- Bulls scrumhalf Ivan van Zyl said it will be a massive achievement for the franchise if they win the Currie Cup.
- Van Zyl was still in high school at Affies when the Bulls last won the Currie Cup in 2009.
- Van Zyl also said the Currie Cup’s quality was enhanced by the availability of Springboks.
Bulls scrumhalf Ivan van Zyl said it will be massive for them if they win the Currie Cup by beating the Sharks on Saturday.
On Saturday, the Bulls and the Sharks will be renewing their historic Currie Cup final rivalry that properly took shape in 1990 when the Sharks upset the applecart with their 18-12 win over their more fancied rivals on the day.
Van Zyl wasn’t even born at the time but the 25-year-old Pretoria-born and bred halfback, who was part of Affies’ unbeaten first rugby XV in 2013 alongside RG Snyman, is aware of the massive weight of expectation thrust upon their shoulders.
The Bulls haven’t won the Currie Cup since 2009 when they beat the Cheetahs while their last Currie Cup final collision with the Sharks was a 14-9 loss at Kings Park in 2008.
“This is the dream. It is a massive week and a massive opportunity to play in a Currie Cup final. It’s my eighth year at the Bulls and as a young kid growing up watching the Bulls win Currie Cups and Super Rugby titles, this has always been the dream,” Van Zyl said.
“It will mean everything to me if at the end of the 80 minutes, we’ll be standing and holding the Currie Cup. We’ll be putting in the hard yards and making sure we’ll be doing everything possible to get that result. Personally, this will be massive, it will be a special achievement as it has been quite a long time since we’ve won anything.”
This tournament, one whose quality has been questioned, was Van Zyl’s first with most of the provinces being able to field their Springboks.
What experts have said about the tournament mattered little to Van Zyl, who said the fact there were plenty of Springboks available will make winning the Currie Cup that more special.
“It’s been a long time since the Currie Cup has had this quality of players. Every team was able to field its Springboks. It was a quality Currie Cup. It wasn’t just youngsters who were taking part, but this season, we also saw South Africa’s best players take part and picked each week. That made it more special for us to be in the final and for us to get our hands on that special trophy,” Van Zyl said.
Van Zyl, a capped Springbok will be up against the dangerous Sharks halfback duo of Sanele Nohamba and Jaden Hendrikse.
The excellent Sharks scrumhalves have talked and walked the walk, but Van Zyl, who has an equally capable deputy in Embrose Papier, said the duo that plays better will have the bigger say in the final.
“It’s a tactic of theirs and that is how they play. For me, it’s something that you hear, but don’t really hear. It’s part of the game. Everyone has a chirp here and there, but at the end of the day, it’s about the way we play and not the way we talk. They’re both very good players,” Van Zyl said.
Papier and Van Zyl have also been able to tap into Springbok scrumhalf Fourie du Preez’s knowledge, something Van Zyl said has been more than handy.
“Emmy and I have been very fortunate in the past couple of weeks to work with Fourie and invest in his understanding and the way he sees the game. That’s something we can’t buy and we’re fortunate to have him spending time with us,” Van Zyl said.
“It’s not only about our basics and looking at us skills wise, it’s also about the mental approach to the game, especially in big moments. He’s been massive for us.”
The final kicks off at 15:00 on Saturday.