Heyneke on Currie Cup alert
Cape Town - The Currie Cup may be increasingly marginalised on the packed rugby schedule in South Africa, but this year’s event has already received a boost in relevance terms from Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer
The Premier Division of the tradition-steeped competition gets underway this weekend and, happily for its participants and all those who still hold it dear, it coincides with vacancies gradually cropping up in the Bok squad through injury.
Many of them are legacies of another brutal Super Rugby campaign, and with the Boks about to swing into action for several weeks once more in the Castle Rugby Championship, early form by individuals in the domestic competition could see some fast-tracking into the national set-up.
Asked at a press briefing here this week how closely he would be monitoring the Currie Cup, Bok mastermind Meyer said: “I will definitely (be watching it) ... it’s still a tough competition.
“The selectors have been instructed to look at the Currie Cup so we know who the next players are (for South Africa).”
Meyer will be fully aware that the competition - now featuring only six teams rather than last year’s eight, giving it a better strength-versus-strength feel - continues to have a healthy habit of churning out new contenders for the Boks.
The Sharks’ Marcell Coetzee
, Western Province’s Siya Kolisi and the currently injured flyhalf Johan Goosen of the Cheetahs are just a few names to have burst to prominence in the 2011 Currie Cup (won by the Lions), with the first-named two now in the international picture and Coetzee, especially, already laying massively strong claims to a regular berth.
But Meyer, no doubt buoyed by the Baby Boks’ success in winning the latest IRB Junior World Championship, also stressed that he could be partial to under-21 players, especially of the backline variety.
“There’s a fine balance between winning every single Test and also planning for the long term, so there are a lot of young players I’ve known since they were 16, and who have played in the under-20 World Cup, who are also potentially close to the (Bok) team.”
The Currie Cup runs until October 27, when the final is staged - two weeks before the Boks round off their international season with the first of three end-of-year Tests, against Ireland in Dublin.
Currie Cup Premier Division first-round fixtures (home teams first): Blue Bulls v Griquas, Friday 19:10; Lions v Cheetahs, Saturday 17:05; Western Province v Sharks, Saturday 19:10.
*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing