The ABSA Currie Cup of 2014 starts Friday night in Port Elizabeth at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
Newly promoted EP Kings will host the first game of the season against Western Province. This match starts at 19h00 and SuperSport will broadcast all the matches live and in HD.
This first weekend we will see rivalry back in your houses with some month watering clashes. With Friday night booked for WP being hosted by EP Kings and Saturday we can look forward to the defending champions The Cell C Sharks playing against GWK Griquas in Kimberley.
We then move to Ellis Park were the hungry Golden Lions will be waiting for the Vodacom Bulls and we end of with Cheetahs that will travel to Nelspruit to take on the Steval Pumas who was also promoted to the Premiere Devision.
The Kings have enjoyed some good support from the faithful in PE and should have allot of supporters coming out to support them back in the top league after a 12 year absents. Luke Watson will captain his team as they take on last year’s finalist Western Province.
Juan de Jongh will lead a much-changed WP outfit, which will include fit again Springboks Eben Etzebeth (lock) and Frans Malherbe (prop). The latter two were released from Springbok duty in order to get some much-needed game time after returning from lengthy injury lay-offs.
With the remaining three matches scheduled for Saturday you do not need to wonder what to do for Saturday afternoon.
GWK Griquas play host to champions The Sharks in Kimberley. The Kimberley outfit will be hoping to repeat their heroics of last season when they defeated the Sharks at home in Durban. Kick-off for this game is 14h45.
Griquas regained entry to the Premiere League after just managing to hold off the Leopards in a thrilling qualifying competition.
Coach Hawies Fourie and his team will be relishing the prospects of facing the defending champions in their first match. The Griquas team will be one of the teams with moment.
The second match of the afternoon the Xerox Golden Lions and Vodacom Blue Bulls meet at Ellis Park at 17h00.
Coach Johan Ackermann have develop the Lions into a formidable unit when playing at Ellis Park and this clash has all the ingredients to produce a typical South African derby.
Captain and No 8 Warren Whiteley is enjoying a good season so far, leading a youthful Lions franchise team in Vodacom Super Rugby and winning a gold medal with the Springbok Sevens team at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
The Bulls are rebuilding after a disappointing campaign last season when they lost a host of established stars.
However, with Frans Ludeke back in the coaching seat after taking over the reigns from Pine Pienaar, the Pretoria team have some of the country’s most outstanding young talent from which to choose.
Ludeke has handed the skipper duties to flanker Deon Stegmann.
In the remaining fixture on Saturday the Steval Pumas are home in Nelspruit against the Toyota Free State Cheetahs.
Coach, Jimmy Stonehouse, helped the Pumas to go 14 games unbeaten and to win the First Division title in impressive fashion last year, a feat which saw him scoop the Absa Coach of the Year prize at the annual SARU Player of the Year awards.
Corné Steenkamp will play in a landmark 150th first class match when he leads the Pumas onto the field in Nelspruit.
As for the Cheetahs, they are expected to be challenging again for a top four spot despite losing many stalwarts to other provinces or overseas clubs.
They have in Coach Rory Duncan and captain Torsten van Jaarsveld two new men at the helm.
The Absa Currie Cup Premier Division fixtures for this weekend – Round 1
Friday, 8 August
EP Kings vs DHL Western Province
Venue: Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth
Referee: Jaco Peyper
Assistant Referees: Christie du Preez, Jaco Pretorius
TMO: Deon van Blommestein
Saturday, 9 August
GWK Griquas vs Cell C Sharks
Venue: GWK Park, Kimberley
Referee: Craig Joubert
Assistant Referees: Louwrens van der Merwe, Francois de Bruin
TMO: JJ Wagner
Golden Lions vs Vodacom Blue Bulls
Venue: Ellis Park, Johannesburg
Referee: Jaco van Heerden
Assistant Referees: Stuart Barry, Ben Crouse
TMO: Johan Greeff
Steval Pumas vs Toyota Free State Cheetahs
Venue: Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen
Assistant Referees: Gerrie du Bruin, Stefan Breytenbach
TMO: Willie Vos