The Rugby Championship gets a week’s breather so this week the focus can be on the domestic challenge in the Currie Cup – and from what I’ve seen Western Province are in a class of their own.
I’ve been impressed with the Lions, who I’d imagine will play Western Province in a final in Cape Town.
I think New Zealand gets it right by not playing the core of their current All Blacks squad in the ITM Cup, and releasing all the Springboks for the semi-finals and finals of the Currie Cup does a disservice to those who work through the 10-match league programme to get the team to the play-offs.
Super Rugby is the competition that reflects the depth and overall strength of South African rugby. The Springboks are a representation of the best of the best and the Currie Cup is a feeder competition to Super Rugby and hopefully the conveyor belt that produces the next generation of heroes.
Province are the only unbeaten team in the competition and they haven’t looked like losing, even though they have drawn two matches.
The Cheetahs are a fatigued lot, given the core of their Currie Cup side is their Super Rugby team.
Griquas are always going to be a tough nut but they don’t have the player base to ever challenge for a top four and the Sharks will make the semi-finals and then bank on their Springbok players coming back to produce that something special in the play-offs.
That doesn’t always work as the Sharks found out in 2011 when their returning World Cup Springboks were mentally shot and blown to pieces by an in-form and youthful Lions Currie Cup team.
The Sharks have been a mixture of competent and indifferent but it’s understandable given what led to John Plumtree’s axing and the appointment of a new coaching trio under the direction of Brendan Venter.
The Sharks will improve but there will be a stronger indicator of by just how much in next year’s Super Rugby tournament.
The Bulls have been the let down for me. They are a youthful side but they haven’t shown the granite I’d expect of anyone nurtured in the Bulls culture.
Who has impressed you in the Currie Cup so far and who do you think has possibilities of adding value to the Springbok set-up in the next 12 months, if any?