Johannesburg – With the exception of a few personnel changes little separates the Golden Lions and Western Province for their Currie Cup clash at Ellis Park in Johannesburg on Saturday afternoon.
While the Golden Lions coach Johan Ackermann did not see a major difference between the Province class of 2014 and this year’s team, he believed Demetri Catrakilis’ absence was noticeable.
“Obviously Demetri Catrakilis makes a difference a normally doesn’t miss a kick, he can keep the scoreboard ticking over,” Ackermann said.
“They will always be strong in their set phases, they will always have exciting backs so I think they are quite similar to last year.
“It will depend on with what game plan they come to us. Will they change something, will they run it or will they kick it?”
Catrakilis was influential in last year’s final at Newlands where he slotted four penalties and a conversion kick.
His opposite number Marnitz Boshoff in turn failed with a match-winning attempt at goal at the death which saw Western Province clinch the title with a 19-16 victory.
Catrakilis will have no say in this year’s final after he was granted an early release from his contract to join French Top 14 club, Montpellier last month.
Western Province coach John Dobson has placed his faith in the 22-year-old flyhalf Robert du Preez in the last six matches and he could be thrust into the limelight in his first Currie Cup final.
Ackermann said although he had lost some experienced campaigners since last year’s final, his side did have a more mature look about them.
“We had a few guys like Derick Minnie that perhaps had a bit more experience but we still have guys like Jaco Kriel, Marnitz Boshoff and Warren Whiteley,” he said.
“It is a bit of a mix, but it is going to be a big challenge to the youngsters like Lourens Erasmus.
“We might be a bit more mature and we are happy with the group we’ve got. It will be a great day for them and they must just enjoy it.”