Make the Currie Cup great again
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Springboks flyhalf Elton Jantjies has urged SA Rugby to pay more attention to the Currie Cup.
This season saw the Currie Cup, which dates back to 1891, reduced to a shortened, single-round format with seven teams in the Premier Division.
The format raised a lot of questions, however, SA Rugby was adamant that the 2018 format will draw in higher match attendances and higher average viewership.
In contrast, since the start of the season, the Currie Cup failed to bring in the crowds, with many blaming the lack of quality as the main reason for the mediocre status of the domestic competition.
However, Springboks flyhalf Jantjies, who last played Currie Cup in 2013, revealed that the quality of the league is far from diminished.
The 28-year-old also stated that playing in the premier domestic league should not be seen as a ‘formality’ for a Springbok.
“When you get the break where you hear you can play Currie Cup, it puts some extra energy into my life and my rugby career as well because it is something that I’ve always treasured in SA Rugby,” Jantjies told reporters.
“I’ve always believed we should give more attention to [the Currie Cup] because it is our main campaign, our main season in SA Rugby.
“I see Super Rugby as international rugby and then Currie Cup is good for us as locals.
“After a few years, I don’t think a lot has changed since my return to the Currie Cup, even the quality hasn’t gone down. Think the only thing that has changed is that in the past we’ve had older guys playing. Now you have younger players who are willing to go and make their mark in senior rugby building towards Super Rugby next year,” he added.
With Ross Cronje sidelined due to an injury, Jantjies is expected to start along with scrumhalf Nic Groom as the halfback combination for the semifinal against Sharks at Kings Park in Durban.
“Groom is a cool head, and he is very similar to Ross, calm guys who make the right decisions at the right times.
“I see Nick Groom and Ross Cronje as very similar, and he is a good team man, he is a team player and that is something we stand for here at the Lions, putting the team first. Especially when he came back from overseas, the first week he got into things and the group welcomed him and he is part of us now,”
The Golden Lions have not been in great form. The side recorded four wins from six fixtures and booked a play-off spot with a hard-fought 33-21 win over the Pumas.
This weekend will require them to produce an impressive performance against the inform the Sharks. Both sides will welcome back some Springboks, which gives Jantjies hope that his side has what it takes to advance to the final.
“We had a few losses and I watched the guys a lot, I saw the effort was always there but technically they weren’t that good.
“It is something that the guys were working hard on every week and learning from the coaches as well, especially as they have a lot of under-21 players.
“At least we have a few senior players back that know the system and they can feed off us and we can feed off their energy as well.
“We have experience but I’ve always said rugby fundamentals don’t change – you need to know when to pass when to kick. It is about winning your set-pieces, your line-outs and scrums, making sure you get the ball at the breakdown as well.
“We need that to play our attacking brand of rugby, and that is something that won’t change in rugby. Definitely, they [the Sharks] also have a few Springboks, and so do we and hopefully that will boost the team and then us as well.
“We can then have a very good semifinal on Saturday,”
By Leezil Hendricks