The Pumas are striving for an upset in their opening Currie Cup game against Western Province in Witbank on Friday.
“We are a smaller union, but we are a good team,” Pumas centre Sam Gerber told keo.co.za. “We don’t have any Springboks, so that means that we were unaffected by the national call-ups.”
WP on the other hand have lost several key players, and the 2006 Currie Cup season will be a true test of the depth and talent available in the Cape. They are almost certain to make the playoffs, and the Pumas have similar ambitions.
“We had a great year in 2005 winning the First Division of the Currie Cup, and we want to make the semi-finals this season,” said Gerber. “Because we don’t have many recognised players, it means that we have to be even better as a team.”
As the nephew of the great Springbok centre Danie Gerber, there is a degree of expectation of the 25-year-old, who wears the same number on his back.
“My uncle was one of a kind and it would be impossible for me to fill his shoes,” he explains. “But he continues to support me and help me with my game.”
Gerber began his first class career with the EP Elephants in 2001 before moving up to the Pumas in 2003. He then spent a year with the Sharks in 2004, but returned to Witbank the following year.
“Obviously it’s not good for a player to move from province to province, but I’m happy at the Pumas. We have a really close-knit side. Playing with the Sharks was a great experience, but I didn’t get much game time and it didn’t share that special environment that we have up here,” he explains.
Far from content to just waste away in a smaller union, Gerber has set his sights on higher honours, the Super 14 being the next logical step. “I need to continue playing well and building a name for myself, as this is how players from the small unions will be considered for the Super 14.”
By Jon Cardinelli