Currie Cup could rejuvenate Rudy Paige's once promising career

16 August 2018 - 11:21 By Liam Del Carme
Free State Cheetahs scrumhalf Rudy Paige passes the ball during a SuperSport Rugby Challenge match against Western Province at the Green Point Track, Cape Town on July 1 2018.
Free State Cheetahs scrumhalf Rudy Paige passes the ball during a SuperSport Rugby Challenge match against Western Province at the Green Point Track, Cape Town on July 1 2018.
Image: Chris Ricco/BackpagePix

The Currie Cup has come to mean different things to different people and discarded Springbok scrumhalf Rudy Paige provided refreshing candour when he highlighted the competition’s virtues before Friday’s kick-off.

The 2015 World Cup squad member has been almost forgotten since last playing for the Springboks against Italy in Padua last year.

This season’s Currie Cup provides him the opportunity to kick-start a career that dipped as low as the SuperSport Rugby Challenge for the Cheetahs earlier this year.

“I first have to play good rugby‚” he said when asked whether the competition will allow him to blip on Bok coach Rassie Erasmus’s radar again.

“Earn the trust of my teammates‚ earn the trust of the Cheetahs supporters. It is still a dream‚ something I want to pursue‚ but for now I want to make sure that I’m fit‚ hungry and playing good rugby.”

He’s not alone.

For the bulk of last year the Lions fullback Andries Coetzee was surrounded by players tinged with gold but now he’s in a sea of green.

“It’s a challenge‚” he said about being an elder statesman in the Lions’ ranks. “Maybe at times it will be difficult to pass down my knowledge to the younger players. But maybe I can learn from them‚” said Coetzee.

For Western Province’s EW Viljoen‚ the Currie Cup is an opportunity to pick up the pieces and maybe mend some fences in the process.

“We want to prove to our fans we can go again and do it back-to-back. Super Rugby was a very up and down season for us. I think we disappointed a lot of fans. There is another opportunity for everything and hopefully we can win our fans back.”

The Currie Cup is something Paige holds dear. He doesn’t see this installment as a shot at redemption‚ as a chance to slay some inner beasts.

“It still means a lot. In the past finals the stadiums have been packed. I know my family loves Currie Cup rugby so it means a helluva lot to me. That has‚ and is still the backbone competition of SA. As soon as it starts I believe people will enjoy it.”

On Friday the Pumas host Griquas in the first match before the Free State Cheetahs take on the Blue Bulls.


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