Super Rugby finalist meets a chef, Willie faces ‘Evan Roos’: 5 key Currie Cup final duels

Corne Fourie. (Photo by Steve Haag/Gallo Images)

Corne Fourie. (Photo by Steve Haag/Gallo Images)

  • A stocky, small(ish) tighthead fronting up against a veteran of two Super Rugby finals and a stint in the English Premiership.
  • Two immense duels at loose forward and the battle of a rookie skipper against the Currie Cup’s most devastating attacker.
  • Saturday’s Currie Cup final between Griquas and the Pumas in Kimberley has no shortage of intriguing duels that will illuminate what is widely considered a Cinderella showpiece.

Gnarled veteran against the rapidly-improving upstart.

A breakdown hare facing an imposing enforcer on the openside.

A new Stormer versus Kimberley’s “Evan Roos”.

Saturday’s Currie Cup final between Griquas and the Pumas in Kimberley has no shortage of intriguing duels that will illuminate what is widely considered a Cinderella showpiece.

Sport24 highlights those match-ups.

Teams:

Griquas

15 George Whitehead, 14 Munier Hartzenberg, 13 Sango Xamlashe (captain), 12 Rynhardt Jonker, 11 Luther Obi, 10 Zander du Plessis, 9 Stefan Ungerer, 8 Siba Qoma, 7 Hanru Sirgel, 6 Werner Gouws, 5 Derik Pretorius, 4 Cameron Lindsay, 3 Janu Botha, 2 Janco Uys, 1 Kudzwai Dube

Substitutes: 16 Simon Westraadt, 17 Eddie Davids, 18 Andries Schutte, 19 Johan Retief, 20 Michael Amiras, 21 Johan Mulder, 22 Fiela Boshoff , 23 Chris Hollis

Pumas

15 Devon Williams, 14 Tapiwa Mafura, 13 Sebastian de Klerk, 12 Eddie Fouche, 11 Jade Stighling, 10 Tinus de Beer, 9 Chriswill September, 8 Andre Fouche, 7 Willie Engelbrecht (captain), 6 Daniel Maartens, 5 Shane Kirkwood, 4 Deon Slabbert, 3 Ig Prinsloo, 2 Eduan Swart, 1 Corne Fourie

Substitutes: 16 Llewellyn Classen, 17 Dewald Maritz, 18 Simon Raw, 19 Kwanda Dimaza, 20 Francois Kleinhans, 21 Giovan Snyman, 22 Ali Mgijima, 23 Alwayno Visagie

JANU BOTHA v CORNE FOURIE

As recently as two years ago, Janu Botha has given up on rugby and decided to become a professional chef.

The pandemic prompted him to make a return as his Griquas mentor Pieter Bergh, then his Ixias coach, inspired a comeback.

Stocky but powerful, the 25-year-old Botha reminds one of former Lions and Springbok tighthead Julian Redelinghuys, an exponent who can easily be labelled too small for the No 3 jersey.

But he’s been excellent, benefitting from Bergh’s famed patience that allowed him to grow.

To date, Botha has hit back everything thrown at him with disdain.

However, in the wily 33-year-old Corne Fourie he faces a scrum foe at loosehead who played two Super Rugby finals as well as faced the hard knocks of the English Premiership.

The loyal Lowvelder has proved an inspired returnee for Pumas coach Jimmy Stonehouse and has reminded all of his value as a fine No 1, especially after relatively unproductive experiment at hooker for a few seasons.

WERNER GOUWS v DANIEL MAARTENS

Bergh admits that the loss of regular skipper Niel Otto perhaps leaves Griquas vulnerable at the breakdowns, where the nimble Daniel Maartens is a pesky yet dangerous presence.

Maartens, who’ll be back in Bloemfontein from next season, has been excellent for the Pumas after his return to Nelspruit, where his family have left their mark for decades in the community.

He’s been compared to Heinrich Brussow and on his day is as devastating with his poaching and tackle as the former Springbok.

In contrast, Gouws is a recent arrival from Loftus and possesses all the hallmark traits of a powerful blindsider.

It’s unlikely the 22-year-old will be beaten for pace by Maartens, it will just be about knocking him off his perch when he’s ready to pounce.

A classic battle of wits awaits.

HANRU SIRGEL v WILLIE ENGELBRECHT

STELLENBOSCH, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 03: Hanru Sirgel
There are some in Pretoria who still bemoan Hanru Sirgel, a consistently outstanding presence for Tuks in the Varsity Cup, having to leave Loftus because the myriad excellent loose forwards at the union.

The 24-year-old has, unsurprisingly, been one of the stars of Griquas’ campaign.

He does it all.

He fetches, he’s a solid line-out option, he defends with vigour and accuracy and, eye-catchingly, he carries the ball with such devastating effect that Bergh gleefully labels him Kimberley’s Evan Roos.

His direct opponent, ironically, will the Stormers talisman’s newest team-mate in the URC from next season.

Willie Engelbrecht has been the unsung heroes of the local game, a dedicated and skilful servant who’s provided much-needed class to a Pumas outfit hamstrung by substantial personnel changes yearly.

The 29-year-old is a bruiser, a relentlessly physical player always leading from the front.

He’ll be keen to show why the Stormers – after a decent loan stint last year – where keen to acquire him permanently.

ZANDER DU PLESSIS v TINUS DE BEER

KIMBERLEY, SOUTH AFRICA - FEBRUARY 18: Alex-Zander
Mere months after emerging as a cult hero for Tuks in their 2021 Varsity Cup title win, Zander du Plessis has enjoyed a similar status in Kimberley.

A lanky fullback initially with an unerring boot, the 22-year-old left the relative comforts of the No 15 position to get closer to the action, first at inside centre and now at flyhalf.

He’s handled the change with aplomb, improving dis decision-making weekly while maintaining his excellence defensive output, another reason why he’s been move to a busier channel.

With the experienced George Whitehead behind him to provide goal-kicking support, Du Plessis should have the freedom to just express himself.

Meanwhile, Tinus de Beer was also considered a prodigy for Tuks, only to find that it’s not always easy to conjure up his easy-looking game-management style consistently at senior level.

But Stonehouse has laudably kept faith in the blonde-haired pivot – unlike many of this previous coaches – and has been rewarded with De Beer producing his most consistent form at provincial level ever.

Notably, the 26-year-old has made doing the basics well a priority and is now dictating games in a manner similar to Chris Smith at the Bulls, un-flashy in general but mightily effective.

SANGO XAMLASHE v SEBASTIAN DE KLERK

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - MARCH 23: Sebastian de K

A sturdy presence in midfield, Sango Xamlashe has the added responsibility of having to now marshal the Griquas troops in Otto’s absence.

It’s a pretty daunting task for a 23-year-old who’s just started to truly stamp his authority at this level yet one that one can also safely assume he’ll handle effectively.

Xamlashe revelled as skipper of Tuks’ 2021 Varsity Cup-winning vintage, suggesting he’s one of those players whom raises their game when given extra responsibility.

Staring him down is Sebastian de Klerk, arguably the most devastating backline player in this campaign.

De Klerk has been everywhere, pulling off crunching tackles, poaching AND creating tries seemingly at will and, perhaps most importantly, constantly looking for work.

Stonehouse raves about this 23-year-old.

It hasn’t been difficult to see why.

Kick-off is at 15:00.