‘Easy’ for Pumas skipper to follow Willie

Shane Kirkwood is poised to emulate DHL Stormers unfastened ahead Willie Engelbrecht and seize an indicator transfer in his profession after Saturday’s Currie Cup remaining, stories DEVIN HERMANUS.

Final season, Engelbrecht turned the primary Pumas captain to raise the coveted trophy of rugby’s oldest competitors. Now, Kirkwood will lead the defending champions in opposition to the Free State Cheetahs in Bloemfontein this weekend.

The 33-year-old lock was a part of the Pumas workforce that accomplished the rags-to-riches story in 2022, and has been a tower of power for the Lowvelders of their quest to defy expectations as soon as once more and retain their crown.

Talking as Jimmy Stonehouse’s costs stand on the cusp of profitable back-to-back titles, he instructed SA Rugby journal: “It’s been an enormous honour and privilege, this workforce has been really easy to captain. There’s so many gamers of their positions who’re so skilled.

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“It’s been a humbling and superior expertise. Clearly, you possibly can’t be main the workforce and making errors, so from my aspect I simply attempt to be an instance for the man subsequent to me.

“Willie was in Nelspruit final week and we had a fast chat … he was an enormous chief and massive loss for us, and an excellent participant. So from final season, I’ve learnt how he dealt with the ultimate and he did an awesome job.”

On Kirkwood’s impression for the Pumas, Stonehouse mentioned: “Shane is one among our pillars within the workforce, and we wished him just a few years again and he didn’t come. Now he says to me, ‘Coach, it’s one of many largest errors I made in my complete life.’

“However we’re glad he’s right here, he’s an awesome captain, an awesome individual and an awesome man, and we see him like folks [in Free State] see Ruan Pienaar.

“So he’s that sort of man in our workforce who retains issues collectively and could be very, very beneficial for the Pumas. And likewise, being a bit on the older aspect, the standard he produces is simply superb.”

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The Cheetahs completed on the high of the standings within the construct as much as the playoffs and maintain the sting for the decider in Bloem, but the hosts should stay cautious of the Pumas, who triumphed in final yr’s semi-final on Free State soil, and received 61-21 earlier this season.

Kirkwood added: “We weren’t too anxious whether or not we had a goal on our backs this season, however I additionally suppose a lot of folks thought final yr was a once-off win.

“Then after that first week in opposition to the Bulls, folks realised possibly we weren’t a once-off and that we’re right here to do the identical once more this yr. Fortunately we sorted our stuff out simply earlier than the semis and we’re within the remaining once more.

“It’s going to be an enormous recreation and we all know the Cheetahs are going to return out for us, and I see within the media they at all times say they owe us one.

“However we’re not too anxious about that and we’re simply there to play our 80-minute rugby It’ll be about retaining the fellows calm and never worrying about something exterior the whitelines, keep within the second, and hopefully the end result will go our manner.”

Picture: @TheCurrieCup/Twitter

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Printed : 2023-06-24 07:15:34

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