As we all know, Currie Cup 2013 kicks off tomorrow, with a fair bit of excitement in the air. With new faces in new teams and with a fair amount of young talent on display, it could be a very unpredictable tournament. I see that as a challenge, and will try predict the finishing order of the six teams before a ball is passed, kicked or dropped.
Before I go any further, I am not trying to predict the winner, I am merely predicting the finishing order on the log. Who knows what happens in a play off match, as we saw with the Super Rugby, and one of the four semi-finalists can go through to the final and cause a potential upset.
Right from the outset, I have two teams that I really like as contenders for finishing top of the log.
The Cheetahs are my favourites to finish at the peak. Their team looks the most settled of all and even with a few more Springbok call-ups than in the past, their backline especially looks potent in comparison to any other team. The loss of Heinrich Brussow does leave a hole on the side of the scrum, but in Lappies Labuschagne, Philip van der Walt and Boom Prinsloo, with Davon Raubenheimer on the bench, they have some star loose forwards. The only other team with such quality in the loose is the Sharks.
Which brings me to my other team that may well finish top. The Sharks have had a major shake up in all departments, and while it may take a while for change to reach all corners, I feel the squad is talented enough and has the right balance to really do well this year. The front row might not be as powerful as we like, but the loose forwards and the depth of their backline speak volumes. Brendan Venter is the man in charge and is sure to get the best out of the squad and the players will all be playing for a spot in his Super Rugby squad next year, proving themselves to the new headmaster.
While it is difficult to choose between the Cheetahs and my very own team, I have to give the benefit of the doubt to the Cheetahs, and their all round settled look.
The spots for the other two semi final spots will be a tight affair. Western Province is another team that can boast a fair amount of depth in key positions, and again the motivation would be strong for the players to show what they have after a disappointing Super Rugby campaign. There are stalwarts such as Gio Aplon, Deon Fourie and Steven Kitshoff which makes the team look hard to beat.
The Bulls might surprise all and sundry with their young team, based on the team they selected for the opening weekend, there is a lot of building and regrouping happening behind the scenes. This change and the sheer inexperience in a lot of key positions, along with an injury or two, could well keep the Bulls from securing a semi final spot. I doubt they will go down without a fight, and I might just give them the benefit of the doubt in sneaking the fourth spot on the log.
This brings me to the bottom two, which would be between the Lions and Griquas. Griquas managed to stay out of the promotion relegation match last year, the Cheetahs having to do battle with the Kings to stay in the Premier Division. This year though, we are likely to see Griquas having to battle it out with whoever finishes top of the First Division log.
The Lions will be driven by the fact that they have just secured a spot in the 2014 Super Rugby competition and can ill afford a drop to the lower echelon in South African Rugby. This will come down to the wire though, as it usually does in Currie Cup, and a mere bonus point here and there could well be the difference between an easy ride into next year, or a battle to the death with what looks likely to be the Pumas.
So, in summary, by predicted log:
Make your selections below, the winners will get beer on me at any Kings Park match in 2014.Tweet