Boland coach Hawies Fourie explained the signing of tight forwards Hanyani Shimange and Quinton Davids as a necessity for the intensely physical Absa Currie Cup.
The Wellington-based union have made numerous additions to both their playing and coaching personnel since sponsors Fidentia supplied them with the financial freedom to improve their secondary status. It is still to be finalised, but there is a strong chance that 2007 may see the reimplementation of a 14-team Currie Cup. The drawing of two former Springboks should add some invaluable experience to the resurgent Boland set-up.
“We needed players of experience, especially in the tight five,” Fourie told Keo.co.za. “If we want to be competitive against sides like the Bulls, Cheetahs and Sharks, we need to improve the depth in this area.”
Fourie is aware that these two players are lacking form, as well as time on the park. Davids signed for the Vodacom Cheetahs after minimal game time for Gloucester, and received even less match action with Free State this year. With locks like Barend Pieterse, Rory Duncan, Corniel van Zyl and Bian Vermaak ahead of him in the pecking order, it was clear that the 31 year old was no longer needed. His conditioning also remains a problem, one that Boland intends to rectify.
“Quinton can still be a force in South African rugby, but it’s just a matter of his fitness. He’s going to have to pull his weight next season.”
Shimange was the victim of a very different situation. With Vodacom Western Province’s premier hooker Schalk Brits out for the season, he was presented with an ideal opportunity to solidify his place in the squad. He began to find some form before his national contract obligations prevented him from seeing out the Currie Cup.
“Shimmie was just starting to play well when he was pulled out by the Springboks,” said Fourie. “And now he is not going on tour. He was unlucky not to get more game time.”
It could be said that Shimange may have struggled to find a spot in the WP squad with Brits, Huia Edmonds and new signing Tiaan Liebenberg all fighting for the No 2 jersey. However, he will resume this positional contest in 2007, when all four hookers bid for Vodacom Super 14 selection.
“The more Boland players that play in the Super 14, the better it is for our Currie Cup campaign,” explained Fourie. “Much of our success this year was due to the experience brought through from guys who had played in that tournament, and if we had a few more in the Stormers side next year, it would definitely help our cause.”
Meanwhile, the rumoured move of former All Black Carlos Spencer to Boland is just that according to the coach. “I don’t think that’s going to happen,” he said. “All I know about it is what I’ve read in the papers.”
By Jon Cardinelli