Currie Cup

More heartache for tragedy-stricken Niel Otto as Griquas skipper misses out on historic final

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Niel Otto. (Photo by Dirk Kotze/Gallo Images)
Niel Otto. (Photo by Dirk Kotze/Gallo Images)
  • Griquas will be without regular skipper Niel Otto for Saturday's Currie Cup final against the Pumas.
  • The unfortunate flanker hasn't recovered from concussion, compounding a difficult fortnight for him personally where he also had to deal with the death of his father.
  • Precocious Sango Xamlashe will assume the leadership duties, but says he's keen to tap into the experience of the veterans around him.

Griquas' historic and heartening march to a first Currie Cup final since 1970 will be tinged with a bit of sadness after it was confirmed that regular skipper Niel Otto will have to sit out Saturday's meeting with the Pumas in Kimberley.

The bustling former Ikeys star failed to recover from the concussion he suffered early in last week's semi-final against the Bulls, compounding a tough fortnight where the 25-year-old's build-up to the brilliant victory over the Bulls at Loftus being soured by the death of his father.

"He went to see a specialist on Tuesday and wasn't cleared," Griquas head coach Pieter Bergh confirmed on Thursday.

"Niel is gutted. It's been tough few weeks for him. His dad passed away last week Wednesday before the semi and he really wanted to dedicated a big performance to him. He wanted to make him proud. 

"Then he got injured early in the Bulls game and now misses out. It's very unfortunate."

Otto's compact, 1.84m frame and immense work ethic has made him an inspirational presence in a team that's gradually become one of the most potent attacking ones in the local game and a pesky presence at the breakdown for the opposition.

His place will be taken by former Bull Werner Gouws, a distinctly more robust and bigger exponent at openside.

"Werner's done really well when he's been given an opportunity. He joined us just before Easter and got his first opportunity in Stellenbosch. He played a part in us winning that game against Province and went from strength to strength there," said Bergh.

"He deserves this chance in Niel's absence."

Meanwhile, the precocious former Varsity Cup-winning Tuks captain Sango Xamlashe takes over the leadership duties, but is distinctly relaxed and grateful for having wise heads around him.

"Yeah, I don't think there's much on my plate," said the dynamic midfielder. 

"I definitely share responsibility with the leadership group. There are a lot of experienced campaigners who've been here before."

One other notable inclusions are the grizzled trio of hooker Simon Westraadt, lock Cameron Lindsay and fullback George Whitehead.

Kick-off in Kimberley is at 15:00 on Saturday. 



15 George Whitehead, 14 Munier Hartzenberg, 13 Sango Xamlashe (captain), 12 Rynhardt Jonker, 11 Luther Obi, 10 Zander du Plessis, 9 Stefan Ungerer, 8 Siba Qoma, 7 Hanru Sirgel, 6 Werner Gouws, 5 Derik Pretorius, 4 Cameron Lindsay, 3 Janu Botha, 2 Janco Uys, 1 Kudzwai Dube

Substitutes: 16 Simon Westraadt, 17 Eddie Davids, 18 Andries Schutte, 19 Johan Retief, 20 Michael Amiras, 21 Johan Mulder, 22 Fiela Boshoff, 23 Chris Hollis


15 Devon Williams, 14 Tapiwa Mafura, 13 Sebastián de Klerk, 12 Eddie Fouche, 11 Jade Stighling, 10 Tinus de Beer, 9 Chriswill September, 8 Andre Fouche, 7 Willie Engelbrecht (captain), 6 Daniel Maartens, 5 Shane Kirkwood, 4 Deon Slabbert, 3 IG Prinsloo, 2 Eduan Swart, 1 Corne Fourie.

Substitutes: 16 Llewellyn Classen, 17 Dewald Maritz, 18 Simon Raw, 19 Kwanda Dimaza, 20 Francois Kleinhans, 21 Giovan Snyman, 22 Ali Mgijima, 23 Alwayno Visagie

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