For a number of players who have ambitions to be in the Springbok rugby team to tour Britain in November, next week’s Currie Cup final in Durban holds extra importance.
Liam Del Carme writes that the Sharks and the Blue Bulls will have a host of Springboks and tour candidates in their teams when they meet at the Absa Stadium on October 25.
The final will therefore also be important to the selectors who have to choose the South African team to play Wales in Cardiff on November 8, and to face Scotland and England on the two following Saturdays.
Even though the starting lineups for the final still have to be announced, there is no doubt that special attention will be paid to several players.
One of the features of the match is likely to be the battle between Ryan Kankowski and Blue Bulls No 8 Pierre Spies.
SIGNS OF RETURNING TO HIS BEST
Kankowski has been outstanding all season but the concussion he suffered in the test match against Italy was an untimely setback. He was unfortunate not to enjoy more opportunities in the Springbok jersey.
Spies has played in South Africa’s five most recent test matches but it is debatable whether he retained the form that made him a Springbok in the first place. However, he has shown signs of returning to his best.
Springbok loosehead props Tendai Mtawarira and Gurthrö Steenkamp will be engaged in a similar tussle.
Mtawarira has shown remarkable improvement this season. His performances away from the tight phases were impressive but he has probably not made the same impact in the scrum.
Steenkamp has not come up to the expectations that he will be the man to step into Os du Randt’s boots.
The competition between scrumhalves Ruan Pienaar and Fourie du Preez will also be one of the highlights. Pienaar has regained his confidence after a shaky start to the season and Du Preez is back to his best after recovering from his injury problems.
Left wings JP Pietersen of the Sharks and Bryan Habana are others who will be keenly watched, especially after showing superb form in recent weeks.Tweet