After 13 weeks of competitive Currie Cup rugby, the time is here for glory, with one final hurdle – this Saturday’s final – to safely negotiate in order for the Cell C Sharks team to transform potential into success.
It’s been quite the most enjoyable season, the blips on the radar nothing serious and certainly of no real consequence in the grand scheme of our successful fight to end the pool stages top of the log. Throw in a run of 10 straight victories and a semi-final win last week that showed that this team knows how to win. And now, the final. At Growthpoint KINGS PARK. A fairy-tale ending to the season?
“There is a bit of nervous excitement going on, I’m super-excited myself,” says Cell C Sharks prop Thomas du Toit.
Semi-finals are almost more stressful than finals, because once you have reached the final, you know you’re there and anything can happen, but in a semi-final, it’s an obstacle that could trip you up, even when you know you are finals material.
“It was definitely a nerve-wracking feeling for me because last week was only my second semi-final and it was a big relief getting it over with.
“But that’s over and we’re into the final. Playing Western Province in any game is going to be a cracker, but playing them in the final is going to be very special.”
Derby matches always bring out the best in players, and while he admits that this is not a grudge match, “it’s definitely personal. That will make all the difference for me, getting my mind ready and changing my mindset for this game.”
This weekend he is up against Wilco Louw who performed for the Springboks recently and there’s no better test than playing against a top class performer. Again, there is no grudge match here. The two grew up playing each other at schoolboy level as well as competing in athletics.
“There’s quite a bond between cauliflower brothers,” he says with a laugh.
“Scrumming against Wilco is something I’ve done a few times, but the nice thing is that we are friends. We became very close during our time with the SA Under 20s and previously at the Bok camp.
“The only revenge I need to take is to get him back for snoring in the room! But we are good friends.”
At the back of some peoples’ minds will be the fact that Western Province came to Durban two weeks ago, needing a win to qualify for a home semi-final, while the Cell C Sharks had already secured a home final and realistically had nothing to play for.
“We never intentionally went out to lose that match, we still went out and gave it our all which is exactly what we’re going to do this weekend. The motivation for us is that this is going to be personal.”
The importance for the Union, for the team and for the individual players to win this Currie Cup is immense and an opportunity to really make this season count. It would also set the squad up well for next season if we are able to take confidence from success into Super Rugby.
“I can sum it up very easily: I am going to play the most important game of my life this weekend. That’s the mentality we’re all going into this game with.”