The two best hookers in the world will go head-to-head in the most delectable sideshow of the weekend’s action. Rugby365 Jan de Koning look at the massive head to head between Bismarck and Adriaan
Bismarck du Plessis and Adriaan Strauss were Springbok teammates for eight weeks and only a fortnight ago returned to their domestic teams for the Currie Cup competition’s final rounds.
On Saturday, when the Sharks host the Free State Cheetahs in a Currie Cup semifinal in Durban, the contrasting styles of Du Plessis and Strauss will be on display.
Their respective fan clubs remain steadfast in their declaration of which hooker is actually the best and it doesn’t actually help that Bok coach Heyneke Meyer refuses to make a definitive call on the subject either.
Sharks assistant coach Sean Everitt knows who he backs, but he readily acknowledges the threat posed by the visitors from Bloemfontein.
“It is always interesting battles and they always enjoy playing against each other,” Everitt told this website, when asked about the duel between the two Bok hookers.
“Having shared the Bok No.2 jersey during the Rugby Championship, I am sure they have become good mates as well.
“It will be an interesting duel, but I don’t think it is about Bismark versus Adriaan, it is about a team performance.”
What Everitt did concede is that the allure of the head-to-head battle is in the difference in styles of the two players.
“With Adriaan, we are well aware that he carries the ball well in midfield, along with [prop] Coenie [Oosthuizen],” the Sharks mentor told this website.
“They will be strengthened in that department, especially with their wide-to-wide play.
“When they go wide and come back Adriaan normally carries the ball up in midfield.
“He’ll certainly add a lot of value.
“Obviously for us Bismarck’s physicality adds value and he offers us leadership.
“The guys enjoy being around Bismarck and he leads from the front.”
While the Sharks had half-a-dozen players return from international duty, against just the two of the Cheetahs, it is the influence of the two front row forwards on the Free State team that poses the biggest threat to the home team’s chance of reaching another Currie Cup Final.
“Adriaan Strauss and Coenie Oosthuizen really add a lot to the Cheetahs,” Everitt said, adding: “We saw from their performances in Super Rugby just how good they really are.
“Obviously we have the Strauss factor – he is a fantastic leader,” he said of the hooker who is not just Cheetahs captain, but was also Bok vice-captain in Du Plessis’ injury enforced absence for almost a year.
“When he plays for the Cheetahs they seem to play really well and are motivated.
“We are very wary of that.”
The other player who could pose a problem is Bok flyhalf Johan Goosen – who will get time off the bench again, after making his first appearance in a 15-minute cameo last week after months on the sideline, following knee surgery.
“Obviously with the return of [Johan] Goosen at flyhalf [when he comes on in the second half], it will give them a different dimension as far as the kicking game is concerned,” Everitt added.