Jantjies signed, Catrakilis still uncertain
The Currie Cup ended up serving some purpose for Western Province by allowing them to end an 11-year trophy drought that should ease the pressure next time the Stormers face a playoff fixture, but from Monday the focus will be on looking forward to the 2013 Super Rugby campaign.
There were times towards the end of the domestic season where the WP officials and coaching staff appeared to suffer from severe neglectfulness when they glibly forgot how they had downplayed the Currie Cup as no more than a development tool for Super Rugby for most of the season. Maybe in the end what recent weeks have shown is that the Currie Cup is only meaningless, as was contended this time last year when Province were faced by a different end result, when you don’t win it.
But the final result justified the means in the sense that fans will now be happy that their thirst has been quenched, and it should bolster the WP confidence as they morph back into the Stormers to play in the competition that these days is the one that matters.
Coach Allister Coetzee starts the build-up to that tournament when he hosts a press conference on Monday where he unveils his signings for 2013.
We already know about Lions Springbok Jaco Taute, and a WP official stole a bit of Coetzee’s thunder by letting slip after the final that Elton Jantjies, another decorated Lions player who was up for loan, has also signed on the dotted line.
We sort of knew that already, but they were just taking their time to confirm it. Now that it has been confirmed, the next question focuses on Demetri Catrakilis, who showed great BMT and composure and poise in delivering perhaps his finest and most mature performance in the WP No 10 just when such a performance was needed most.
There has been some uncertainty for a few months over Catrakilis's intentions for his future. Coetzee said in August that the flyhalf had been made an offer by the Kings and it was his right to match or beat that offer. He said at the time that he was just making up his mind about Catrakilis, whether he would need him or not.
Well the final, where Catrakilis kicked two decisive drop-goals in addition to his brilliant tactical kicking display, appears to have made up Coetzee’s mind.
“We want Demetri to stay and I will be discussing his future with him over the next couple of days,” said Coetzee at the post-Currie Cup final press conference.
But where does that leave the Kings, who must feel they have him signed and sealed because they recently announced that they will have his services for three years?
“I don’t know, I am not Demetri’s agent,” said Coetzee shrugging his shoulders.
What is obvious is that the Stormers do need as much depth as possible in the crucial pivot position if they want to go all the way to Super Rugby glory, and the 2011 season, when they ended up having to call out their fifth and sixth ranked flyhalves because of an injury crisis, should be a reminder that you just can’t have too many flyhalves on your books.
As it stands though Coetzee faces an interesting selection juggling act next season as in addition to Jantjies he also has stalwart Peter Grant returning from Japan.
The man that Coetzee has been backing as the future over the past two seasons, the 2010 under-21 trophy winning flyhalf Gary van Aswegen, is continually injured and it is going to be interesting to see where Coetzee fits him into his squad and pecking order moving forward, if at all.
The other players from outside that we know about who have been signed are Lions Springbok prop Pat Cilliers and another currently Johannesburg based forward who learned his rugby in KwaZulu-Natal in the form of Michael Rhodes. Young Lions lock Ruan Botha is also heading to Cape Town.
These new players will add to the stalwarts and stars who are set to return from injury or other engagements next year, and it should not be forgotten that the WP side that won the domestic trophy was without Jean de Villiers, Schalk Burger, Siya Kolisi, Tiaan Liebenberg, Nizaam Carr, Dewaldt Duvenage, Rynhardt Elstadt and Andries Bekker, to name just a few.
Given how some of the youngsters have performed, there are names on that list who are going to be under pressure when the Super Rugby season does come around.