Coenie: It's fun and games up front
Coenie: It's fun and games up frontSHARE
Currie Cup semifinal time, in the words of Springbok prop Coenie Oosthuizen, is always an "amazing challenge".
And it will be no different when the Free State Cheetahs travel to Durban on Saturday to meet the Sharks at the Kings Park stadium.
However, the expected rainy conditions – as was the case when the Sharks played Western Province last week – will make the contest between the forward even more critical.
Durban, for the latter part of the week, will experience heavy rain, while by Saturday it will 'calm down' to numerous showers with breaks of sun late in the day.
However, with the temperate set to barely rise into the late teens – 16°C to 18°C – and the possibility of showers during the game (17.00 kick-off), the conditions will remain testing.
Oosthuizen, speaking to this website in the build-up to Saturday's encounter at Kings Park, says every player in the Cheetahs team knows what he must do and every player knows how they got to the play-offs.
However, the conditions will ensure that two powerful sets of forwards, with a host of Springboks in action, will be the added spice of an already intriguing contest.
"Both teams have very good ball-carriers and we're in for a very physical game up front," Oosthuizen said.
"If it starts raining the [performance of the] forwards will be that much more important.
"The backs just pass the ball around a little, nothing serious," he quipped.
However, on a more serious note, he felt if the expected rain does arrive the game will be contested up front.
"If our tight five doesn't pitch up, we will get the stuffing knocked out of us," the 24-year-old prop told this website.
"The way we have trained this week you can see all the guys are looking forward to the challenge.
"None of the guys in this [Cheetahs] team have won a Currie Cup and it is a big goal for us," he added.
There is one disappointing aspect of Saturday's semifinal.
Oosthuizen will not go head-to-head with his Springbok teammate and front row rival Jannie du Plessis, who has been ruled out with a hand/wrist injury.
"It is always a good battle," Oosthuizen said of his previous encounters with the Bok veteran, adding: "We have been playing against each other for a few years now and it is an enjoyable contest.
"He knows me and I know him and we know how to play against each other and how we both scrum.
"It is disappointing not to face him, as we have been together for the past eight weeks [on Springbok duty].
"It is always 'fun and games' when we play against each other."
The burly Cheetahs prop said Du Plessis's absence is a setback for the Sharks.
"He is a scrum doctor in his own class," he said of the qualified medical doctor, Du Plessis.
"He has proved over the years that he is a solid tighthead [prop].
"[Replacement] Wiehan Herbst is himself not a bad player, as he is also a good scrummager and he would have learned a lot from Jannie [du Plessis].
"Both teams will be out to make a statement in the scrums this weekend, as the team that can dominate the scrums will be a long way towards dominating the game in the forward exchanges."
By Jan de Koning