To overwhelming public approval, I have little doubt, the
indefatigable Nick Mallett – backed by input from Naas Botha and Ashwin
Willemse -- will again be the prime studio pundit for SuperSport’s presentation
of the Currie Cup final at Newlands on Saturday.
Not even Naas’s cheeky attempts last week to pigeonhole
Mallett as Western Province-partial (heck, everyone has their provincial
affiliation, and Mallett was No 8 during a 1980s WP heyday) will subdue his instinctive
honesty and blunt opinion for the showpiece against the Sharks, I am just as
So it may come as a bit of a shock to learn that a former
counterpart as Springbok coach, Andre Markgraaff, doesn’t believe his old
Currie Cup-winning colleague belongs in the television world.
But it doesn’t have anything to do with reservations about
his TV role: Markgraaff simply believes Mallett’s talents are wasted there.
“Nick is just 56 (he turns 57 next Wednesday – Sport24) and
should be in the prime of his coaching life right now,” he is quoted as saying
in seasoned rugby scribe Gavin Rich’s new book “The Poisoned Chalice – The rise
and fall of the post-isolation Springbok coaches.”
Published by Zebra Press this month, it is available for
R220 at various bookstores.
Markgraaff, who like many recent Bok coaches sailed through
various storms in his tenure, added: “(Mallett) was very young when he started;
he was just 39 when he served as my assistant coach. You haven’t learnt life’s
lessons (by then).
“I think the Springbok coaches have generally been too young
– I’m a lot wiser now than when I was coach.”
Author Rich himself maintains: “There are too many South
African coaches who are in their prime, or approaching it, but have given up on
coaching after the system has chewed them up and spat them out ... Mallett is
far from the only one to whom this has happened.”
I imagine there will be a well-subscribed school of
agreement on that score, although at the same time, Mallett indicated very
recently in an interview with Tank Lanning used on Sport24 that he was content
for the time being in his TV analysis role.
“The pressure of coaching gets very stressful ... when you
get a bit older and you’ve paid off your bond, you don’t need that hassle anymore!”
*Matthew Pearce and Bob Skinstad (the latter both Sharks and
WP once, don’t forget) handle live English commentary on the final on
Rob’s Awesome Foursome
1 Western Province v Sharks, Currie Cup rugby final, Cape Town, Saturday 17:30, M-Net, SS1, SHD
The Cape Town stationing of our website makes plenty of wags inevitably brand us “WP24” or “Stormers24” and ... well, we just have to take the blows on the chin.
So it may come as a surprise to Sharks-leaning readers that yours truly has a hunch about the showpiece, and that hunch is that the side from KwaZulu-Natal are going to spoil Province’s quest to retain the crown late on in a nail-biter.
There is an “only if” proviso to my thinking: it is only if the various Sharks heavyweights who got fitness green lights towards the end of the lead-up week are indeed fully ready to give a thunderous 80 (or at the very least 60) minutes to the cause.
But if a couple of them turn out to be high-risk passengers, that could be WP’s cue to strike for the title again. I don’t see much more than three or four points in it, either way.
2 Kaizer Chiefs v Orlando Pirates, PSL soccer, Johannesburg, Saturday 15:30, SABC1, SS4, SHD4
It’s a football weekend peppered with prestigious derbies across the globe, so I am obviously just a little miffed as a staunch Newcastle man that the Wear-Tyne clash at the Stadium of Light on Sunday gets rather lost in their midst for significance!
Domestically the first Soweto derby of the league season takes place at FNB Stadium – a game hard to pick because of the lopsided table at present, as Pirates have only played two fixtures due to their heroic CAF Champions League commitments and fairly understandably lie bottom.
The Amakhosi, without quite setting the world alight yet, are in fourth with 11 points from six starts thus far and only three points off leaders Sundowns, who have a night kick-off away to embattled Polokwane City.
3 Pakistan v South Africa, 2nd cricket Test, Dubai, to Sunday 08:00, SS2, SHD2, CSN
Such has been the Proteas’ bullying mastery of the first two days’ play that smart money suggests it is only a matter of time before Pakistan are put out of their misery and the series is shared at 1-1.
Still, we all know it’s a funny old game. When will South Africa declare their Graeme Smith and AB de Villiers-dominated first knock?
It’s a tricky one because while the temptation to only make the Pakistani bowlers and fielders more and more footsore will remain, this venue tends to also offer some aid to otherwise hard-pressed quickies in the first hour or so – something to interest Dale Steyn and company.
Regardless of when the bell rings, or the visitors are bowled out, Misbah-ul-Haq’s side are going to have to bat out of their skins to rescue the contest!
4 Chelsea v Manchester City, English Premiership soccer, London, Sunday 18:00, SS3, SHD3, Maximo
Just a reminder for La Liga fans, as if they even needed it, that it’s El Clasico time: Barcelona v Real Madrid from 18:00 on Saturday at the Camp Nou (SS3, SHD3).
But the pick of the weekend’s activity in the ever-popular English Premiership is this all-Blues clash on Sunday evening between Chelsea and Manchester City at Stamford Bridge – don’t forget that the clocks will have changed a few hours earlier meaning all games from England screened live in South Africa for the next few months now kick off two hours later than the scheduled UK time, rather than one.
Zzzz, not ideal for mid-weekers, I know!
Chelsea lie second and City fourth; many would be reluctant to depart from “draw” in forecast terms ... and I guess I’ll stick with the pack.
*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing