Back where they belong

Thu, 17 Oct 2013 11:25
Large demetri catrakilis   elton Large catrakilis   jantjies Large elton jantjies lions runs Large catrakilis kicks.jpg630

One of the key sub-plots to Saturday's Currie Cup semifinal at Newlands will be the duel between the two flyhalves.

One of the key sub-plots to Saturday's Currie Cup semifinal at Newlands will be the duel between flyhalves Demetri Catrakilis and Elton Jantjies.

The contrasting style of each player embodies the approach their respective teams favour - with Catrakilis' strength his tactical kicking and committed defence, whilst Jantjies is a more creative playmaker who enjoys taking the ball to the line.

Another interesting aspect of the comparison is the fact that Jantjies' loan spell with the Stormers this year effectively forced Catrakilis to sign with the Kings in search of a starting Super Rugby berth.

Jantjies seemed to be something of a square peg in a round hole in Cape Town, as although he was not a complete failure he never really looked completely comfortable in the Stormers No.10 jersey.

Having returned to Cape Town since Jantjies extended his contract with the Lions, Catrakilis has slotted seamlessly back into the team that he steered to the Currie Cup title last year.

The end result has been that both players are back where they feel comfortable, which sets their semifinal battle this weekend up nicely.

When asked by this website about the specific challenges that Jantjies poses as an opponent, Catrakilis admitted that his tactical kicking will have to be spot on to keep the two-Test Bok on the back foot.

"He is a really good attacking player so we won't want to give them any front-foot ball and hopefully keep him on the back foot which will keep the Lions quiet," he said.

The Province flyhalf said that he has had little trouble settling back in at Province and taking over from Kurt Coleman in the second half of the season.

"I have a lot of quality guys around me and they have been helping a lot. Coming back into the mix and into a new team because I have been away all year was a bit of a change.

"It was good for me to come off the bench, I think Kurt [Coleman] did a brilliant job too, so coming back has been a nice smooth transition because the guys around me are so good," he said.

Catrakilis added that given the attacking threat the Lions pose, it will be crucial for Province to keep them in their own half and grind their opponents down.

"I think we need to keep the ball in their half, so if they do want to attack we need to keep them attacking from where it is safe for us.

"I don't know if they will bring much of an attacking game in their half, they might bring a territory game being a semifinal. But I think whatever they bring we have something to counter it," he explained.

Having beaten the Lions in the semifinal at Ellis Park last year, Province know just how motivated the visitors will be to cause an upset, and Catrakilis is adamant that the defending champions will be taking nothing for granted.

"We know what it feels like to play away so we know what the Lions have to do coming here, but we need to back ourselves at home.

"It is the same as last year, it is still a semifinal and we are trying to get into a final, but we are not thinking about that too much we need to win this game first.

"Playing at home is easier because we have the backing of the crowd and don't have to travel, so we will be going for it but pressure is pressure so we need to deal with it," he said.

Whilst there will be important battles all over the park on Saturday, it will be the two flyhalves who will be expected to give their teams direction.

These two have shown that there is more than one way to win a Currie Cup, with one title each, so both will be eager to prove that their style trumps the other.

By Michael de Vries

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