The SA Rugby magazine team identifies what they would love to see come out of the last round of regular-season Currie Cup fixtures this weekend.
Craig Lewis (editor) wants Thomas du Toit to provide another reminder of his ability:
When the powerful Sharks front rower earned a start in last weekend’s Test against Argentina, there was understandable speculation that he could maybe sneak his way into the Boks’ World Cup reckoning.
With Trevor Nyakane increasingly being viewed as more of a specialist tighthead prop, Du Toit could well have added value to the Boks due to his ability to play on either side of the scrum.
However, Du Toit was released back to the Sharks this past week, and it would appear that his World Cup dream may be dashed.
Even with that in mind, it would be fantastic to see Du Toit deliver a barnstorming performance against the Vodacom Bulls this weekend, while he will surely be added to the Boks’ standby list should there be any injuries at the World Cup.
Jon Cardinelli (chief writer) hopes that Damian Willemse gives Rassie Erasmus more food for thought ahead of the World Cup announcement:
Last Saturday, the Bok coach suggested that Willemse is unlikely to travel with the squad to the World Cup. Willemse made his return against Griquas last Friday after a lengthy layoff, and produced some neat touches in the second half. Erasmus, however, feels that time is running out for Willemse to regain the match-fitness that made him a star in the recent Super Rugby tournament and for the Boks in 2018.
Can Willemse change Erasmus’ mind with an influential showing against the Free State Cheetahs on Saturday – and even though he is starting at No 10, the Bok coach may be set on taking Willie le Roux and Warrick Gelant to Japan as his fullback options. If either of those players breaks down, however, he may have reason to give Willemse – who played 10 and 15 for the Boks last year – a call.
Dylan Jack (staff writer) hopes Griquas seal a home semi-final:
Griquas have undoubtedly been the surprise package of this year’s competition, losing just one of their five fixtures so far and leading the table for much of the season.
The Kimberley-based side, who claimed the Rugby Challenge title earlier this year, are one step away from sealing a home semi-final, having already booked their place in the playoffs last weekend.
Brent Janse van Rensburg has brought structure to the team while still encouraging a free-flowing brand of rugby to help them claim the scalps of many of the top sides this year.
It would be just reward for Griquas if they get the job done against the Lions on Saturday.
Mariette Adams (staff writer) hopes the Currie Cup newcomers make an immediate impact:
In recent Currie Cup campaigns we’ve witnessed at first hand how at least one talented youngster announced himself on the big stage. Unfortunately, the 2019 tournament is so far proving to be the exception to that rule. No one player has really stepped up and outperformed the rest of the pack this year.
But there is hope yet. With one round of regular-season fixtures remaining and five teams still in the hunt for semi-final qualification, Western Province and the Vodacom Blue Bulls have selected Rikus Pretorius and Vaughen Isaacs respectively, while the Sharks recently handed debuts to halfbacks Sanele Nohamba and Boeta Chamberlain.
WP need a win against the Cheetahs to advance and have brought in Pretorius as inside centre. It is a big call by coach John Dobson, but a deserved one for Pretorius nonetheless. The former Junior Bok has all the makings to become a great player and Saturday’s crucial encounter in Bloemfontein, the city where he spent his formative years as a scholar and player at Grey College, is the perfect platform to launch his senior career.
Then there’s the Bulls and Isaacs. The team is languishing in second-last position on the log with no real chance of further progression. And while Manie Libbok has done relatively well in the last couple of weeks, the Bulls really need someone more physical and consistent calling the shots at flyhalf. If Isaacs – who doubles up as fullback – makes a good impression should he take the field against the Sharks, his name might just pop up when coach Pote Human considers his Super Rugby squad for next season.
Lastly, the Sharks and their rookie halfbacks. Nohamba has been brilliant, while Chamberlain had a solid outing on debut last week. The Durban-based side’s fate is not sealed yet and they too can bomb out of the competition if they don’t win at Loftus. The individual performances of Nohamba and Chamberlain could well determine whether the Sharks’ season come to an abrupt end or not.
I wish these youngsters well this coming weekend, even if their teams end up losing.
Photo: Shaun Roy/Gallo Images