Win the Currie Cup or be branded a choker

Western Province know that they need to beat the Sharks in Saturday’s Currie Cup final or they will be called chokers having reached the Super14 and Currie Cup final and won nothing.


It has been nine years since Western Province featured in a Currie Cup final but in that time they have lost two Currie Cup semifinals, a Super 14 semi (as the Stormers) and, this year, a Super 14 final.


Ironically the last time WP were in a Currie Cup final it was against the Sharks at Newlands in 2001 and Province won.


“Winning the final is important for us because we’ve started a culture of making play-offs and making finals,” WP coach Allister Coetzee told Times Live.


“The flip side is we now have to create a culture of winning finals. We’re at a tipping point. We have to make sure we get over it and break new ground. It’s important for the development of this team and this union that we do that.


“We have our plan. We only have control of what we do. I believe if we get those aspects right we’ll be able to take the next step.”


The Western Province players took last week off while the coaches worked hard on analysis with an extra week to prepare for the final.


“The build-up for this has been a bit different to the Super 14 final because we’ve come off an easier week,” Coetzee said.


“You don’t feel as rushed because of the extra week to prepare. You feel you have more time to be thorough, which has made it a bit more relaxing.


“We did all our analytical work last week and the coaches were able to also have some downtime and take a long weekend.


“Mental preparation is the most important part for me. You have to build it up to the match. Every practice session has to be highly focused and intense, but when it’s done the players need to switch off completely and relax their minds.


“When everyone reported on Monday there was a real buzz in the camp. All the players are fine. There is a lot of excitement around the camp. Training went well and you can sense that everyone is raring to go for the final.”


Sharks coach John Plumtree has implemented a game plan based a little on the “All Black” style of play. Coetzee however is confident after most of his players from the Super14 recorded five wins against New Zealand opposition earlier this year.


“The Sharks took it physically to the Bulls and won the battle at the gain line,” Coetzee said.


“They also won the battle at the breakdown in that match, which was another telling factor.


“The way the game is now played it’s important to keep the ball in hand and use it well to put the opponents under pressure.”


” Against the Sharks, if you lose the ball you don’t see it for a long time. That makes them dangerous.”

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