Armand’s sharp rise to final

2012-10-25 16:52

Cape Town - At the outset of the 2012 season, a starting berth in the Currie Cup final was a massively unlikely prospect for Don Armand, Western Province’s blindside flank for the showpiece against the Sharks at Mr Price Kings Park on Saturday.

His climb through the ranks over the past few months glowingly illustrates the way the Newlands-based franchise - despite their continued struggle to land a publicly-acceptable, genuinely “big ‘un” for the trophy cabinet - manage to stay strongly thereabouts at both Super Rugby and domestic level by filtering in fringe players at times of need and seeing many of them swim rather than sink.

It is at loose forward that both the Stormers and WP have been jinxed to an unprecedented extent this year as far as injuries are concerned.

Unavailable for selection for the Durban date with the heavily-fancied home side - who will start with an all-Springbok loose trio and another in Jean Deysel available for formidable oomph off the bench - are all of Schalk Burger, Siya Kolisi, Nick Koster, Nizaam Carr, Rynhardt Elstadt and Tyrone Holmes.

Quite obviously also behind Duane Vermeulen, the incumbent Bok No 8, in the Capetonian “loosie” pecking order, Zimbabwean-born Armand thus started 2012 perhaps as low as a seventh or eighth-choice on the list.

He was the sort of then-peripheral player the Stormers could field in stinking-hot late January, for instance (and they did) for a pre-season friendly against Boland at Wellington when several more senior troops were still deliberately held back from the early bump and grind for the murderous road ahead.

Armand, ironically a schoolboy product of KwaZulu-Natal-based Maritzburg College, ticked a few boxes even then ... but would still have been regarded as a very outside bet to be running out for the domestic showpiece wearing No 7 some nine months later.

It has required other peoples’ misfortune, to a great degree, for him to get to this juncture, but at the same time few could begrudge the 24-year-old his right to savour such a red-letter occasion.

The UCT man has been a yeoman contributor to the Province cause throughout the Currie Cup, whether stationed at No 4 lock or blindside flank, and all this despite going into the season without any prior first-class experience.

Coach Allister Coetzee concurred, in an interview with Sport24 during the lead-up to the final, that there is a feel-good element to Armand’s presence on Saturday.

“Yes, it definitely says something about him. It’s about grabbing opportunities; sometimes these things come about once and you have to grab them ... Don’s done that.

“So many other guys could have been there - Schalk, Siya, Rynhardt, Nizaam - but (in their absence) he’s made me look twice at him, look hard at him. He’s deserved every selection in this team during the year, and Saturday’s game is like a dream come true.

“He has a fantastic work ethic; that’s been a big factor, and it shows in his involvement in play.”

Coetzee says he appreciates the 1.91m, 112kg Armand’s versatility, and will not be in any hurry for him to specialise in either of the slots he has shown he can serve with some distinction.

“No, I am happy with where he’s at, the flexibility. The trend these days is that your seven should also be interchangeable as a No 4 lock ... the Danie Rossouw situation in the past and the case with someone like Rynhardt here at Newlands.

“It’s brilliant to have those kinds of players in your (pool).”

One of Armand’s best features in the Currie Cup has been his assertive lineout play; if Province are perhaps tipped to take some heat at scrum-time, in Armand, Eben Etzebeth, De Kock Steenkamp and Vermeulen they will be expected to counter that drawback by ensuring superiority in the other important set-piece.

“He’s learnt so much, and quickly,” says Coetzee. “Not just on his own ball but also defensively; he has a good overall sense of what’s going on in that phase of play.”

Still, the magnitude of Armand’s task in the final can hardly be under-estimated: his direct blindside rival will be Willem “Bone Collector” Alberts, a renowned, destructive international ball-carrier.

Yet like several fresh faces in the Province mix, he ought to take to the Kings Park turf with a nothing-to-lose mentality against the Sharks juggernaut ...



15. Louis Ludik 14. JP Pietersen 13. Paul Jordaan12. Tim Whitehead 11. Lwazi Mvovo 10. Patrick Lambie 9. Cobus Reinach 8. Keegan Daniel (captain) 7. Willem Alberts 6. Marcell Coetzee 5. Anton Bresler 4. Steven Sykes 3. Jannie du Plessis 2. Craig Burden 1. Tendai Mtawarira

Substitutes: 16. Kyle Cooper 17. Wiehahn Herbst 18. Jandre Marais 19. Jean Deysel 20. Charl McLeod 21. Meyer Bosman 22. Odwa Ndungane

Western Province:

15. Gio Aplon, 14. Gerhard van den Heever, 13. Juan de Jongh, 12. Damian de Allende, 11. Bryan Habana, 10. Demetri Catrakilis, 9. Nic Groom, 8. Duane Vermeulen, 7. Don Armand, 6. Deon Fourie (captain), 5. De Kock Steenkamp, 4. Eben Etzebeth, 3. Frans Malherbe, 2. Scarra Ntubeni, 1. Steven Kitshoff

Substitutes: 16. Deon Carstens, 17. Brok Harris, 18. Wilhelm van der Sluys, 19. Jebb Sinclair, 20. Louis Schreuder, 21. Marcel Brache, 22. Joe Pietersen

