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Currie Cup: All-Time XV

Pick the best Currie Cupo team of all time? It is a fun thing to do. It's also an impossible thing to do.

There probably is bias, but it seems that a national coach may not always be without bias.

I have given a list of those I see as candidates in each position and then made my choice. I have seen 13 of my 15 in action on the field. For the other two I have relied on the insistent voice of history, especially that of Oubaas Markötter.

I have set out to choose my best Currie Cup XV – not a team of Springbok all-stars and so there may be some raised eyebrows. I have given brief reasons for my choice, and heavens they are hard choices!

Oddly enough, it's harder for the modern star to get into a Currie Cup All-Star team because they do not play Currie Cup matches as often with the same impact.

Fullback

Stars:  Gerrie Brand, Nols van Heerden, HO de Villiers, Johan Heunis, Gysie Pienaar, André Joubert, Gio Aplon and – wait for it, for he's well on the way – Cheslin Kolbe

My choice: HO de Villiers, who changed the way the world played fullback – the swashbuckling, adventurous, skilled, strong, recklessly brave hero of the rugby field. People went to Newlands just to see HO play.

Right Wings

Stars: Bob Loubser, DO Williams, Otto van Niekerk, Jannie Engelbrecht, Ray Mordt, Agie Koch, Hermanus Potgieter, Tony Watson, JP Pietersen

My choice:  Agie Koch – so strong so fast, swerving stepping and doing it both ways. I once sat with several of his team-mates at the airport in Kimberley, picking our 'best-ever team' and they were unanimous that the best-ever wing of that time was Agie Koch, who never did become a Springbok.

Centres

In days not long ago, centres played left and right, not inside and outside. We have tried to accommodate the past to the present.

Stars: Japie Krige, Louis Babrow, John Gainsford, Ian Kirkpatrick, Peter Whipp, Danie Gerber, Michael du Plessis, Jaque Fourie, Jean de Villiers

My choice: John Gainsford, Michael du Plessis

It's heartrending not to choose Danie Gerber but in fact John Gainsford, big and forceful, captain of Western Province when they won the Currie Cup, had a bigger impact than an impact-full player in a team with little impact on the Currie Cup, not even a single final. And then we have picked a clever man on Gainsford's inside – a tough genius of great skill, strength and speed.

Left Wings

Stars: Freddie Turner, electric Billy Anderson, Mannetjies Roux, Gerrie Germishuys, Carel du Plessis, Chester Williams, Bryan Habana

My choice: The smooth, gliding Carel du Plessis, dabbing the ball down for a try.

Flyhalves

Stars: Bennie Osler, Hansie Brewis, Piet Visagie, who broke from a scrum and ran 40 yards to score a try against the All Blacks, Naas Botha, Henry Honiball

My choice: Naas Botha. The Currie Cup is there to be won and Naas was a winner. Just remember that day in the rain and hail at Ellis Park in 1987. Transvaal scored two tries, Northern Transvaal none but Naas, probably the best wet-weather player ever, kicked four penalties and four drops for 24 points. Naas could do it all – ran faster, catch and pass better and kick with length and accuracy. And he could tackle, too – if he needed to.

Scrumhalves

Stars: Pierre de Villiers, Danie Craven, Dawie de Villiers, Piet Uys, Divan Serfontein Joost van der Westhuizen, Fourie du Preez

My choice: Divan Serfontein who made such a wondrous contribution in Western Province's five in a row – alert, dedicated, speedy and a leader.

Eighthmen

Stars: André Macdonald, Hennie Muller, Doug Hopwood, Morné du Plessis, Gary Teichmann, Duane Vermeulen

My choice: Gary Teichmann – the honourable man who ushered in Natal's era of glory after playing wallflowers for so long.

Flanks

There was less talk in the past about openside and blindside, 6 and 7. I have just nominated flanks and picked two.

Stars: Stephen Fry, Basie van Wyk, Hugo van Zyl, Martin Pelser, Jan Ellis, Thys Lourens, Piet Greyling, Jan Boland Coetzee, Burger Geldenhuys,  Theuns Stofberg, Rob Louw, Ruben Kruger, André Venter, Juan Smith

My choice:  Theuns Stofberg and Thys Lourens.

When Stofberg played for the Free State, they won the Currie Cup, and the same goes for the Northern Transvaal and Western Province. Thys Lourens captained Northern Transvaal in the era of their greatness, forming a triumvirate with Naas and Buurman van Zyl, a man who never gave less than his very best.

Locks

Stars: Phil Nel, Mauritz van den Bergh with one leg shorter than the other, Johan Claassen, Salty du Rand, Jan Pickard, Avril Malan, Frik du Preez, Moaner van Heerden, Louis Moolman, Kevin de Klerk, Mark Andrews, Victor Matfield.

My choice: Frik du Preez and Jan Pickard.

Frik, the all-round genius wat gedrop, geplace en gescore het, and Jan Pickard, who had a massive impact on the Currie Cup, first as brave player and great leader and then as a president who wanted above all, the Currie Cup for his union.

Props:

Stars: Barry Heatlie,  Phil Mostert, Boy Louw, Chris Koch, Jaap Bekker, Mof Myburgh, Piet du Toit, Frans Erasmus, Henning van Aswegen, Os du Randt

My choice: Barry Heatlie and Boy Louw.

I did not see either of them play but Markötter believed that Heatlie – 'I played with him and against him,' – was the best all-round forward South Africa ever produced, still the youngest Springbok forward of all time. He played in 28 Currie Cup matches for Western Province between 1892 and 1904 and his side won every single one and won the Currie Cup every time.

Nobody played for Western Province with a greater passion than Boy Louw. Rugby was his life and most of that rugby was for Western Province as player, coach, selector and motivator. He could also play in any position in the scrum.

Hookers

Stars: Jan Lotz, Abie Malan, Uli Schmidt, John Smit, Bismarck du Plessis

The nature of the position has changed. They are still called hookers but do not hook as they did in olden times, trying to get the opponents' ball.

My choice: Jan Lotz who played for Transvaal on both sides of World War II, a rugged man who was a hooker and much more than a hooker.

Paul Dobson XV:

15 HO de Villiers

14 Agie Koch

13 John Gainsford

12 Michael du Plessis

11 Carel du Plessis

10 Naas Botha

9 Divan Serfontein

8 Gary Teichmann

7 Theuns Stofberg

6 Thys Lourens

5 Frik du Preez

4 Jan Pickard

3 Boy Louw

2 Jan Lotz

1 Barry Heatlie

No other Western Province captain has had so long a reign, no one as successful, for on each occasion when the Currie Cup was in competition Western Province won. He played in 28 Currie Cup matches for Western Province, never once on a losing side. Oubaas Markötter, the legendary Stellenbosch coach and national selector, who died in 1957, said of Barry Heatlie: "Heatlie – I am inclined to put him down as the best captain ever to lead a Springbok side."

@rugby365com

Picture credit: springbokrugby.webs.com

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