There are some intriguing personal battles which could swing the Currie Cup final. Today we take a close look at Marco van Staden (Bulls) v Dylan Richardson (Sharks).
CAPE TOWN – There are some intriguing personal battles which could swing the Currie Cup final. Today we take a close look at Marco van Staden (Bulls) vs Dylan Richardson (Sharks).
Marco van Staden
Bulls openside flank Marco van Staden’s nickname is ‘Eskom’ – because he knocks your lights out when he tackles you. But he will be up against someone who could be seen as the opposite of that in Dylan Richardson, who will look to keep the Sharks’ lights still flickering deep into the second half of tomorrow’s Currie Cup final by competing hard at the breakdown.
But Van Staden is an old-school fetcher when it comes to creating turnovers. Having previously had a penchant for giving away penalties at the rucks, the 25-year-old has got his timing just right this season.
He doesn’t stick his head in almost every ruck, but waits to pounce on his prey at just the right time. Of course, he is also a deadly tackler. Van Staden hunts down wings as well as he lines up loose forwards or locks around the fringes, and is never shy of rolling up his sleeves and doing the dirty work.
The 22-year-old Richardson is quicker across the ground, though, so Van Staden will have to shadow him and get stuck in with a few clean-outs too. He has added a refreshing ball-carrying bow to his quiver. Not the biggest flanks around at 1.84m and 106kg, Van Staden has shown that he can pump his legs in the tackle to breach the advantage line almost at will.
Another energetic display in the final should see him back in the Springbok mix later this year, having won three Test caps in 2019. – Ashfak Mohamed
It was only a month or so ago that Sharks coach Sean Everitt said he regarded Dylan Richardson’s long-term future as being a hooker, despite the 21-year-old having had a stunning game on the openside flank in the Super Rugby Unlocked loss to the Bulls.
The versatile Richardson had been moving between hooker and flank depending on where the Sharks’ depth was most heavily hit by Covid-19, and he had been excellent in both positions.
But Everitt has clearly changed his mind as Richardson’s consistent form in the No 6 jersey has made it unthinkable for him to be anywhere else than in a position where he can forage for turnovers and use his compact build to relentlessly carry the ball.
It wasn’t that long ago that the Kearsney College old boy was a fringe player in the Sharks’ squad, well behind No 1 fetcher James Venter while at hooker, Kerron van Vuuren was the man in possession.
Now Richardson has played himself ahead of both of those players, and could just as easily be the starting hooker in the final. He is very much in the mould of the former Western Province player Deon Fourie, who was equally at home at flank and hooker.
What makes the Junior Springbok (2019) and former SA Schools (2017) player so useful is his strength over the ball and his explosive leg drive in the carry — he is stocky at 109kgs and 1.84m tall, not unlike former Bok fetcher Heinrich Brussow. – Mike Greenaway