DURBAN – As has often been the case in years gone by for the Currie Cup, at around this time, there are a bevy of Springboks with some time on their hands.
While contracted Boks are no longer allowed to play in the final stages of the Currie Cup, there are a lot who have done recent duty for the national side limbering up.
This is especially true in the case of the Golden Lions, who have brought back several Springboks who were involved in the Rugby Championship for their semi-final against the Sharks at Durban’s Kings Park today (2.30pm kickoff).
It is always an interesting strategy as the team no doubt receives a big boost in talented individuals, but it can sometimes be detrimental to the cohesion in the side.
Still, the Lions have added some tried and tested names, such as captain Warren Whiteley and skilful flyhalf Elton Jantjies.
There are also the likes of rising star Aphiwe Dyantyi and Lionel Mapoe that the Sharks will have to contend with.
In saying that, if Springboks lift the intensity and skill of the team, the Sharks boast even more than their hinterland opponents, and most of theirs have been part of the Currie Cup squad for some time now.
The Sharks have five Boks in their backline, only the centres without their national colours, and in the forwards there are an additional three, as well as three more on the bench.
The clash is building up to be a real test for the Sharks, and probably one they could really use if they plan on going all the way and winning the Currie Cup.
The Lions, bolstered as they are, are still an outstanding outfit and will try and out-play the attack-minded Sharks.
If the home side is able to overcome their semi-final foes, they will in all likelihood face Western Province in Cape Town, the only team to have bested them all season.
Therefore, the Sharks will want to take this match against the Lions seriously, not only as a stepping stone to the final, but also as solid preparation for what could be a difficult final.
Two of #OurSharks stars, Curwin Bosch and Robert du Preez attached the latest @GoPro Hero 7 to the ol' pigskin to give you a 'balls-eye view' of their training session at JONSSON KINGS PARK.📹
Catch them in action in the semi-final tomorrow!#SHAvLIO #OurSharksForever pic.twitter.com/BZS1kGEUiI
The Sharks know they have the mental edge over the Lions, having beaten them in the group stages – but this is a very different game.
Still, Sharks lock Hyron Andrews believes that their set-pieces in that previous match is what got them through, and what they should remember come 2.30pm.
“One thing comes to mind from that game and it is the set-piece battle,” said Andrews. “I thought we had a good day, we scrummed well, had good lineouts and our backs really performed.
“And on defence, we put in a good effort, which is important in games against the Lions because they are a very attacking side.
Flip The Switch ⚡️ pic.twitter.com/zqEutdKOhN
“Both defence and attack are going to be important this weekend.
“If we have the ball, we have to maintain possession, and if they have it, we need to defend well.”