Currie Cup

Pumas target Currie Cup playoff berth

2015-07-30 09:50
MJ Mentz (Gallo Images)

Pretoria - Last year they were the Cinderella side in the Currie Cup competition, this year the Pumas want to have a real stab at the silverware.

In his first year in charge of the Pumas, MJ Mentz believes his side can build on the success of last year.

“We met as a team and after we came so close last year we definitely want to finish in the top four to stake a claim for a semi-final berth,” Mentz said.

The Mpumalanga side made a fairytale start to their re-entry to the competition in 2014 as giant slayers with victories over the Sharks and the Free State Cheetahs.

The so-called minions looked set to reach the playoffs at the half-way point but they ran out of steam in the latter part of the competition to finish in a respectable sixth place.

“We would definitely like to have a good start like last year where we won four out of five of our first matches in the first round,” Mentz said.

“That put us in a position to reach a semi-final but unfortunately our wheels came off and we did some soul searching on why we experienced that collapse towards the end.”

Following their Vodacom Cup title victory earlier this year, Mentz felt bullish about his side’s chances of winning the coveted Currie Cup trophy.

 “The Vodacom Cup win has certainly given us a lot of confidence but we are well aware that the Currie Cup will be tougher prospect where we will face stronger opposition,” Mentz said.

“The confidence and continuity that we have from that competition will hopefully hold us in good stead.”

The Pumas will also be buoyed by victories in their friendly matches against Boland and Western Province in the past fortnight.

“We had good warm-up matches down in the Western Cape against Province and Boland where we experimented with a few things and gave some players opportunities to show what they had to offer,” Mentz said.

“We are quite happy with how it went other than winning the matches, it was more about how we played and ticking certain boxes.”

Mentz said the Pumas had taken valuable lessons from last year’s competition where their player depth had been stretched thin against the bigger unions.

Other than increasing their talent pool, the Pumas also opted for fewer warm-up matches to ensure the players performed at their optimum throughout the competition.

“We’ve made some changes to our conditioning model in terms of the players’ game time because they were fatigued,” he said.

“We only had a group of 28 players so this year it is about managing them and rely a bit more on our depth.

“This time last year we played more warm-up matches which caught up with us in the second half of the Currie Cup so we decided on only two this year and hopefully it works for us.”

The Pumas will be strengthened by the return of Super Rugby loan players Giant Mtyanda (Sharks), Corne Fourie (Lions), while Faf de Klerk and Vincent Koch could also join the team should they be released from the Springboks.

Read more on:    pumas  |  currie cup  |  mj mentz  |  nelspruit  |  rugby

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