Recently-crowned SuperSport Rugby Challenge champions the Tafel Lager Griquas will face off today against defending Currie Cup champions the Cell C Sharks in their opening fixture of the 2019 edition of the Currie Cup Premier Division.
The match kicks off at 7.15pm this evening at Jonsson Kings Park Stadium in Durban and Griquas have it all to do in this first match of the Currie Cup at the intimidating Shark Tank.
However, after their successful SuperSport Rugby Challenge campaign the Griqua supporters are pinning their hopes on Griquas maybe winning the coveted Currie Cup which they last won in 1970 when they narrowly beat Northern Transvaal 11-9 in the final in Kimberley.
The Griqua team to face the Sharks this evening shows just one change from the team that won the SuperSport Rugby Challenge in Saldanha Bay last month, where Griquas beat the Pumas 28-13 in the final.
Neill Jordaan will start at No 8 in place of Will Wilson, but there are several changes to the replacement bench with Wilmar Arnoldi returning from injury, to join Mox Moxili and Denzel Hill on an eight-man bench.
Griqua conditioning and fitness coach Jacques du Toit spoke to the DFA yesterday about the step-up that has to be made to compete in South Africa’s premier rugby competition.
“It is a privilege to be involved in the Currie Cup once again,” Du Toit said. “We enter this season with a different type of momentum and understanding of what this competition requires from us as a team.
“We will need to take a step up in how we execute, what is required from us, to be successful. We are taking on the defending champions at home in a tournament they have done extremely well in over the last few years,” he added.
The coach said that Griquas preparations for tonight’s match have gone well. “We’ve had a good week at practice as a squad. The vibe has been absolutely positive and we are hoping for a good outing in Durban.”
Du Toit also said that the euphoria of winning a competition last month must be put behind them as they gear up for the gruelling competition ahead. “A few things have worked for us during the season so far and whilst the privilege to win the Supersport Rugby Challenge was immense our priority now is to make strides in the Currie Cup.
“We want to move forward in the Currie Cup and the team will require a consistent effort and execution for six matches during the round-robin stage. The other teams in the Currie Cup have strong squads and we will focus on the process to play to our full potential.”
Griquas (15-1): Anthony Volmink, Ederies Arendse, Michael Haznar, André Swarts, Enver Brandt, George Whitehead (captain), Zak Burger, Neill Jordaan, Sias Koen (vice-captain), Gideon van der Merwe, Victor Sekekete, Ian Groenewald, Ewald van der Westhuizen, AJ Le Roux, Khwezi Mona. Bench: Wilmar Arnoldi, Mox Moxili, NJ Oosthuizen, Johan Momsen, Denzel Hill, Chriswell September, Tinus de Beer, Eduan Keyter.
Sharks (15-1): Aphelele Fassi, Kobus van Wyk, JP Pietersen, Jeremy Ward (co-captain), Lwazi Mvovo, Curwin Bosch, Cameron Wright, Tera Mtembu (co-captain), Jacques Vermeulen, Luke Stringer, Hyron Andrews, Ruben van Heerden, Coenie Oosthuizen, Kerron van Vuuren, Juan Schoeman. Bench: Craig Burden, Mzamo Majola, John-Hubert Meyer, Gideon Koegelenberg, Phepsi Buthelezi, Sanele Nohamba, Marius Louw, Rhyno Smith.
This weekend’s fixtures
7.15pm: Sharks vs Griquas
3pm: Golden Lions vs Pumas
5.15pm: Western Province vs Blue Bulls