Currie Cup

Pumas target Currie Cup semis

2014-07-25 18:30
Corné Steenkamp (Gallo Images)
Nelspruit - Pumas captain Corné Steenkamp says his players are ready for the Currie Cup Premier Division after a three-year absence.

The men from Nelspruit last played in the top tier of South African domestic rugby in 2011. After winning the Currie Cup First Division title last season, the Pumas earned automatic promotion to the tournament's new format, which will see the top eight unions compete across two pools.

The Pumas haven't been in regular competition since the Vodacom Cup, which ended in May, but Steenkamp explained that plans have been put in place to ensure they'll be sharp by the start of the campaign.

"We have been playing friendlies against the First Division teams that competed in the qualifying tournament," Steenkamp told the MyPlayers website.

"We also play against the Bulls next week, so we'll be well-prepared ahead of the Currie Cup.

"With seven new players in the squad, this has helped us to gel as a team and to test new combinations. There's also new energy, which is a great boost. It's been three years since we last played in the Premier Division, so the guys are very excited to be back and playing at the top level."

Steenkamp added that the Pumas are not only in the tournament to compete, but they will be looking to claim scalps against the so-called big unions.

"We'll be aiming to qualify for the semi-finals," he said. "As a team, we've had meetings to plan for the new tournament format. In order to achieve our goals, we have to start strong. If you start slow, you will have a slim chance of getting back into the running for the playoffs.

"Teams have also struggled to come to Nelspruit and win. We will be depending on our good form at home."

The Pumas will be boosted by the return of the players who featured in Super Rugby, like scrumhalf Faf de Klerk who was impressive for the Lions. Steenkamp said these players need to accept leadership responsibilities.

"We have a great mix of experience in the squad," said Steenkamp. "It's great that our guys have played in Super Rugby, and that will help us. They will need to lead the team."

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

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