I feel sorry for the likes of the Cheetahs who might be giving a few of their top players a month or so off but for most the squad they will for all intents and purposes be playing rugby for the entire calendar year come February 2018 as they will be going strong in the Pro14 but that time.
I bring this point up since this critic found himself emotionally drained (and perhaps somewhat physically tired of spending hours staring at the flat screen) after the thrills and spills of watching Super Rugby 2017.
The opening weeks of Currie Cup action passed in a blur, hardly featuring on my sports radar. I was however rocked out of my Super Rugby hungover state by a mesmerising half hour of rugby from Western Province on Saturday. The streeptruie dominated the Bulls in every aspect of the game and cruised to a 35-6 lead within the first 30 minutes. The backline found its groove and the slick footwork of Damian Willemse and SeobeloSenatla had the spectators in raptures but this critic was equally enthralled by the power display from JC Janse van Rensburg, ScarraNtubeni and Wilco Louw. This Province frontrow manhandled their opponents from the North. The groundsman will have some stern words for the tight five of the home side as they ploughed the Newlands ground with the blue pack going backward at a rate of knots. The Bulls did well to fight back but the damage was done with this early blitz from the home side.
Saturday’s entertainment was not limited to the Newlands match. The Lions came out running against the Sharks and the contest seemed dead and buried with the Lions leading 24-0 and the half time hooter having gone. I will gladly admit that I chalked this one up as a Sharks loss and changed the channel. Coming back to the match on the hour mark I couldn’t believe what had transpired.
It certainly was a thrilling weekend of local rugby as the Griquas also provided a surprise result as they were able to upset their neighbours in Bloemfontein.
Most of us have been very critical of the watered-down version of the Currie Cup that we are presently witnessing. Yes it would have been great to see more of the big nameplayers available (and hopefully we still get a number of them returning for the business end of the competition) but the one advantage is that we get to see some of the brightest young talents waiting in the wings for the various provinces in action. So let’s have a look at a few of the special talents that are raring to excite us for the next few months.
Damian Willemse (WP)– Got a taste of Super Rugby action toward the end of the season. This young pivot is prodigiously talented and after the weekend we know he can sidestep you in a phone booth. Of course, the other Damian (McKenzie) can dodgeseveral big guys in a phone booth and at the same time dial Netcare 911 to come and collect the broken egos left in his wake and yet the elusive Chiefs fullback is still not a regular All Black. Willemse clearly has the natural ingredients but now he needs to put in the hard graft to get his basics up to a high level if he wants to focus on becoming a great flyhalf (as well as doing some physical work in the gym).
Sibusiso Nkosi(Sharks) – Another we’ve seen getting his chance at Super Rugby level. Nkosi has pace and power and the ex UKZN Impi is set to take the Currie Cup by storm. Odwa Ndungane has been a stalwart for the Sharks but the future is upon us and with others like Lukhanyo Am and Curwin Bosch around him the new age Sharks have some promise about them.
MadoshTambwe (Golden Lions) – Also a young winger with a bright future. Like Nkosi,Tambwe has pace and a good step. He has a solid build to boot and a full Currie Cup campaign will go a long way in developing him as player.
Pierre Schoeman (Blue Bulls)–The loosehead is strong in the scrum and a titan with ball in hand. He will be the first-choice number one for the Bulls for this competition and I’m expecting him to have a huge impact.
Zee Mkhabela (Cheetahs) – The little scrumhalf from Empangeni got a start this past weekend and I would love to see more of the wee fella going forward.
If watching these young guns make a name for themselves is not quite enough for you then don’t be concerned - big rugby returns this coming weekend as the Rugby Championship kicks off. Despite the All Blacks expected to wipe the floor with the rest of us it should still be some good viewing – especially as the Kiwis have their sights set on the woeful Wallabies in the opening clash.
Who is Couch Critic?
Hein Diemont is the resident “Couch Critic” in the Goodforthegame Forum and he shares his weekly Super Rugby Blog the “Post Match Scuffle” or “PMS” with us.
In his blog Couch Critic channels his usual weekend swearing, ranting, cheering, whinging and bickering to the written word. Brutally honest opinions of how the Super Rugby action went down from his perspective – no punches pulled, it’s PMS time…
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