As a player Robert du Preez was ultra-competitve, as a coach he is possibly more so, and on the eve of the Currie Cup final between the Sharks and Western Province, the 54-year-old refreshingly cut through the hype and hot air that will always accompany a major sporting event.

How are the Sharks are going to play? Have they anything special up their sleeves for a Province team that caught them off guard three weeks ago in Durban? Do the Sharks kick too much (they kicked more than any other team in three months of pool play)?

The taciturn coach mustered a wry grin before explaining how it will be for the Sharks: “Look too much is made of ball-in-hand rugby (or any particular brand). We want to play winning rugby. If that means we have to kick the ball a lot, we will do that.

“This year we have played to our strengths, which is our pack of forwards. Having said that, our backs have on many occasions done well for us with ball in hand. So we can do both, and it comes down to what the situation requires,” Du Preez said forthrightly.

In short, Du Preez does not want to have a pigeon-holed style of play.

“We want to build a way of playing that suits the Sharks and it does not happen overnight.

“We are not a New Zealand rugby team, we are a South African team, and we want to play a South African brand of rugby.”

Du Preez’s Sharks have led the Currie Cup from the front this season, evolving their way of playing, and it has come down to the same key elements. Uncompromising forward play and winning the gain line battle to provide the backs with opportunities to play what is in front of them — be that flyhalf Curwin Bosch spreading the ball or probing for territory with the boot.

And when without the ball, the Sharks have been brutal on defence.

How the Sharks play is not rocket science and if Province are to stop them at Kings Park, they know their forwards are going to have to trade blows in the frontline trenches. There will be no short cuts.

The Capetonians understand this full well from what transpired in the 80s minutes of their recent win in Durban. That match summed up the Sharks. For 30 minutes, when the Sharks were at full throttle, they steamrolled the opposition.

After the match, Province coach John Dobson admitted that he thought his side were goners given how the Sharks dominated that half an hour. But then the Sharks took their foot off the pedal. Suddenly the opposition could play, and they certainly did, spearheaded by flyhalf Robert du Preez jnr, who brilliantly made the most of the unexpected front-foot ball coming his way.

But the Sharks will not be as charitable in a final. Once bitten twice shy. They have come a long way this season to throw it away now.

That WP win was possibly the best thing that could have happened to the Sharks because it laid bare their strengths and weaknesses, and empathised the ruthlessness and efficiency that is required to be a champion team.

“Three months of hard work comes down to one game. There is nothing more we can do now,” Du Preez said philosophically. “We could not have worked harder than we have. I am incredibly proud of the players. Now it is about being calm and composed, and expressing ourselves as we have done all season.”

*** Du Preez has made one change to his squad for the final. Injured wing Sbu Nkosi is replaced by Odwa Ndungane and the latter’s place on the bench is taken by Rhyno Smith.

Sharks – 15 Garth April, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Marius Louw, 11 Odwa Ndungane, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Jean-Luc du Preez, 6 Keegan Daniel, 5 Ruan Botha (c), 4 Tyler Paul, 3 Ross Geldenhuys, 2 Franco Marais, 1 Thomas du Toit.

Subs: 16 Akker van der Merwe, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 John-Hubert Meyer, 19 Jean Droste, 20 Jacques Vermeulen, 21 Michael Claassens, 22 Tristan Blewett, 23 Rhyno Smith.

Curwin Bosch flyhalf for the Sharks -Pic Steve Haag

Western Province – 15 Damian Willemse, 14 Seabelo Senatla, 13 Ruhan Nel, 12 Huw Jones, 11 Dillyn Leyds, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Cobus Wiese, 6 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 5 JD Schickerling, 4 Chris van Zyl (c), 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg.

Subs: 16 Ramone Samuels, 17 Ali Vermaak, 18 Frans van Wyk, 19 Jan de Klerk, 20 Kobus van Dyk, 21 Jano Vermaak, 22 Werner Kok, 23 Dan Kriel.

