Springboks

Bok coach chuffed with SA rugby's depth: No Griquas player in our leading 100

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South Africa's Jacques Nienaber
South Africa's Jacques Nienaber
PHILL MAGAKOE / AFP
  • Bok coach Jacques Nienaber says there's no shortage of depth in South African rugby.
  • Nienaber adds it was welcome to see Griquas and the Pumas reach the Currie Cup final.
  • To highlight SA's depth, Nienaber says no Griquas player is even ranked among the top 100 players on their radar.

Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber is happy with the amount of depth in South African rugby.

Nienaber was speaking at a Bok media conference in Pretoria on Tuesday where he hailed the Currie Cup efforts of Griquas and the Pumas.

The two teams will contest Saturday's Currie Cup final in Kimberley, with Griquas having floored the Bulls 30-19 in their semi-final in Pretoria and the Pumas upsetting the Cheetahs 38-35 in Bloemfontein.

It will be Griquas' first Currie Cup final since they beat the Bulls 11-9 in Kimberley in 1970, while the Pumas - who were formerly known as South Eastern Transvaal - will contest their first final.

The Currie Cup copped criticism from Bulls coach Gert Smal over the weekend. Smal was frustrated that the competition overlapped with the United Rugby Championship and he said after their defeat to Griquas that the Currie Cup was "devalued" and even suggested it "should be put in a museum".

Nienaber, though, feels the Currie Cup still adds value.

"I'm still very interested in the Currie Cup. Just the other day, Rassie (Erasmus, SA Rugby's director of rugby) and I spoke about (Bulls scrumhalf) Zak Burger. When he was still at Griquas, we did a bit of player analysis on him and were watching him," Nienaber said.

"And then, in one of our online [coaches'] meetings, Rassie mentioned his name and a few weeks later, he was contracted to the Bulls, and now he's someone who we are watching even closer.

"So, definitely, [the Currie Cup] is something that we watch closely, and if you look at the final this year between the Pumas and Griquas, it's outstanding what they've done.

"If you look at the Pumas and Griquas as domestic franchises - the others are international - and if you look at their budgets and that they're competing in the final, it speaks to the depth in SA."

Further highlighting the depth in the local game, Nienaber said no Griquas player was even in their top 100 list of players at the moment.

"I also work closely with Rassie in keeping an eye on the leading players and there's 100 of them in SA, and quite a few played in the semi-finals. The Pumas have one or two; Griquas don't have at the moment but still look how well they did.

"I'm not saying the Cheetahs or Bulls did anything wrong [in the semi-finals] but it shows how much talent there is."

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