The Currie Cup starts this Saturday and as always there is a big anticipation by all rugby fans in SA, even with the Springboks that are not available this competition is the one that determines who is the the strongest team in SA rugby.There is no other competition that generates so much passion and arguments among SA rugby fans, provincial divides are deep and loyal fans will stand and fall with their teams, good friends fight and argue and sometimes come to blows about the merits of their teams.This competition is the main reason that South African is a power in world rugby, it is hard,fast and skillful with no compromise given or taken, this prepares players for rugby at a higher level.This year all the teams have lost players to other SA teams and overseas teams, the main countries being France and Japan, this gives young players a chance to prove their mettle in the Currie cup.The favorites for this years competition are the Stormers who won the cup last year ,the Sharks who have a new CEO John Smit and a new coach who is rated as one of the best in the world Brendan Venter, and of course the Bulls who have a winning culture and who have won the cup more than any other team the last 10 years. The Cheetahs are always in with a chance and run hot or cold, one day playing like champions and the next day like dunces, they also do not have the depth of the other unions.The outsider in the competition is the Griquas they can upset a team now and then and with players like Willie le Roux and Lourens Adriaanse who were both called up for the Springboks this year, they may surprise a couple of teams this year.The Stormers came back to form last year after not winning any mayor competition for 11 years, Coetsee did a good job last year and with Fleck they form a good coaching team,they lost Rassie Erasmus last year due to politics and infighting, he really put good structures and planning in place and one can only hope they carry on with the legacy he left behind.They have a lot of players in the Springbok squad and will have to rely on their back up players,they have good players like Deon Fourie who is the captain one of the unlucky ones not to make the Bok squad,then there is De Allende,Van Aswegen, Screuder, in the back line, a formidable front row and underrated loose forwards,they have a lot of depth and some good young players coming through the ranks,they will give a good account of themselves this year.The Sharks biggest enemy last year was the politics and infighting in the franchise.This year they start with a totally new board with John Smit at the helm,and Brendon Venter as the new coach, both of them were part of Springbok teams who won the world cup, Venter has been a successful coach in SA and in the UK and is very highly regarded as a coach, as a player and a coach he has been there and done that,they also have a lot of players in the Springbok squad,but have a lot of good players staying behind, Herbst, Cooper,Pieter Steph du Toit,Keegan Daniels up Front. In the backline they have two quality scrum halves Reinach and McCloud ,Jordaan at center,and some good young players coming through the ranks,they also bought a good fullback from the Kings SP Marais. With the players they have and a quality coaching team i think they must regarded as the favorites to lift the Currie cup.The Bulls will be under siege this year,they have players in the Springbok squad, and they have lost 8 players to overseas teams,this will put a lot of pressure on the depth of the franchise,they have bought some good players Piet van Zyl from the Cheethas and 4 players from the Kings,Engelbrecht being the pick of them, they have some real quality young players coming into the team,the Bulls have some of the best structures in SA, they also have a winning culture and a lot of pride,combine that with fanatical supporters, and any one writing them of in this years competition do it at their own peril,they will be right up there at the end of the Currie cup.The Cheetahs are their own worst enemy,they really blow hot or cold,they can win any team depending on which team turns up.They have lost their whole front row to the Springboks and have lost some very good back line players to other teams Van Zyl and Ebersohn, they have some good locks and one of the best loose forward combinations in the country with Brussow setting the pace,behind the scrum Sarel Pretorius must be the most underrated scrumhalves in the country,i dont know what he must do to catch the attention of the Bok coach, Sadie is also living up to his earlier promise at the Cheetahs. I think that the Cheethas will be the joker in the pack and can win any team on a given day.The Griquas are the team that should end at the bottom of the log,they are a small union and if they lose players they have very little depth,Willie le Roux will be with the Boks that weakens them a lot.They have some solid forwards a front row with Adriaanse and Barnes playing in the super 15,at the back they are thin in quality,but be sure they will surprise a couple of teams specially on their stone hard pitch in Kimberly .I hope we have a great Currie cup and that all the supporters will support their teams with passion and a sense of sportsmanship, to look past provinces and give praise when good rugby is played by a team. If i was a betting man i would put money on the Sharks to lift the Currie cup,and they are not my team,but looking at all the facts i really think they are the best team.
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