Things to look out for in this weekend’s Currie Cup action

Siya Kolisi training on the sidelines during the DHL Western Province captains run at DHL Newlands Stadium on July 26, 2019 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images)

It’s patently undeniable: all that matters is Siya Kolisi’s return to competitive action.

Nope, Dobbo. Newlands is pretty much just about Siya Kolisi

Over the past few weeks, Springbok captain Siya Kolisi has undoubtedly reaffirmed his class as a human being.

He was the waterboy for his national teammates in the Test against the Wallabies at Ellis Park, he’s visited and inspired various schools and he’s been an “absolute professional” in the build-up to his return to competitive rugby.

Kolisi will, on Friday, be in the starting line-up for Western Province’s meeting with the Pumas after recovering from a knee injury.

“It’s impressive to see him buy in on an emotional level. He clearly doesn’t just view this match as a step back to the Springboks. He is eager to win,” said Province coach, John Dobson.

“He’s been with us for the past three weeks and has been unbelievably professional with his hard work on the training field, insights and support.”

While Kolisi then typically puts the team first, the rest of the rugby fraternity probably won’t.

The versatile flanker is South Africa’s earmarked leader for the World Cup and needs a good run to be back for Argentina at Loftus next week.

This match really is all about him … even if he doesn’t think so.

Western Province: Dillyn Leyds, Sergeal Petersen, Ruhan Nel, Dan Kriel, Seabelo Senatla, Josh Stander, Justin Phillips, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Ernst van Rhyn, Siya Kolisi, JD Schickerling, Chris van Zyl (c), Wilco Louw, Scarra Ntubeni, Corne Fourie. Bench: Chad Solomon, Kwenzo Blose, Neethling Fouche, Salmaan Moerat, Nama Xaba, Godlen Masimla, Jean-Luc du Plessis, Edwill van der Merwe.

Pumas: Devon Williams, Morne Joubert, Alwayno Visagie, Ryan Nell (c), Etienne Taljaard, Chris Smith, Ashlon Davids, Jeandre Rudolph, Willie Engelbrecht, Francois Kleinhans, Stefan Willemse, Le Roux Roets, Marne Coetzee, Marko Janse van Rensburg, Andrew Beerwinkel. Bench: Simon Westraadt, De-Jay Terblanche, Hilton Lobberts, Phumzile Maqondwana, Ginter Smuts, Kobus Marais, Ruwellyn Isbell, Morgan Naude.

Clayton needs to blossom in Durban

Clayton Blommetjies of Leicester Tigers issues instructions during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby match between Leicester Tigers and Bristol Bears at Welford Road Stadium on April 27, 2019 in Leicester, United Kingdom. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

It was with equal measure fanfare and surprise that Clayton Blommetjies managed to land himself a gig at Welsh giants Llanelli in mid-2018 following a fine Pro14 campaign with his beloved Cheetahs.

But the dream was ended one year early last month when the Scarlets terminated his contract, ostensibly because of fitness and work ethic issues.

Out of a job, Blommetjies managed to organise a return to the Cheetahs for the Currie Cup campaign and undoubtedly adds depth.

More importantly, he needs to repair a bit of a tarnished reputation.

“People underestimate him. We’re happy to have him back,” Free State coach Franco Smith told Netwerk24.

“The Free State is a place of opportunity and Clayton needs to find his feet in South African rugby again.”

Sharks: Aphelele Fassi, Kobus van Wyk, JP Pietersen, Jeremy Ward (c-c), Lwazi Mvovo, Curwin Bosch, Sanele Nohamba, Tera Mtembu (c-c), Jacques Vermeulen, Phepsi Buthelezi, Hyron Andrews, Ruben van Heerden, Coenie Oosthuizen, Kerron van Vuuren, Mzamo Majola. Bench: Craig Burden, Juan Schoeman, John-Hubert Meyer, Gideon Koegelenberg, Evan Roos, Cameron Wright, Marius Louw, Rhyno Smith.

Free State Cheetahs: Clayton Blommetjies, Carel-Jan Coetzee, Benhard Janse van Rensburg, Dries Swanepoel, Rabz Maxwane, Louis Fouche, Tian Meyer (c), Henco Venter, Abongile Nonkontwana, Junior Pokomela, JP du Preez, Sintu Manjezi, Aranos Coetzee, Jospeh Dweba, Charles Marais. Bench: Jacques du Toit, Ox Nche, Reinach Venter, Walt Steenkamp, Gerhard Olivier, Jasper Wiese, Dian Badenhorst/Tapiwa Mafura, Ruan Pienaar.

The comeback kings aren’t worried about their starts

Marnus Schoeman of the Lions challenged by Marne Coetzee of the Pumas during the Currie Cup match between Xerox Golden Lions XV and Phakisa Pumas at Emirates Airline Park on July 13, 2019 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images)

You won’t find anyone at Ellis Park complaining about the Golden Lions’ start to the Currie Cup campaign.

Three wins from three is dreamy in any book.

But there have been concerns raised over the fact that Cash van Rooyen’s charges have had to overhaul deficits in all those games and, as any pundit will tell you, the hallmark of a true champion team is one that doesn’t invariably start badly.

Van Rooyen is hardly in denial about the Lions’ habit of conceding early points, yet he’s also not exactly worried about it.

And he might have a point.

“It’s something we have worked on,” said Van Rooyen.

“But some of our starts haven’t always been bad. For example, last weekend against the Cheetahs we showed good intensity right from the start. It’s just about not leaking points.”

This vintage is indeed a youthful, inexperienced one.

It’s unlikely too that, as they gel as a unit, they won’t get it right eventually and a vulnerable, weakened Blue Bulls neighbour on Saturday would represent an ideal opportunity.

Golden Lions: Tyrone Green, Madosh Tambwe, Wandi Simelane, Eddie Fouche, Stean Pienaar, Shaun Reynolds, Ross Cronje (c), Hacjivah Dayimani, Len Massyn, Marnus Schoeman, Reinhard Nothnagel, Ruben Schoeman, Johannes Jonker, Pieter Jansen, Sti Sithole. Bench: Jan-Henning Campher, Leo Kruger, Chergin Fillies, Rhyno Herbst, Vince Tshituka, James Venter, Dillon Smit, Duncan Matthews.

Blue Bulls: Divan Rossouw, Cornal Hendricks, Dylan Sage, Johnny Kotze, Rosko Specman, Manie Libbok, Ivan van Zyl (c), Tim Agaba, Wian Vosloo, Fred Eksteen, Ruan Nortje, Andries Ferreira, Wiehahn Herbst, Johan Grobbelaar, Dayan van der Westhuizen. Bench: Jaco Visagie, Madot Mabokela, Conraad van Vuuren, Adre Smit, Jean Droste, Embrose Papier, Marnitz Boshoff, Stedman Gans.

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