Sharks loose forward James Venter says having the Currie Cup run concurrently with the Vodacom United Rugby Championship motivates players to leave a lasting impression in the domestic competition.
This year’s edition of the Currie Cup was shifted from its usual July/August-October slot to take place between January and June.
However, this meant that the domestic competition would run alongside the ongoing United Rugby Championship, which also has local derbies between the four participating South African teams.
While the change in the calendar has caused a bit of confusion among rugby fans, a benefit is that those players who aren’t involved in the URC squads can still play in the Currie Cup.
Due to the Sharks’ depth at loose forward, Venter is one such player who has had to bide his time playing in the Currie Cup this year.
“The URC is a really exciting tournament,” Venter said. “I think all the guys in the squad want to be involved in the URC. Our job at the moment is to play our best rugby. We have the opportunity to play on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Every single player in the squad wants to display their talents. As a team, we are going to do that.
“The fact that the two competitions are running together is amazing because the guys who are just missing out on URC selections are still able to get game time and grow as players. There is an awesome vibe around the stadium with two teams having good performances on weekends, so it’s really, really good.”
After a bye in the first round of the Currie Cup, the Sharks got their season off to a solid start, beating a tenacious Griquas team by one point in Durban before claiming a more convincing victory over Western Province at Kings Park.
Those results have placed the Sharks tied in second place with the Free State Cheetahs.
“Our first two games were early on in the season,” Venter said. “We showed good performances, but we are really starting to work well together as a team. I think what has happened nicely is that our team is pulling together. As the season continues, I think we are going to build a strong team.”
The Sharks will resume their Currie Cup campaign this Saturday with a match against a young Lions team in Johannesburg. The Lions have struggled so far, losing 48-36 to Western Province before being hammered 50-9 by the Pumas.
Despite these results, Venter is still expecting a tricky match at Ellis Park.
“They are a very strong side with a lot of talented individuals. They are very unpredictable. For us, we need to focus on controlling the game and as long as we execute our plan, we will be more than fine on the day.”
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