As we build up to yet another Currie Cup final in which the Sharks are involved, their fourth in a row now, we look at the likely individuals to stand out in this match, and we can do this even before the team announcements.
Starting with the home team, the biggest talking point in this week has been the availability of Deon Fourie. Fourie is integral to Western Province’s success so far this season, leading the team with aplomb and being outstanding in the loose. There are even rumours doing the rounds that he will see Springbok action during the end of year tour as a result of his season. Should he play, and I really hope he does, he is sure to be the key forward for the home team.
Moving on to the backs, one would immediately think that Demetri Catrakilis is the key player. I agree that his play will influence the game significantly, but inside him lies the key. Louis Schreuder has really stepped up during this season and his service to the pivot will be key. If he is able to take pressure off the young flyhalf, it will make it so much easier for Catrakilis to play to his strengths.
Onto the away side, where the talking point has been Bismarck du Plessis and his sudden availability for this match. Whether we agree with his accidental stamping or not, the player is set to start in the final. His partners is crime will be what sets the Sharks pack alight, and should we see Jannie du Plessis in the team, a closer contest is expected at scrum time. A full Springbok front row, even though slightly off form for the Sharks in recent weeks, is the most important forward factor, as a solid scrum is key to front foot ball. This is especially important since Western Province made this same front row look like amateurs only a few weeks ago.
As for the backs, the combination between Charl McLeod and Pat Lambie will be similarly important to that of the home team. We have seen some great play from McLeod this season, but we have also been frustrated with his lack of thinking at times. It is of utmost importance for him to have a strong game. Lambie has hopefully worked on his kicking game, and will step up in this final, as he has done a few times before.
Another key element in this match will be the referee, Mr Jonathan Kaplan, who will be retiring after his final whistle. We can only hope that allows the game to flow a bit more and that tight calls are referred instead of getting it wrong. He has been in good form lately and we can only hope that continues.
The benches will be as significant, and the timing of their introduction into the match will be key. We have seen the Sharks winning matches as a result of the use of their bench, and we can only hope that the coaches once again get it right.
Looking ahead, it is sure to be an amazing match, whichever teams are selected. Seeing Schalk Burger take part in a Currie Cup final, after what he has been through, is an honour, and well need to take this in, as we may never see him play on South African soil again.
May the best team win…Tweet