What can the Emerging Ireland team expect from the Griquas challenge in South Africa?

The Griquas have named seven debutants in their match-23 for the friendly game that forms part of the Toyota Challenge.

The Emerging Ireland team at training in South Africa.
The Emerging Ireland team at training in South Africa.
Image: Steve Haag/INPHO

THE CURRIE CUP runners-up, the Griquas will be fielding a new-look team when they take to the field on Friday afternoon against Emerging Ireland in Bloemfontein, South Africa.

The Griquas – who play out of Kimberley – named seven debutants in their match-23 for the friendly game that forms part of the Toyota Challenge.

The most significant change is the halfback-combination with Eddie Fouché starting at flyhalf and Bobby Alexander, who will don the number nine jersey. Fouché played for the Pumas against the Griquas in the Currie Cup final in June, while Alexander moved from Western Province to the team affectionately known as the Peacock Blues.

The former Cheetahs player, Malcom Jaer, will start at fullback and he brings PRO14 experience to the Griquas, and he also previously plied his trade at the Southern Kings.

Upfront, Janco Venter, will start at the back of the scrum, while Albert Liebenberg is a new recruit in the second-row.

The prop Melusi Mthabela and the Zimbabwean international, Godfrey Muzanargwo will be on debut off the bench. Muzanargwo can cover at both lock and at loose-forward.

The Griquas have a whole host of seasoned campaigners out injured, such as the energetic loose-forward, Hanru Sirgel and the tough-as-teak second-rower, Derik Pretorius.

In addition, two of their star backline players, Zander du Plessis and Sango Xamlashe, are on loan to the Lions and will be on duty in the United Rugby Championship under January 2023.

The Griquas, coach Pieter Bergh, said playing in Bloemfontein will form part of their preparations for the 203 Currie Cup, and they welcome facing overseas opposition.

“It’s great for us as well. We all dream of playing at a higher level such as the URC or in international rugby. To test ourselves against different opposition so early in the season will be great.

“If you look at the Irish teams – they are well coached and their basics are always very good. We expect them to be solid, especially in their set piece, their breakdown and their defence will also be good. It is going to be a difficult game for us.”

While the Griquas will be fielding a fresh squad, they do tend to contract players that will suit their DNA of hard and uncompromising rugby played at a fast pace, while their set piece can challenge the best. The team from the Northern Cape know how to upset big teams in important matches, and while they seldom reach the playoffs in the Currie Cup, they most certainly always have an effect on the outcome of the tournament.

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Emerging Ireland will no doubt be favourites to win the match in the City of Roses, but the Griquas will be a handful and they will play for the full 80-minutes.

The match on Friday afternoon at the Toyota Stadium will kick-off at 12:45.

Griquas – 15 Malcolm Jaer, 14 Raegan Oranje, 13 Jay-Cee Nel, 12 Tertius Kruger, 11 Luther Obi, 10 Eddie Fouché, 9 Bobby Alexander, 8 Janco Venter, 7 Werner Gouws, 6 Niel Otto, 5 Albert Liebenberg, 4 Johan Retief, 3 Justin Forwood, 2 Simon Westraadt, 1 Kudzwai Dube.

Replacements – 16 Janco Uys, 17 Melusi Mthabela, 18 Janu Botha, 19 Godfrey Muzanargwo, 20 Michael Amiras, 21 Johan Mulder, 22 George Whitehead, 23 Ashlon Davids, 24 Francois Staples, 25 Thabo Ndimande, 26 Vaughen Isaacs.

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Morgan Piek

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