Johannesburg - Pumas coach Jimmy Stonehouse says hard work lies ahead for his team following their re-entry into the Currie Cup Premier Division with a 33-15 victory over Griquas in their promotion-relegation match in Nelspruit on Friday evening.
“One shouldn’t be under any illusions that it wasn’t the strongest Griquas team due to all the injuries,” Stonehouse said after the match.
“I am well aware that we will have to make the step-up…and we will need some extra players here and there.”
While it was bitter disappointment for Griquas, they could still be thrown a lifeline if the SA Rugby Union (Saru) reconsiders the proposal to expand the Currie Cup from six teams to eight next year.
The proposal was initially tabled at a Saru special general meeting last month but it decided against expansion.
It was believed that the proposal would again be tabled at a Saru meeting on December 5.
Griquas’ relegation to the First Division will have a significant impact on the Cheetahs Super Rugby franchise as the Northern Cape team had been a valuable contributor to the side.
Peacock Blues coach Pote Human said while he believed the Pumas deserved their place among the top-six teams in the country, there was also a case for Griquas to play top-flight rugby.
“All the credit must go to the Pumas but it is bad for Griquas, they deserve to play in the Premier Division and I really hope Saru will make the decision to allow eight teams in the competition,” said Human.
“It is going to be difficult to get sponsorships and to retain players, it is also bad for the region as we’ve attracted good players that also played for the Cheetahs.”
Stonehouse fortified his coaching credentials with his side winning 17 of their 18 matches including the promotion-relegation matches.
He said the province had all the potential to leave a mark on the Premier Division, while also believed they could even make a case for a franchise in Super Rugby.
“If people want to climb on board, this is the union where they will get the exposure -- people are afraid that you get promoted and you lose all your matches with their names on your jersey,” he said.
“But we can be successful and we can also get a franchise if we can win on a regular basis, although you will also need good money to be able to do that.”