Springbok flyhalf Butch James has headed for Barbados, hoping to catch some sun, but at 16.30 (South African time – 10.30 in Barbados) he will be in front of a TV hoping to catch a glimpse of his former Sharks teammates taking on the Blue Bulls in the Currie Cup Final.
Jan De Koning of Rugby 365 reports that the World Cup-winning No.10, James, who has just signed a new three-year deal with English Premiership club Bath, says he watches the Currie Cup competition every time it is on television in the United Kingdom.
Having played virtually non-stop rugby since the Super 14 last year – including the 2007 World Cup in France, a full 2007/08 domestic and European season with Bath and again a full international season with the Boks this year – James is finally getting a much-needed break.
“I have two weeks off [from Monday, October 20],” he told rugby365.com in an exclusive interview, before he headed for the Caribbean in the hope of getting some sun – which he hasn’t seen much of during his stay in the South-West town of Bath.
He admitted that he would have liked to be in Durban on Saturday.
“I booked this holiday a month or so ago when the coach told me I would get two weeks off. If I hadn’t booked the holiday, I would definitely have headed back to Durban to watch the Final,” he added.
James says he has been keeping in close contact with the Sharks players and have been watching every game they have showed on TV in the UK.
“It would have been nice to be in Durban this weekend, because it will be a great weekend to be in Durban,” he said, adding: “You miss Durban a bit when you watch all the games.”
James, who have been on the losing side in the 2000 and 2003 Finals, says he speaks to the Sharks players “pretty often”.
“It is nice to see them in the Final and I’m very excited for them.
“I just hope they play the kind of rugby they have been playing all year, it has been good to watch and it has been getting them the results.”
Having played alongside all of the guys who will feature in Saturday’s Final, James says he is confident the Sharks have what it takes to end their 12-year trophy drought.
“All the youngsters were just starting when I was still there,” he said, adding: “They have now picked up lots of experience, they are now becoming leaders themselves – like [Ryan] Kankowski, [Brad] Barritt, [Keegan] Daniel, those sort of youngsters.”
Then there are other young players, like Ruan Pienaar and Francois Steyn, who are cast in the roles of senior players because of what they’ve achieved in the last year or so.
“If you compare them now to where they were a year ago, before the World Cup, they’ve gained a lot of experience.
“You can see in the way they play, both of them are coming on in leaps and bounds, especially Francois. He is still so young, but he is playing like one of the ‘old men’ in the team.”
Asked for his prediction of the Final, James did not hesitate to back the Sharks.
“It will be 20-19, a repeat of last year’s Super 14 score. Only this time the Sharks will win.”
Asked who will be the Sharks’ Bryan Habana, the man to score the match-winning try, he pointed to French import Frederic Michalak.
“I think Michalak will get the winning try to pay the Sharks back and to say goodbye to them.”Tweet