Home Sport ‘New’ Griquas primed and ready for Currie Cup campaign

‘New’ Griquas primed and ready for Currie Cup campaign

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Griquas have not rested on their laurels over the festive period and seemed to have spared no expense acquiring fresh talent for the team.

TAFEL Lager Griquas, with a number of debutants in its line-up, will tomorrow square up against neighbours Toyota Cheetahs at the Free State stadium in the first match of the revamped Carling Currie Cup tournament.

Griquas have not rested on their laurels over the festive period and seemed to have spared no expense acquiring fresh talent for the team.

Coach Pieter Bergh is taking ample advantage of the new purchases and will start with six debutants on the field with the same number making it onto his bench for this game.

The coach on Thursday said that it would be better to check out the rookies now, very early on in the season, so as to have time to straighten out kinks in the team while he has the space to do a recovery job should the need arise.

Bergh, although not exactly a newbie at Griquas, had as far back as November last year been signed on from his Central University of Technology team on a three-year contract. He replaced the highly-acclaimed Scott Mathie said farewell to Griquas at the end of the last season despite an above-average overall performance in the last competition.

Mathie had, during the period that he was in charge, pushed the envelope against Griquas’ opponents and at times succeeded in proving them to be quite ordinary against an organised side such as Griquas was under his tutelage.

That performance notwithstanding the Griquas management deemed it appropriate to rope in the services of an old team hand in the guise of Pieter Bergh who had once served them as an assistant for three years before he dashed off to the Free State giants.

The Northern Cape provincial side’s new talents include former Pukke hooker Gustav du Randt. They also snatched centre Rynhardt Jonker from the Vodacom Sharks, while another centre in the form of Jan Louis le Grange was signed on from the Lions.

This trio of new players joins Edward Eddie Davids who signed on for Griquas around November last year alongside Johan Mulder and Neil Otto.

In all Griquas have signed on almost a whole team to the extent that Bergh said this time around he reconnected with only three players who were with the Griquas side during his earlier three-year stint with the team.

That apart, the provincial team hit the gym circuit with vigour soon after the festive season drew to a close. So much so that they squeezed in a friendly face-off against the very same Cheetahs in Bloemfontein last Friday as a pre-season warm-up ahead of this weekend’s official start of the season.

Bergh said he had hoped to stage more practice sessions ahead of the season.

Regrettably, even though the scoreline did not really matter, Griquas came up short in that practice match. They lost 38-26 to the Cheetahs.

Telling changes

Off the field, SA Rugby Union’s General Council has itself made telling changes to this season’s format of the Currie Cup competition. The Council resolved to keep the Eastern Province union out of this year’s competition. That leaves the series with only seven competing teams.

The understanding is that the top-performing team from the First Division will be promoted to the Premier Division where they will be allowed to campaign for two years. After that, a fresh relegation-promotion round will be engaged again through which the top First Division team will get the same treatment which includes a two-year stint in the Premier division.

Also, the start and duration of this year’s Currie Cup season have been brought in line with the northern hemisphere leagues against whom some of the South African teams will get to test their strengths in the expanded Vodacom United Rugby Championship.

The South African teams in the re-organised Vodacom United Rugby Championship are the Emirates Lions, Cell C Sharks, DHL Western Province and the Vodacom Blue Bulls. These four SA teams will match up against 12 Europe based teams from Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales.

Friday’s game between the Cheetahs and Griquas kicks off at 2.30pm.

jan-Louis La Grange one of several new Griquas players who will take to the filed against the Cheetahs on Saturday. Picture : Facebook.

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