Cape Town - Western Province scrumhalf Nic Groom says the defending champions will have no lack of desire when they face the Golden Lions in the Currie Cup final.
WP will head to Johannesburg to take on the unbeaten Golden Lions on Saturday (kick-off 13:45), as they look to defend their title for the first time since Corne Krige’s WP team went back to back in 2000/01.
Groom, 25, will be involved in his fourth Currie Cup Final in succession - having also tasted Vodacom Cup success in 2012 - and he is determined to make it count once again.
“Any double effort is a special achievement,” said Groom, when asked about his side’s chances of successfully defending their title.
“Perhaps teams do struggle (to defend their title) because they don’t have the desire - something which counts for plenty in a tight game! Desire certainly won’t be our problem this week… we’re hungry and have a real desire to emulate some great Province teams from before.
“We’ve spoken about what it means to go back to back, but it’s not (just) about going back to back in terms of titles and wins but following up with what we do on the field and off the field.
“It’s a very personal drive. Not a lot of people can be the best in the country two years in a row in many things - never mind the toughest domestic competition in world rugby. So, for us a group, that desire… you know, I think we want to leave a legacy of our time at Province and if you want to do something special then going back to back is almost a necessity.”
Groom has amassed 68 caps for WP since his debut in 2011 and he explained further: “Playing for Western Province comes with its privileges, but also with its standards. We all knew about the hoops of Western Province before the Stormers (came into existence) and I think a lot of supporters have the same memories and love for the blue and white hoops.
“Representing Province and getting a chance to play a good and exciting brand of rugby in a great tournament like the Currie Cup… I couldn’t think of anything better for a young rugby player,” he added.
“We play for WP wanting to win the Currie Cup. The Disa means a lot to us and the people of Cape Town, but whenever we go to Johannesburg - and you could see it in Pretoria last weekend - there’s a huge base of fans, all of whom we can hear and appreciate. It’s a big deal for us and helps motivate us.”
However, standing in their way this Saturday is the table-topping and unbeaten Golden Lions outfit and WP are aware of the massive challenge of playing against the form team on their own turf.
Groom told the WP Rugby website: “The Lions have sort of had the same side without many players coming or going for the last three years now and they play a slick running and passing game… I think they are leading the way in a lot of respects there.
“They’re also well motivated and super fired up and (are) almost double the intensity when they play in Johannesburg, so that’s a big challenge for us and something we didn’t deal with the last time we went there (to Ellis Park).
“They are a passionate group who take a lot of pride from playing at home where they deserve to be playing at the moment,” added Groom. “They have been the best team in the competition thus far, but at this stage it’s an uncontrollable, really, where we play.”
Of course, the last time WP played in Johannesburg they suffered a 32-62 defeat at the hands of the Lions, but Groom believes WP’s resilience will count for something come the weekend.
“I don’t think we would be here if we couldn’t,” he said, “(and) I think our turnaround in the semi-final away from home (last week), after losing by 30 points two weeks before, showed this group’s resilience.
“Nothing great ever happens in ideal circumstances, so we will take a lot of heart from that.
“To become successful you need to learn from every single outing… It was a horror game for us where nothing went right for us and the only thing we took from it was lessons - plenty of lessons!”
The Western Province team will be announced by lunch-time on Thursday.