Coetzee: ‘Cup heartache is over’

Allister Coetzee says it was a brilliant collective effort that broke Western Province’s 11-year Currie Cup drought in Durban.

During the post-match interview, Coetzee pointed back to an important moment after WP’s 21-16 semi-final comeback victory over the Golden Lions at Ellis Park last Saturday. The players were gathered in a huddle and were happy to come from behind and steal the win.

However, Coetzee told his troops that there was one thing missing. The trophy was not in the centre of the huddle, so the job was not over.

He stressed to his side that they needed to focus on achieving victory against the Sharks at Kings Park, where they’ve lost all year.

This formed part of the inspiration that helped WP deliver a strong team performance to down the title favourites 25-18 at Kings Park.

‘It’s been 11 tough years in Cape Town,’ Coetzee told keo.co.za. ‘I’ve experienced four of those years of cup heartache. But finally it’s over. It was a great team performance that got us across that finish line. We found the right balance in our game plan, and we executed our plans very well.

‘We were definitely the underdogs. But we showed great determination out there. Take nothing away from the Sharks, they are a quality outfit and they’ll be a force next season.

‘I’ll take you back to 2010, when we also had three teams in the domestic finals,’ he continued. ‘Our U19s, U21s and senior team lost those matches. We played like individuals. Last year against the Lions in the semis, we played like individuals too.

‘This year, we played like a team. Overall, we got two wins out of three matches. Considering that most of the U21s’ key players were playing in the senior team this season, that’s a massive accomplishment.’

While Coetzee noted it was a collective effort that did the job on the day, he also recognised the individual contributions of Man of the Match and skipper Deon Fourie, hooker Scarra Ntubeni, lock Eben Etzebeth, flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis and outside centre Juan de Jongh.

‘In a final, you need your key players to step up. Those guys did their job very well on the night,’ he said. ‘Eben was colossal and Scarra showed great maturity for a young player. Deon was amazing, like he has been all season. Demetri and Juan shined for us in the backline.

‘Even the young inside centre Damian de Allende held his own. I was criticised for picking a so-called rookie in the starting line-up for the final. But looked how well he did.’

Coetzee hopes this Currie Cup triumph will form an integral part of his plans to build a strong culture at Province.

‘I want to grow a culture among all the teams … a winning culture,’ said Coetzee. ‘I want to have a place where there is confidence, where the players are happy and want to contribute to success. A place where everyone trusts everyone on his outside on the field.

‘This will help us grow depth and build experience. We’ve given our younger players opportunities, so the blend of experience bodes well for the future. This Currie Cup final is a platform for us to build something special.’

By Gareth Duncan , in Durban