Johannesburg - It has slipped by almost unnoticed, but Griqualand West achieved a major milestone this week in terms of transformation ahead of their clash on Thursday night against the Cavaliers.
According to SuperSport's website, given the hotly debated topic in South African rugby, Griquas quietly named a side for the clash that has no less than 11 players of colour in their match day 22, far more than any of their northern counterparts could choose this season and has made them one of the leading sides in the country in this regard.
While the coach Peter Engledow will be the first to admit this wasn’t a planned thing as some of the changes were due to injury, the Kimberley union should be applauded for their effort to meet SARU’s transformation goals especially as there is normally a debate in the north about sourcing players for the provinces and this is often used as an excuse.
Griquas are currently lying fourth on the Currie Cup log and the match pits two of the top rising young coaches in the country against each other – with Engledow facing Brent Janse van Rensburg and a win will bolster the Griquas hopes of sneaking into the semifinals of the competition.
Engledow told supersport.com he was proud of the statistic, but it wasn’t something that was planned for.
“The focus has been to try and keep the side in tact, we want a bit of continuity and the only changes we’ve made have been due to injury. Steph Roberts and JW Jonker have been injured and are not available with Johnny Franck making a return,” he told supersport.com.
“We didn’t sit down and focus on it. I was in England for 11 years, I contract players on ability and performance. The team is picked on ability and we have had a few injuries, so one or two players have got opportunities in the past few weeks.
“We are obviously delighted for the squad and that is our focus. It isn’t something we think about.
“We try and contract players we feel can do a job for us and we are delighted the guys can get an opportunity to show what they can do.”
Griquas ironically have five ex-Boland players in their ranks for the match with former Free State tighthead prop Chase Morrison making his debut for the side on Thursday.
Engledow expects a big push from the Cavaliers in the first half.
“If you take into consideration the nine teams in the Currie Cup most teams would target Griquas for a win. We haven’t underestimated anyone in the competition and the same will go for Boland,” he added.
“We are very aware that they will come at us hard, especially in the first half, just like the EP Kings. We are a team that works very hard, we are very grounded and focus on one game at a time.
“That is an old cliché but we’ve learnt our lessons in the last two seasons. We want to put pride in the jersey and make sure our performance is good on the day.”
Griquas have been struggling without a sponsor this season and are hoping the performances in the Currie Cup will help them attract one.
Griquas: 15 AJ Coertzen (captain), 14 Ederies Arendse, 13
Johnathan Francke, 12 Clinton Swart, 11 Alshaun Bock, 10 Elgar Watts, 9
Poerie van Rooyen, 8 Jason Fraser, 7 Sias Koen, 6 Wendal Wehr, 5 Jono
Janse van Rensburg, 4 Wandile Putuma, 3 Chase Morison, 2 AJ le Roux, 1
Substitutes: 16 Marius Fourie, 17 Liam Hendricks, 18 Mzwanele Zito, 19 Thabo Mabuza, 20 Renier Botha, 21 André Swarts, 22 Eric Zana
Boland Cavaliers: 15 Theuns Kotze, 14 Sergio
Torrens, 13 Robbie Louw, 12 Christopher Bosch, 11 Danwel Demas, 10
Adriaan Carelse, 9 Marnus Hugo, 8 Jacques Engelbrecht, 7 Shaun McDonald,
6 Shaun Adendorff, 5 Joubert Horn, 4 Johannes Kitshoff, 3 Enoch Mnyaka,
2 Clemen Lewis (captain), 1 SP Wessels
Substitutes: 16 Francois Esterhuysen, 17 Basil Short,
18 Wayne Wilschut, 19 Zandré Jordaan, 20 Gerhard Jordaan, 21 Craig
Pheiffer, 22 Logan Basson
Read the story on SuperSport