Currie Cup

Smit plots Sharks revival

2013-08-08 07:43
John Smit (Gallo)

Johannesburg - Retired Springboks John Smit and Brendan Venter want to turn around the fortunes of the Sharks by winning the 2013 Currie Cup.

The oldest provincial championship in the world kicks off Friday with a Durban team that has fallen on hard times hosting minnows Griquas.

After reaching the 2012 Super Rugby final, the Sharks failed to even make the play-offs this season following a sustained mid-season slump.

They also lost the previous two Currie Cup finals, including a shock home defeat by Western Province at Kings Park last October.

New Zealand-born coach John Plumtree was fired by new chief executive Smit as the Super Rugby season drew to a close.

In his place came ex-Springboks centre Venter, widely regarded as one of the cleverest rugby union brains in the country.

Venter, Sean Everitt (backs) and Brad Macleod-Henderson (forwards) are the coaches Smit has entrusted to restore glory.

The Springbok legend won a record 111 caps before retiring when the title-holders bowed out in the 2011 World Cup quarter-finals.

And after showing his steel by sacking popular two-time Currie Cup winner Plumtree, Smit likes what he sees in the Currie Cup squad.

"I'm very happy - it is a great looking squad. We have put together a group of players designed to win the Currie Cup

"Hopefully, we will benefit from a well-balanced squad as older heads combined with 20 year olds."

His coaches are equally optimistic ahead of a 10-round league schedule with the top four finishers advancing to mid-October semi-finals.

"Sharks have a really good squad," boasted Venter, who previously coached London Irish and Saracens.

The Currie Cup runs parallel to the Rugby Championship with six Sharks called up for August Tests against Argentina in Soweto and Mendoza.

Sharks have lost their front row - Tendai 'The Beast' Mtawarira, Bismarck du Plessis and brother Jannie du Plessis - to the green and gold.

Loose forwards Willem Alberts and Marcell Coetzee and flyhalf Patrick Lambie are other Sharks in the national net.

So strength in depth is crucial as the Sharks, Bulls, Cheetahs, Golden Lions, Griquas and Western Province chase the 124-year-old trophy.

And it is no surprise Smit exudes confidence with the starting line-up against the Griquas boasting a number of former Springboks.

They include full-back Odwa Ndungane, left-wing Lwazi Mvovo, veteran flyhalf Butch James and No 8 and skipper Keegan Daniel.

Long-time Currie Cup competitor Ndungane, whose twin Akona plays on the wing for the Bulls, has been shifted from the right wing by Venter.

Although the Bulls proved the best South African Super Rugby side this year by reaching the semi-finals, they may struggle in the Currie Cup.

Centre Wynand Olivier, fly-half Morne Steyn, scrumhalf Jano Vermaak, hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle and lock Juandre Kruger have been lured to France by better salaries.

Loose forwards Dewald Potgieter and Jacques Potgieter are off to Japan for equally attractive pay packets and fullback Zane Kirchner has signed for Irish province Leinster.

Add a spate of injuries and only one starter in the Super Rugby home loss to the Australian Brumbies - lock Grant Hattingh - faces Province in Cape Town.

Title-holders Province have lost star wing Bryan Habana to France, and centres Jean de Villiers and Juan de Jongh, lock Eben Etzebeth and No 8 Duane Vermeulen to the Springboks.

But the likes of fullback Gio Aplon, flyhalf Gary van Aswegen, prop Steven Kitshoff, hooker Scarra Ntubeni and flank-cum-skipper Deon Fourie should ensure they are contenders.

Cheetahs exceeded expectations by reaching the Super Rugby playoffs and should do well as they are less affected by Rugby Championship call-ups.

The same applies to 2011 champions Lions, with lock Franco van der Merwe the lone inclusion in the national set-up from the Johannesburg outfit.

Read more on:    sharks  |  super 15  |  john smit  |  brendan venter  |  rugby


Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.
Live Video Streaming
  • Blitz
    Mon, 24 Nov 2014 @00:00
  • SS1
    Mon, 24 Nov 2014 @01:00
  • SS2
    Mon, 24 Nov 2014 @02:00
  • SS3
    Mon, 24 Nov 2014 @03:00
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

03 June 2016
EP Kings v Cell C Sharks XV, Durban 19:00
04 June 2016
Pumas v Xerox Golden Lions, Nelspruit 15:00
Griffons v Blue Bulls, Welkom 15:00
Griquas v Free State XV, Kimberley 17:05
Leopards v Western Province, Potchefstroom 19:00
10 June 2016
Blue Bulls v Cell C Sharks XV, Pretoria 19:00
SWD Eagles v Border Bulldogs, George 19:00
11 June 2016
Hino Valke v Windhoek Draught Welwitschias, Kempton Park 14:10
Xerox Golden Lions v Griquas, Johannesburg 15:00
16 June 2016
Border Bulldogs v Boland Cavaliers, East London 15:00
17 June 2016
Free State XV v Leopards, Bloemfontein 15:00
Blue Bulls v Hino Valke, Pretoria 17:00
Team P W PTS
Previous Results

Date Home Team Result Away Team

The new-look Currie Cup format for 2016 is,

Love 2 Meet
Sport24 on Twitter

Follow Sport24 news on Twitter


As the Absa Premiership nears the Christmas break, a little over half the season remains. Who will be crowned champions when all is said and done? Which teams will be relegated? Stay glued to Sport24 to find out!

Latest blogs

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.