DURBAN – There would have been the sweet smell of retribution aboard the Sharks’ flight from Cape Town to Durban on Sunday, not to mention a liberal cargo of champers.
The shock last year in the Currie Cup final to the same team had been well and truly avenged. The Band of Brothers, as they call themselves, thoroughly deserved to win a final they controlled for the full 80 minutes, despite the best intentions of the TMO to keep the home team in the game.
The last time the Sharks won the Currie Cup it was also at Newlands and they were likewise firm underdogs after having lost heavily to Province in a league game. That was the final in which WP scrumhalf Louis Schreuder gifted an intercept try to opposite number Charl Macleod. How different did this year’s final turn out for Schreuder, who just had time to hold aloft the Currie Cup before speeding off to the airport to catch the Springboks’ flight to London, after having been called up by Rassie Erasmus?
2013 was also the final in which the lineouts went horribly wrong for WP, with a certain Pieter-Steph du Toit playing a hell of a game for the Sharks. The captain that day was Keegan Daniel who went from holding the Currie Cup aloft at Newlands that October to being cast aside a few months later by new Sharks coach Jake White.
We can be pretty sure nothing like this will happen when the Sharks reconvene for Super Rugby in the new year. For the Sharks, 2019 must be about continuity, consolidation and kicking on after the timely boost of this title win.
Since the unfortunate end of the John Plumtree era, the Sharks have generally stagnated. The 2013 Currie Cup win, under consultant coach Brendan Venter, proved to be a one-off, and since then there have been good periods but not enough sustained achievement. Crowd attendance and general interest has been down, but the weekend’s win has sparked sentimental memories for Sharks fans on social media and hopefully many of them will get season tickets in their Christmas stockings.
And the Sharks need to deliver in Super Rugby if this opportunity is to be fully grasped. There has to be some introspection and boldness from the management and the coaching staff if the Sharks are to use this Currie Cup foundation to grow into serious challengers for the Super Rugby title.
Just one area that needs to be addressed is what to do about the outrageous talent of Curwin Bosch. The 21-year-old’s career is going nowhere at the Sharks and when his contract is up, you can bet he will be going somewhere where he can play flyhalf.
It is a tricky one. Robert du Preez is a very good player, the Sharks have just won a Currie Cup with him at No 10, but it is Bosch that has that rare and very precious X-Factor. Can they both be accommodated in a backline where Bosch gets a lot more ball at first receiver? Let’s hope so.
Bosch is also an incredible kicker of a rugby ball. His low, probing kicks for territory are like an ace golfer sweetly stroking a three iron. His kick-offs at Newlands were immaculate.
For now it is happy days at Kings Park, but the pre-season has to be about planning how to turn Currie Cup triumph into Super Rugby glory.