There certainly is merit to the argument that the Currie Cup is watered down, but the tussle for Sir Donald Currie’s cup still showcases some of the best young talent in South Africa.
Here are five bright prospects who are well worth the price of admission!
Damian Willemse (flyhalf, WP)
Willemse got a taste of Super Rugby toward the end of the season. This young flyhalf is prodigiously talented, having chalked up five linebreaks in the Currie Cup so far. After the WP playmaker scored an outrageous try in the first round of the Currie Cup, we know he can sidestep a tackler in a phone booth.
Willemse clearly has the natural ingredients but now he needs to put in the hard graft to get his basics up to a high level if he wants to become a great flyhalf. Missing a few penalty kicks to touch is unacceptable for a professional pivot, regardless of the number of defenders he can beat with his lightning feet.
Warrick Gelant (fullback, Blue Bulls)
No longer a new face on the scene, Gelant will look to remind SA Rugby’s selectors of his class and skill in the domestic competition. In a struggling Bulls Super Rugby outfit he broke 11 tackles this season. Gelant should comfortably eclipse these numbers in the Currie Cup, flourishing in the added time and space offered by less organised defences.
After seven rounds, the fullback already boasts the most running metres (650m). With the Bulls struggling to find their attacking flow, the former Outeniqua High inside centre has been moved closer and closer to the action by the coaching staff, often stepping in at first receiver. More of Gelant with the ball in his hands is a mouth-watering prospect!
Sibusiso Nkosi (wing, Sharks)
Nkosi caught the eye of coach Robert Du Preez during the preseason and somewhat surprisingly found himself in the mix for Super Rugby. Despite the unimaginative attacking play of the Sharks in the tournament, the physically-intimidating Nkosi (96kgs of brawn) showed his potential and earned seven Super Rugby caps.
It has taken the powerful winger little time to transfer potential into considerable potency in the domestic comp as he currently tops the Currie Cup stats with 12 linebreaks and four tries from only five appearances. With other youngsters like Lukhanyo Am and Curwin Bosch also emerging in Durban, the new-age Sharks certainly have some promise about them.
Madosh Tambwe (wing, Golden Lions)
The top try-scorer in the 2016 provincial under-19 tournament (16 tries), Tambwe was given a taste of Super Rugby in 2017. The Lions winger has pace and a good step and looks a bright prospect.
At present the attacking set-up at the Johannesburg union is a dream scenario for any backline player and the young man from Zaire couldn’t ask for a better platform to unleash his talents. Expect a boot-load of tries from Tambwe during the Currie Cup.
Zee Mkhabela (scrumhalf, Cheetahs)
With the Cheetahs’ first-choice players bound for Europe and the PRO14, the Currie Cup is an opportunity for those waiting in the wings to show their worth. Zee Mkhabela is one such player.
Boasting an excellent pass, the little scrumhalf from Empangeni played for the Junior Boks in 2014 and made the Varsity Cup Dream Team in 2015 after a stellar season for Shimlas. Now 23, Mkhabela is ready to shine.
Hein Diemont is a passionate couch critic who screams, cheers and swears at his TV, usually all within the space of one game! His rants from the comfort of his couch are brutally honest with no punches pulled. Follow him on Twitter: @HDCouchCritic
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