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing


  • riaan.ferreira.71 - 2012-10-25 17:07

    C'mon the Province. Hope the rain doesn't spoil what could be a real contest at the breakdown and also see the speedsters have a go at each other. Sharks are favourites. An early try either way will do wonders to open up the game. Can't say how good it is for SA rugby that the Bulls with their poor kick chase approach aren't in this final. Hope Heyneke get's the message loud and clear. But first let's see who can take the famous Cup on Saturday.

      sean.brady.14224 - 2012-10-25 17:25

      Interesting how many fans attack HM on these tactics. These same fans completely ignore the stats that show Australia and NZ kicked far more ball than the Boks did in the Championship earlier this year! As a Lions fan I believe that this game is the Sharks to lose, rather than Provinces to win.

      lean.sadie - 2012-10-25 17:36

      Sean it is not just the amount of kicking, but the quality. Our kicking has been bad most of the times. Is kicking apart of the game, yes, is kicking the ball way so you have no chance ot get it back a good thing? Hell no.

      seanread.crisp - 2012-10-26 09:25

      @Sean.Brady - The difference is that Aus and, more so, NZ kick for a specific purpose. SA teams kick when ever the fullback gets the ball even if he is not under any pressure and there is a chance to run - you will never see Dagg or Beale do that, they will only kick if they need to. The other nations kick for defensive reasons or maybe a chip kick/grubber for offensive reasons. SA kicked the ball for no good reason - it's like it's drilled into their brains.

  • pieter.thefuture - 2012-10-25 17:25

    don't know why no one is giving province a chance, they were still in the game in durbs till the last minute when they were down to 12 men. it took a 8 against 5 scrum to take the game away in the last min. with a little more discipline wp could have taken that. I know the boks are back, but still, it is 15 against 15, and in a one off, anything can happen.

      lean.sadie - 2012-10-25 17:37

      Its fine pieter, nothing will change the fact that whoever plays better will win. What everybody here says has no bearing on the game at all.

      ReneMuller.XOXO - 2012-10-25 17:38

      @pieter, some might agree with you (even though it is water under the bridge) BUT 'they were still in the game in durbs till the last minute....' - in all honesty, I don't think so, 43 - 27. 16 points were a huge difference in the context of that game. This is a new game, and in finals anything can happen. I doubt it will be a high scoring event - finals are normally tight and considering the weather, the Sharks might have the upper hand again!

      bootman.bokke - 2012-10-25 18:00

      I think pieter has a point. Take away the penalty try and the difference is only 9. In the context of the game, that isnt much...............but like you say, water under the bridge.

  • Nighthawk.Wild - 2012-10-25 18:14

    It is said : patience will be rewarded. So after all the long years to lift the cup, this is their time. Bul Groete

  • tmkolbe - 2012-10-25 19:26

    Go DON and go western province from all at Bishops

  • tmkolbe - 2012-10-25 19:28

    Go Don and western province from the guys at Bishops

  • richard.jeremy.79 - 2012-10-25 20:14

    The Sharks have picked their full strength side almost exactly the same as the one that beat Province at Newlands in the Super Rugby semi-final with the exception of Bismarck du Plessis,Frederic Michalak. Province goes into this final without Tiaan Liebenberg, Andries Bekker, Schalk Burger, Siya Kolisi, Dewaldt Duvenage, Peter Grant and Jean de Villiers.Having said that,the Sharks are the certain favorites to win on Saturday! As a Province supporter,it would take really something unbelievable and huge from us to beat the Sharks in their our backyard.But you never know hey! Looking ahead to the final its quite interesting to know that Province has seven players in our starting line-up for the final who were born in the 1990's and who are playing in the biggest game on South African Rugby calendar!And they have already made it to a Currie Cup final so how about that hey! With Province being in the under 21's and under 19's finals, we stand a great chance to end this weekend holding every single major trophy in South Africa.We've already won the (Super Rugby Conference Cup,Vodacom Cup) and if we win on Saturday then we can add the Currie Cup to that aswell.Really exciting times ahead for Western Province Rugby at the minute.Well done Allister Coetzee,John Dobson and Nazeem Adams. May the best team win on Saturday!!!!!!!

      newbornr - 2012-10-26 07:30

      Richard, You should look at it from this point of view: It is not the sharks rugby team vs a province rugby team its in fact 2 unions going head to head. The unions involve all the support staff, funding , coaching etc. Fine, the 22 on the respective team needs to go do the business between the white lines, but the fact that province have numerous injured players cant be used as an excuse. The unions should manage the injuries, player pools etc, that they can put the best 22 on the field when its needed.

  • jacques.dekock.50 - 2012-10-25 22:03

    Looking forward to the final. The head says "sharks" but the heart says "province". I would never have predicted so many youngsters in a final. Maybe these youngsters can surprise us all.

  • moses.govender.7 - 2012-10-26 07:13

    Rob Houwing maybe for a change your next article could be about the Sharks or one of their players. We in KZN are sick of your articles that last week gave exclusive coverage to the Bulls and this week you are back to your beloved WP\

      petrocornelia - 2012-10-26 07:44

      @moses.govender,7, I totally disagree with you, in every paper this week the sharks were well mentioned and supported, you are perhaps overseeing a bit?

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