South African rugby fans will be thrilled by the skills of a new generation of stars in the forthcoming Absa Currie Cup, which kicks off next Friday evening in Port Elizabeth when the EP Kings host DHL Western Province.
A host of the players who featured for the Junior Springboks earlier this season are already training with their senior provincial squads and could become household names in the coming months.
“We have already seen a number of these players making the step up to Vodacom Super Rugby in the last month,” said SARU CEO Jurie Roux.
“Here I’m thinking of younger players such as Thomas du Toit, Marvin Orie, Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg, Seabelo Senatla and Jesse Kriel, who all made their Super Rugby debuts in July.
“There will be more where they came from and that bodes well for South African rugby, because it’s in the Absa Currie Cup where our players are groomed for higher honours.”
Following a request from SARU to the provinces, the contracted Springboks selected for the Castle Lager Rugby Championship will not play any part in the Absa Currie Cup.
“The Springboks are our first priority and the provinces have been very supportive, which we’re very thankful for. They breed our Springboks and it will be up to them to bring the next generation through,” said Roux.
“While it’s impossible to put a blanket ban across all contracted Springboks to play for their provinces, the players utilised in the Castle Lager Rugby Championship will be managed on an individual basis as the necessity arises. Most of them won’t play any part in the Currie Cup, though.”
The Cell C Sharks will kick off the defence of the Absa Currie Cup against GWK Griquas in Kimberley on Saturday, 9 August. Other first round matches will see the Juskei Derby between the Xerox Golden Lions and the Vodacom Blue Bulls in Johannesburg, while the Steval Pumas will host the Toyota Free State Cheetahs in Nelspruit.
The semi-finals are scheduled for 18 October and the final will be played a week later, on Saturday 25 October.