Cape Town - Flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis was a shining light for Western Province in their heavy defeat to English club Saracens in London on Sunday.
The Currie Cup champions produced a lacklustre performance, conceding six tries in a 46-22 defeat at Allianz Park.
WP's performance was typical of a team at the end of a long, hard season. Gone was the intensity they displayed in beating a Golden Lions in the Currie Cup final just a few weeks prior as Saracens easily poked holes in the normally resolute WP defensive line.
But the lethargic performance aside, it was only a friendly game and coach Allister Coetzee will be happy his side emerged from the clash unscathed on the injury front.
Coetzee should also be chuffed with the performance of Catrakilis, who on Sunday displayed his ability as an attacking flyhalf. Catrakilis has copped a fair bit if criticism for being predominantly a kicking flyhalf, but he proved his doubters wrong on Allianz Park's artificial surface.
Catrakilis scored two of WP's three tries in a personal haul of 15 points. During both scores, Catrakilis showed his ability with ball in hand as he evaded the Saracens defenders. His first try came after a brilliant dummy which saw him evade opposite number and former England flyhalf, Charlie Hodgson, to dart over near the corner. His second try came after WP ran the ball from their own 22m line. Captain Juan de Jongh made a powerful sprint down the touchline, before off-loading to flank Michael Rhodes, who passed inside to Catrakilis, who ran a great line to round off despite the best defensive efforts of former WP scrumhalf Neil de Kock.
Catrakilis's attacking nous has certainly improved this season in a WP team who have dazzled with their attacking approach in Currie Cup. He was still the Currie Cup's most consistent goal-kicker but has added an attacking dimension to his game - his quick off-load to set up Jaco Taute's try in the Currie Cup final another example.
So who needs to take credit for the improvements shown in Catrakilis's attacking game?
Coetzee last week spoke about the "massive influence" the whole WP management team have had on the team's fortunes this year. He was reluctant to single out individuals, but did have a special mention for backline coach Robbie Fleck's role in helping WP improve their attacking game.
"I must say it's a massive influence from the whole management team. Everyone plays their part, and that's what's so good about this management team. You're here to add value. And they've added great value," Coetzee told Sport24 during a media briefing at WP's High Performance Centre in Bellville last week.
"Our attack has been phenomenal this year. And no-one writes about how well Fleckie has been doing with the backs... I just think contributions made by management, everyone, have been unbelievable.”
After Sunday's performance, there's no doubt Catrakilis would have caught the eye of several scouts, mostly notable a few from the Northern Hemisphere.
Coetzee also spoke of that 'threat' last week.
"Actually, it’s not a good thing to say. But I hope all our players are tied up (with contracts) because Northern (Hemisphere) teams will look at the players. And the pound is always something which can lure players. So that’s the other side of the coin. There are clubs that will be watching and if they pick up a player or two, they will surely make an offer. But I think we should be fine in that regard," said Coetzee.
With Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer not showing much interest in Catrakilis, big money offers from abroad could lure the flyhalf away in future, something Western Province would be keen to avoid...