Johannesburg - Successfully maneuvering the qualifier competition to earn a Currie Cup Premier Division berth, Griquas will start their campaign battle hardened but also slightly bruised.
The Northern Cape side will go into this year’s Currie Cup competition already with six matches behind them while the other seven teams have recently completed their pre-season preparations.
Griquas coach Hawies Fourie said his charges were in the peculiar position of having to be at their best in three competitions throughout the year.
"We played in that qualifying competition, so we’ve given the guys a break and on Monday we will start again with our preparations for Friday’s Currie Cup match against Western Province," Fourie said.
"It is quite difficult, Griquas has to peak three times a year which is not always possible. We wanted to do well in the Vodacom Cup, then we had to qualify for the Currie Cup and now we want to do well in the Currie Cup.
"It is not really possible to get it right three times in a season, there is no break between Vodacom Cup and the qualifying matches then we only have this week open between the two competitions."
It is the second year that Griquas had to earn their Currie Cup spot via the qualifier competition as the current format ensures the six anchor unions in South African rugby places in the Premier Division.
Griquas could only muster three victories from their 10 matches last year finishing the competition in second last place ahead of the EP Kings.
Should the Currie Cup be expanded to include all 14 provinces, Griquas will have less pressure to fight for survival.
"The pressure in the qualifier competition is almost more than in the Currie Cup because Griquas cannot afford not to play in the Currie Cup," Fourie said.
"We have a good team with six players that played super Rugby this year.
"If they remain injury free I am confident that we would be able to do well this season."
Griquas have been further boosted by the release of South African Sevens players Ruhan Nel and Sandile Ngcobo, who will strengthen their centre stocks.
"You usually get a lot of injuries as is the case at the moment then you go into the Currie Cup with a weakened side," Fourie said.
Fourie expects a closer affair in this year’s Currie Cup as some of the bigger unions will not have access to their Springboks due to the Rugby World Cup.
"The Lions are certainly the favourites going into the Currie Cup with a Super Rugby team whereas the other big teams have lost players to the Springboks or overseas teams," he said.
"It levels the playing field so I believe the Pumas will do well this year. They won the Vodacom Cup with a very good team while a few players that played Super Rugby will return.
"They will be very competitive and I think the playing field will be further levelled because it is a World Cup year and the top players will be out for the duration of the competition."