Returning players could give Griquas the boost they need
Tafel Lager Griquas have had very little time to feel sorry for themselves after their disappointing loss to Western Province in the final of the inaugural SuperSport Rugby Challenge in Cape Town last Sunday. The losing finalists in that competition are due to kick off their 2017 Currie Cup campaign in the opening round of the Premier Division of the competition against the Vodacom Blue Bulls at Tafel Lager Park tomorrow at 7.30pm.
Things are, however, looking up for Griquas with their ranks swelling following the return of players who were on loan during the Vodacom Super Rugby competition. The Kimberley team have welcomed back players such as Mzwanele Zito, Clinton Swart and Rudi van Rooyen, to name but a few, and these returnees have shown that they are raring to go in the Currie Cup.
Fitness coach Neil Murphy told the DFA yesterday that it was great to have a full squad at training again.
“With not much preparation work before the start of the Currie Cup, it was great to have a full squad training with us from Tuesday this week. Eight players have joined us for this campaign, together with six returning players from the Cheetahs and Kings, while two new players have joined,” said Murphy.
“It has been a long time since Griqualand West have had a squad of over 39 players.”
Murphy added that they are looking forward to a very physical game against a Blue Bulls team that has been through quite a shake-up with the arrival of John Mitchell at the helm.
“We have picked a team who we feel can match the physicality and the brute strength of the Bulls, but we must make sure we keep possession of the ball and not allow them to counter-attack with their outside backs.”
Murphy said that work in the set-pieces would be a determining factor in the outcome of this encounter. “We need to man up at the set-pieces and allow our very exciting attacking style to dice up the Bulls defence. In Currie Cup you only get a few opportunities to score and when we are offered them we need to gain maximum points to keep a strong Bulls team at bay.
“With just closing up the SuperSport Challenge, we are very excited with the new campaign that is about to kick off and want to compete with all the teams,” the coach added.
This year the Currie Cup Premier Division will be made up of seven teams: Tafel Lager Griquas, Xerox Golden Lions, Cell C Sharks, Vodacom Blue Bulls, DHL Western Province, Toyota Free State Cheetahs and the Steval Pumas.
The competition kicks off this evening with the Cheetahs starting the defence of their title against the Sharks in Bloemfontein. Tomorrow sees Griquas and the Blue Bulls in action at Tafel Lager Park, and the final first round match is scheduled for on Sunday with the Pumas hosting the Lions in Nelspruit. Western Province start their campaign with a bye.
Griquas (15-1): AJ Coertzen (capt), Ederies Arendse, Tertius Kruger, Clinton Swart, Koch Marx, André Swarts, Christiaan Meyer, Jonathan Janse van Rensburg, Sias Koen, RJ Liebenberg (v/c), FP Pelser, Mzwanele Zito, Ewald van der Westhuizen, AJ le Roux and Liam Hendricks.
Bench: Marius Fourie, Nicolaas Oosthuizen, Jonathan Adendorf, Wendal Wehr, Rudi Van Rooyen, George Whitehead, Enver Brandt.