Assistant coach Barend Pieterse says Griquas are holding thumbs for the all clear to fill up Griqua Park for the Currie Cup showpiece against the Pumas on Saturday. DYLAN JACK reports.
The final will be played in Kimberley for the first time in 52 years after Griquas beat the Vodacom Bulls 30-19 in Pretoria on Friday in the semi-finals, while the Pumas stunned the Cheetahs 38-35 in Bloemfontein in a major success story for two of South Africa’s underdog unions.
Currently, only 50% of stadium capacity is allowed at sports matches due to national restrictions, and Griqua Park would then only accomodate half of its 12,800 seats for the final on Saturday.
However, according to a report by Netwerk24, Griquas believe there is a strong possibility that government could completely lift the current restrictions this week.
During an online media conference on Monday, Pieterse is hopeful Griquas can play the decider of the sport’s oldest competition in front of a full crowd of supporters.
“That will be amazing. As I told some of the guys here, I was lucky enough to be involved in a few finals as a player,” the forwards coach said. “You would always play in sold-out stadiums, whether that was at Loftus or in Bloemfontein.
“I can just imagine a Currie Cup final in Kimberley with a sold-out stadium, I am not sure what the capacity would be, but I’m guessing between 9,000 and 10,000. It would be amazing and everybody would be excited for that, so I hope it happens.
“I can’t even imagine what it means. I spoke to someone this morning, an old man, he said he was here in 1970 when the Currie Cup final was played here and he never thought there would be another final in Kimberley again. I will be honest, I can’t even imagine what it would mean to the people.
“I am just sure that everyone is very excited to see how it will go on the day, especially if we are able to go to capacity. As we sit here, I haven’t really seen anything in the streets, but I am sure as the week goes along, we will see more Griquas flags and people coming to the stadium to get tickets.”
Griquas progressed to the final by playing some expansive rugby, picking up eight bonus points and scoring 48 tries and 383 points.
The previous clash between the two finalists ended with Griquas claiming a 45-44 win in Mbombela, and the hosts have no plans to change the way they play on Saturday.
“You want to play according to what has worked for you during the season,” said Pieterse. “Because it is a final, I think the stress levels might be a little bit higher. But if you think about how we got here and how the Pumas got here, it was with nice, expansive rugby.
“There will be one or two things that we will be trying, because it’s a final. We are expecting exactly the same from the Pumas, with their forwards trying to dominate physically.”
Pieterse, who as a Cheetahs player beat the Bulls in the 2005 Currie Cup final, hoped the Griquas players are able to embrace the unique experience of a finals week.
He added: “The most important thing for them is to enjoy the week. The rugby, whatever happens, win or lose, it has been a great season for both teams and there are players who have put up their hands from the first game. They must really just try and enjoy it and take everything in.
“The bus or the trip down to the stadium, those are the things that you remember afterwards.
“I will never forget Franco Smith telling me when we beat the Bulls in 2005, to stay on the field and take everything in. That will be my message to the guys. Yes, the rugby is the main part, but they have worked hard to get here and they must just enjoy it and have fun with it.”
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