Johannesburg - The effects of an humiliating 49-11 loss to the Lions will make Griquas an even tougher nut to crack when they take on the Pumas in an Absa Currie Cup match in Nelspruit on Friday, Pumas coach Jimmy Stonehouse said on Thursday.
“They (Griquas) will definitely be in an uncompromising mood after the loss so we are expecting it to be as physical as it always is when we face them,” said Stonehouse.
As one of the most consistent sides in the competition’s recent history, Griquas will be looking to repeat the performance which saw them record a draw in their opening match against Western Province, with every player desperate to make up for last week’s blunder.
With a consecutive hiding an unlikely outcome to proceedings at the pristine Mbombela Stadium, the rugby-hungry lowveld supporters can brace themselves for what should be a thrilling game of rugby.
Stonehouse said they had already circled this match as one of the toughest of the season, even before the Lions gave the men from Kimberley an early season wake-up call.
“Going into the competition, we knew that our matches against Griquas and the Leopards (next week) were going to be very difficult because they are also fighting to avoid the relegation zone,” said Stonehouse.
“Griquas have quality players throughout and we are well aware of the X-factor a player like Earl Rose brings to the table.”
Having come within inches of securing victories over the Lions (31-27) and Sharks (23-22), the men who would love to call Nelspruit their permanent home have all the confidence needed to finally get four log points as a reward for their efforts.
Stonehouse admitted their confidence had taken a slight knock when they lost star centre Pieter Engelbrecht, the former Springbok Sevens player, who fractured his ankle.
“Losing a guy like Pieter is a blow, but in the same breath it is pleasing that I could again show consistency in my other selections.”
15 MJ Mentz, 14 Deon Scholtz, 13 JW Jonker, 12 Tiaan Marx, 11 Shandre Frollick, 10 Coenie van Wyk, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Doppies le Roux, 7 Jaco Bouwer, 6 Corne Steenkamp (captain), 5 Marius Coetzer, 4 Boela Serfontein, 3 Ashley Buys, 2 Pellow van der Westhuizen, 1 Dawie Steyn
Substitutes: 16 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 17 De-Jay Terblanche, 18 Eduan van der Walt, 19 RW Kember, 20 Tian Meyer, 21 Johan Jackson, 22 Carl Bezuidenhout
15 Riaan Viljoen, 14 Richard Lawson, 13 Jean Stemmet, 12 Barry Geel, 11 Dusty Noble, 10 Earl Rose, 9 Marnus Hugo, 8 Jonathan Mokuena (captain), 7 Davon Raubenheimer, 6 Justin Downey, 5 Martin Muller, 4 Hendrik Roodt, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Ryno Barnes, 1 Steph Roberts
Substitutes: 16 Matthew Dobson, 17 Jean Botha, 18 Frikkie Spies, 19 Burger Schoeman, 20 Warren Malgas, 21 Matthew Rosslee, 22 Rudi Vogt
One of the main factors weighing heavily in favour of the Pumas is the way in which Nelspruit's residents have started to embrace their team.
Stonehouse said his men were already reaping the benefits of larger crowds at their matches.
“Every player wants to play in front of big crowds and the way in which the people of Nelspruit have embraced this team as their own is definitely having a positive effect on the players.”