Blue Bulls, Sharks could be boosted by URC stars for rest of the Currie Cup

Kurt-Lee Arendse could be back in action for the Blue Bulls this weekend. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Kurt-Lee Arendse could be back in action for the Blue Bulls this weekend. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Published May 8, 2023


Cape Town — A host of senior United Rugby Championship players could return to their Currie Cup teams to provide more impetus to the competition.

After being dumped out of the URC playoffs by the Stormers and Leinster respectively, the Blue Bulls and Sharks can call on their big-name players to help them push for a playoff spot in South Africa's premier domestic competition.

It’s especially the Bulls who need all the help they can get as they have lost twice in a row in the Currie Cup and have been slipping down the standings. They second from bottom after only winning three of their nine matches.

The Sharks on the other hand have been doing quite well without their senior players and have managed to stay among the top four sides. They have a healthy gap between them and the teams occupying fifth to eighth.

Bulls coach Jake White said he will have to look at what the team needs before making a final decision about what his side will look like. The last time they played Griquas, their opponents this weekend, the Loftus team scored a comprehensive win with their big guns all turning out.

That was the game that broke a host of defeats for the Bulls, and if White throws his experienced guys like Kurt-Lee Arendse, Elrigh Louw, Ruan Nortje and Embrose Papier in again, they can most probably do it against Griquas again.

But Griquas will also be out for revenge if a Springbok-laden Bulls team does rock up to Kimberley. They are still in a playoff spot, but another loss could see them trickle down the table at a time when teams below them will get their big-name players back.

The Sharks on the other hand do have the luxury of giving some of their players another week’s rest after their long trip to Ireland. They were comfortably beaten by Leinster in the URC quarter-finals at the weekend.

They play defending champions, the Pumas, in Mbombela having already dispatched the Nelspruit team with a fairly inexperienced squad in the first round.

It will probably be ideal if they can take another week off to clear their heads, but certain players will most definitely want some game time to try and get that winning feeling back.

For Western Province, there will be no luxury of getting a few senior players back as the Stormers are the only SA team left in the URC. They are still out to defend their title, with Province having to field a fairly inexperienced team again.

But, the youngsters have been doing good with only a couple of narrow losses keeping them out of the top four. The Griffons already toppled the Bulls, and WP should be wary of being too relaxed heading to Welkom.

The Lions should look at unleashing more of their senior players in their catfight with the Free State Cheetahs after a handful returned in the loss against Griquas this past weekend.

Scrumhalf Sanele Nohamba can add more flair to the backline, while getting the strike running of centre Marius Louw and pacey wing Edwill van der Merwe back will also be a much-needed boost.

The Johannesburg side are struggling in sixth place and can take a step in the right direction with a win over table toppers the Cheetahs.

The team from Bloemfontein haven’t hit their stride yet and the Lions will have to be wary of that this weekend.


IOL Sport

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