DYLAN JACK identifies the standout South African players based on performances throughout the 2020-21 Currie Cup campaign.
The Currie Cup season was brought to an end this past weekend after a thrilling final between the Vodacom Bulls and Sharks in Pretoria, with the home side snatching a memorable victory in the second period of extra time.
It is unsurprising that the majority of my team of the season, which is based on performances throughout the entire campaign, is made up from the Bulls, with Jake White’s team contributing six players overall.
There were a number of tough calls to make, with the likes of Frans Steyn, Elrigh Louw, Arno Botha, Sintu Manjezi, Aphelele Fassi, Yaw Penxe, Zak Burger, Eduan Keyter and Devon Williams all unlucky to miss out on selection.
The Lions’ Tiaan Swanepoel fills the fullback spot ahead of Damian Willemse and David Kriel after a number of outstanding performances helped the Johannesburg side into the semi-finals. Swanepoel memorably kicked four penalties to help the Lions beat Western Province in Johannesburg and finished the season with 13 penalties overall.
On the wings, I have opted for the Sharks’ Sbu Nkosi, who scored a fantastic try in the Currie Cup final, and the Bulls’ Kurt-Lee Arendse. Both players were in terrific form for their respective teams.
In midfield, Cornal Hendricks has been named ahead of Frans Steyn at inside centre and I have paired him with the Lions’ Wandisile Simelane, who looked electric whenever he got into space.
It was a tough decision at flyhalf between Morne Steyn and Curwin Bosch, but the latter makes it in after his performances off the kicking tee were a major driving force behind the Sharks reaching the Currie Cup final. Bosch has been paired with scrumhalf Ivan van Zyl, who continued his excellent form from Super Rugby Unlocked.
My loose trio consists of Bulls captain Duane Vermeulen and openside flank Marco van Staden, while Vincent Tshituka grew as the season went on and looked like a genuine gamebreaker for the Lions.
Bulls youngster Ruan Nortje experienced a genuine breakthrough season as the 22-year-old took ownership of the team’s lineouts and was world class in the Currie Cup playoffs. He has been paired with Ruben van Heerden, who was tremendous for the Sharks in both the No 4 and 5 jerseys.
Finally, an all-Western Province and Springbok front row of Frans Malherbe, Bongi Mbonambi and Steven Kitshoff completes the team.
Currie Cup Team of the Season:
15 Tiaan Swanepoel (Lions)
14 Sbu Nkosi (Sharks)
13 Wandisile Simelane (Lions)
12 Cornal Hendricks (Bulls)
11 Kurt-Lee Arendse (Bulls)
10 Curwin Bosch (Sharks)
9 Ivan van Zyl (Bulls)
8 Duane Vermeulen (Bulls)
7 Vincent Tshituka (Lions)
6 Marco van Staden (Bulls)
5 Ruan Nortje (Bulls)
4 Ruben van Heerden (Sharks)
3 Frans Malherbe (Western Province)
2 Bongi Mbonambi (Western Province)
1 Steven Kitshoff (Western Province)
Photo: Anton Geyser/Gallo Images