Catrakilis' farewell party

Wed, 19 Sep 2012 14:43
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Although he has signed with the Kings for next year Demetri Catrakilis should still have a vital role to play for Western Province in the Currie Cup.

Although he has signed with the Kings for next year Demetri Catrakilis should still have a vital role to play for Western Province in the Currie Cup.

The Vodacom Cup-winning pivot was unveiled as one of three signings by the Eastern Cape franchise on Wednesday alongside Cheetahs centre Andries Strauss and Sharks lock Steven Sykes, but before he moves to Port Elizabeth he has some important business to finish in Cape Town.

After shooting to prominence in the UCT team that claimed the Varsity Cup last year, Catrakilis got his opportunity at provincial level and went on to win the Vodacom Cup this year before making the blue and white hooped No.10 jersey his own in the Currie Cup.

The ace goal-kicker has given the Province backline some crucial stability this season, and although he is not going to be sticking around much longer he should remain an important cog in coach Allister Coetzee's side who need him to keep his focus as they seek their first Currie Cup title in 11 years.

This weekend sees another challenge in the form of Griquas who have been in great form recently, but Catrakilis believes that it is the visitors who will be under more pressure as they seek to prove that they belong with the big unions at the top of the standings.

"I think there is a lot of pressure on them [Griquas] now, semifinals - I don't think they have had that pressure in the last few Currie Cups, so we will see how they handle that.

"But there is a lot of respect on our side for them too and I think we have just got to focus on ourselves and work on getting the attack and defence on a par," he said.

The Province flyhalf is renowned for his shrewd tactical kicking game, and he knows that anyone who hands the ball over to the dangerous Griquas outside backs in space is looking for trouble.

"I think we have got to be ruthless, when any one of them touch the ball they are dangerous on attack. I think kicking-wise it will be about not giving them too much space, and maybe more contestables, we will see what happens," he said.

Catrakilis said that he has really enjoyed the more attacking approach that Province have adopted in the Currie Cup this year, and lauded the contribution of the senior players in the squad who have allowed some of the emerging players to express themselves.

"I think guys are trying to enjoy themselves a little bit more and let the ball fizz out there and get a little bit more running into it.

"We don't put too much pressure on ourselves, but experience-wise I think we have got a few guys who have stepped up to the plate like Gio [Aplon] Joe [Pietersen] and Deon [Fourie] and it is nice to have that balance between some experience and some youth and excitement," he explained.

Many of the young guns that have impressed for Province this season have come through the system with Catrakilis, and he said that the impressive form of players such as Marcel Brache, Nic Groom and Don Armand was particularly pleasing having played alongside them in the Varsity Cup and Vodacom Cup.

"The guys have really stepped up to the plate, they are quality players and they deserve to be where they are and hopefully they can take it on to the Stormers and hopefully Springboks one day, we will see," he said.

Although he will not be playing with them for much longer, Catraklis should have the opportunity to show what his teammates will be missing next year by finishing the Currie Cup in the No.10 jersey.

There is a chance that he will be replaced in the starting line-up by the injury-prone Gary van Aswegen, but that seems unlikely at this late stage of the campaign, and if Coetzee does make that call he could well be cutting off his nose to spite his face.

By Michael de Vries

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Team P W D L Pts
Sharks 12 10 0 2 47
Western Province 12 7 0 5 37
Golden Lions 12 6 0 6 35
Blue Bulls 12 5 0 7 32
Free State Cheetahs 12 6 0 6 31
Pumas 12 4 0 8 27
Griquas 12 4 0 8 26