savvy Griquas bolster their challenge with canny Basson signing
One thing that stood out during their memorable 37-13 humbling of the Sharks is how Griquas’ upcoming, underrated youngsters made their mark.
Scrumhalf Zak Burger, flank Gideon van der Merwe and wing Eduan Keyter all combined brilliantly to add fizz to what is already a pretty formidable product.
On Friday evening, they will bolster it even further following the recruitment of former Springbok wing Bjorn Basson.
The 32-year-old recently still performed with distinction in the Pro14 for the Southern Kings and is an option with proven class.
As South African rugby, struggling with its overseas exodus, has realised time and again in 2019, you need experience to make the youth flourish.
Griquas: Anthony Volmink, Ederies Arendse, Michal Haznar, Andre Swarts, Eduan Keyter, George Whitehead (c), Zak Burger, Niell Jordaan, Sias Koen, Gideon van der Merwe, Victor Sekekete, Ian Groenewald, Ewald van der Westhuizen, AJ le Roux, Khwezi Mona. Bench: Wilmar Arnoldi, Mox Mxoli, Johan Momsen, Zandre Jordaan, Chriswill September, Tinus de Beer, Bjorn Basson, Ruan Kramer.
Pumas: Devon Williams, Morne Joubert, Ryan Nell (c), Henko Marais, Etienne Taljaard, Kobus Marais, Reynier van Rooyen, Willie Engelbrecht, Carel du Preez, Jeandre Rudolph, Stefan Willemse, Le Roux Roets, Marne Coetzee, Marko Janse van Rensburg, Andrew Beerwinkel. Bench: Simon Westraadt, De-Jay Terblanche, Hilton Lobberts, Phumzile Maqondwana, Ashlon Davids, Chris Smith, Alwayno Visagie, Morgan Naude.
Daan Human’s potentially awkward night
More than anything, the Bulls’ massive improvement in the scrums this season is down to one man.
At the start of the year, some sceptics were wondering if it was a worthwhile investment for the men from Loftus to contract Daan Human on a part-time basis given that he was still on the Cheetahs’ books.
A compromise was reached and the former Springbok loosehead divided his weeks between Pretoria and Bloemfontein, before signing for the Bulls recently.
Yet the reason why they wanted him so badly is because of the fine work he did with the Cheetahs.
So, which of Human’s “packs” will come out tops at Loftus on Friday night?
“I hope it goes well for him,” said Bulls head coach Pote Human.
“Daan is doing good things with the pack and we saw it in Super Rugby. It’s going to be a challenge for him, because both teams played under him.”
Blue Bulls: Divan Rossouw, Cornal Hendricks, Johnny Kotze, Burger Odendaal (c), Rosko Specman, Manie Libbok, Embrose Papier, Tim Agaba, Roelof Smit, Ruan Steenkamp, Andries Ferreira, Ruan Nortje, Wiehahn Herbst, Jaco Visagie, Simphiwe Matanzima. Bench: Johan Grobbelaar, Dayan van der Westhuizen, Conrad van Vuuren, Jean Droste, Marco van Staden, Ivan van Zyl, Marnitz Boshoff, Dylan Sage.
Free State Cheetahs: Louis Fouche, William Small-Smith, Benhard Janse van Rensburg, Dries Swanepoel, Rabz Maxwane, Tian Schoeman, Tian Meyer (c), Henco Venter, Abongile Nonkontwana, Junior Pokomela, Walt Steenkamp, Sintu Manjezi, Aranos Coetzee, Joseph Dweba, Ox Nche. Bench: Jacques du Toit, Charles Marais, Reinach Venter, JP du Preez, Jasper Wiese, Gerhard Olivier, Dian Badenhorst, Darren Adonis.
Will Province fall victim to the ‘new manager phenomenon’?
John Dobson is a man of many talents.
He’s an author, a law graduate and a businessman … and Western Province and the Stormers’ coach.
So it’s little wonder he reads quite a lot into the Sharks, their hosts at Kings Park on Saturday, parting ways with Super Rugby head coach Robert du Preez this week.
And he’s based much on research done on the English Premier League.
“The statistics from British soccer indicate that losing teams who sack their manager win 60% of the games with the new manager in charge,” said Dobson.
“It’s usually down to the relatively new environment and players wanting to impress the new coaching hierarchy. I’m not saying Robert was sacked, but a coach’s path invariably parts with that of his team. Whether it’s right or wrong, the atmosphere creates new energy among the players.”
While Dobson can certainly boast one of the best squads in this year’s tournament, the Sharks – despite their poor start against Griquas – hardly have an inferior one.
Sharks: Rhyno Smith, Kobus van Wyk, JP Pietersen, Jeremy Ward (c-c), Lwazi Mvovo, Curwin Bosch, Cameron Wright, Tera Mtembu (c-c), Jacques Vermeulen, Luke Stringer, Hyron Andrews, Ruben van Heerden, Coenie Oosthuizen, Kerron van Vuuren, Juan Schoeman. Bench: Craig Burden, Mzamo Majola, John-Hubert Meyer, Gideon Koegelenberg, Phepsi Buthelezi, Sanele Mohamba, Marius Louw, Aphelele Fassi.
Western Province: SP Marais, Edwill van der Merwe, Ruhan Nel, Dan Kriel, Seabelo Senatla, Jean-Luc du Plessis, Justin Phillips, Jaco Coetzee, JD Schickerling, Ernst van Rhyn, Chris van Zyl (c), Salmaan Moerat, Wilco Louw, Scarra Ntubeni, Corne Fourie. Bench: Chad Solomon, Kwenzo Blose, Carlu Sadie, David Meihuizen, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Godlen Masimla, Josh Stander, Craig Barry.