De Beer's emotional Kimberley 'homecoming'
INTERVIEW: Marthinus Herbert de Beer will return ‘home’ on Saturday, when he runs out for the Pumas in the Currie Cup Final.
The Pretoria-born and schooled flyhalf called Kimberley his home before switching allegiances late last year.
On Saturday he will be pivotal to the Pumas’ first appearance in the competition’s showcase event.
Having arrived in Nelspruit in November, after a three-year stint in Kimberley, it will be an emotional moment for De Beer when he runs out at Griqua Park.
“In my three years in Kimberley we twice reached the semifinals, but could not advance to the Final,” he told @rugby365com, adding that it will be “emotional” to return to his former stomping ground.
“The smaller unions so often reach the semifinals, but never advance and now two smaller unions are in the Final – making it something very special.”
To add to the intrigue of the occasion, De Beer is very familiar with the bulk of the Griquas players.
It has been a rocky road for the 26-year-old, having played most of his 20-odd games for the Bulls off the bench.
That is the glue that bonded the Pumas this season, the determination to prove their detractors wrong.
“It is in the DNA of smaller unions,” he told @rugby365com, adding: “We knew we were the favourites, but we stuck together in the battles.
“We shed blood, sweat and tears together and came through on the other side.
“All the players had the same mindset – to keep fighting and get back in the contest, even when we were down.
“That strong bond is not always present at the bigger unions.”
The other aspect the two teams have in common – aside from their minnow status – is their unpredictability.
“Nobody can pinpoint exactly what the Pumas or Griquas are explicitly good at,” he told @rugby365com.
“We are reasonably good in all aspects of the game,” he said, adding that they won’t change anything for the Final.
“It would be silly to now change and play a more conservative game just because it is a Final.”
Both teams are also lethal on the counter-attack from turnover ball and De Beer is adamant they won’t rein in their natural instincts to play off-the-cuff.
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“That is what we thrive on,” he said of their natural instincts.
“It brought us to the Final and it would be silly to discard that now.
“While our mindset will be to win the game, overall we will stick to what has worked so far this year.”
With Griquas having the same instinctive mindset, it could make for a very unpredictable Final.
“I have trained with them a lot [in the three-year stint] and all of them also have the ability to go the full 80 minutes.
“They are also fighting for more lucrative contracts.
“We have two games this year n- which we lost against them – which is a point of reference and good lessons for us.”
The aspects he feels the Pumas need to improve on is limiting their ‘soft moments’ and improving their discipline.
“That is our biggest work-on,” De Beer said of the team’s spotty discipline – the most carded team in the competition.
“We all know the laws and we are not playing the game in the 1990s,” he said, adding: “If you go near the head or neck area there will be problems.
“Coach Jimmy [Stonehouse] speaks about it all the time, but it has to start with the players.
“He can talk all he likes, we are on the field and have to executive according to the laws.
“I cab hardly believe we are in the Final, given the number of cards we have had. But we are here now and if we fix that, we will give ourselves a real chance to lift the trophy.”
The Pumas don’t have any major injury concerns ahead of the Final, just a few minor niggles and chances are they will field an unchanged team from the semifinal win over the Cheetahs.