Kick-off: 4pm

Referee: Jaco Peyper

Assistant Referees: Egon Seconds & AJ Jacobs

TMO: Marius Jonker

BY Mike Greenaway

Helen Zille the Sports fan 101 on HEART 104.9FM today with Norman Arendse

Interesting guests Norman Arendse and Helen Zille. today on the couch on HEART 104.9FM TODAY from 8-9am

this is a top preview on currie cup final read it please

This is a top preview regarding the Currie cup final by Mike Greenaway and I will be discussing this in detail with my great mate Egon Seconds on Saturday morning on Heart 104.9fm on our show called on the couch from 8 -9am. Egon in fact played in the last final WP appeared in in 2001,so tune in on Sat morning and listen to Tapfuma, Martin and Flapper with guest Egon Seconds as we discuss the final.

pic credit WP rugby


Forget about any Test match fever we might have had this year, the 2010 Currie Cup final anticipation and “bring it on!” excitement has been off the scale. Maybe it is because the Bulls have been favourites to win eight of the last nine finals (they missed out in 2007 when the Cheetahs hosted the Lions) and now that there are refreshingly new protagonists on the stage, nobody in the audience quite knows how the drama is going to unfold.
Two years ago, the Sharks won the Currie Cup for the first time in 12 years; this year Western Province are in their first final in nine years. Can it really be possible that neon light figures such as Schalk Burger, Ricky Januarie and Jean De Villiers are playing in their first ever Currie Cup final?!
Amazing but true, and if they were doing so at Newlands tomorrow there are not too many that would have bet against WP winning their third Currie Cup final in a row against the Sharks – just after the turn of the Millennium the Sharks-WP rivalry was getting deliciously ugly in the 2000 and 2001 finals, with Mark Andrews and Corne Krige often trading juicy insults. They were good days indeed, with the Sharks being accused of streetwise cheating at ruck and maul time and the Mountain Goats instead being referred to as show ponies by the derisive Natalians.
Then Heyneke Meyer grabbed the Bulls by their snouts, and the Cheetahs found their nubile feet, and those two teams have mostly occupied the Currie Cup crease this last decade.
But the Bulls were upset in an almighty semi-final in Durban two weeks ago and the Cheetahs were introduced to their backsides at Newlands in a one-sided semi-final.
On that note it was interesting to note Sharks coach John Plumtree’s reflection on the run-in to the final for the two teams.
“We are pretty happy with how it has worked out for us. We had the best dress rehearsal you could hope for in the Bulls match. That was a Test match in terms of intensity, and our match before that was a heavy defeat to WP in Cape Town, and that obviously has been a focal point in our preparation. The boys have not forgotten what happened, make no mistake …”
Province by comparison have not worked up too much of a sweat in their last two games in comfortably beating the Sharks and the Cheetahs.
“Are our contrasting build-ups relevant?” Plumtree smiled earlier this week. “I will tell you after the final whistle. Speaking from our side, we learned that we can win a tight match by more than one means (by attacking in the first against the Bulls and then defending in the second), and our recent defeat to this same WP team is a case of forewarned is forearmed.”
So who the heck is going to win tomorrow?
We have a Sharks tight five that won’t let themselves get beaten like they were three weeks ago by sthe ame opponents – the Sharks could shade this department; the loose forward battle coudl well be won by the WP combination of Schalk Burger, Duane Vermeulen and Francois Louw, although Ryan Kankowski, Keegan Daniel and Willem Alberts will beg to differ.
The half back struggle is a fascinating one. Willem Alberts and Ricky Janurie have all the experience in the world and done fine service to the Currie Cup over the years, but compared to shiny new pins in Patrick Lambie and Charl Mcleod, they are aging donkeys (although they can kick like mules) and this is where the Sharks will win the match. You read it here first.
The rest of the backline comparisons don’t matter.
The Sharks will win because they are at home, because they have got their selections right, have energy and zip at halfback and because they are playing a brand of rugby they believe in. Game over, case closed.

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