It's that time of week where we put our heads on the chopping block with Planet Rugby's weekend predictions for the scheduled action.
It's that time of week where we put our heads on the chopping block with Planet Rugby's weekend predictions.
No sooner has the Super Rugby season ended, the focus switches to Friday's Currie Cup kick-off a week before the Top 14, Rugby Championship and ITM Cup begin. 2014/15 is fast approaching.
Let's face facts there is no off-season anymore in rugby union, but lovers of the game wouldn't have it any other way, especially those determined to make some cash on the markets available with Paddy Power. Here we go then as we select our bets for the Currie Cup season and round one.
Reigning champions the Sharks are the 2/1 favourites to lift the coveted trophy in 2014 but there a couple of things putting us off them. Springbok players are set to be away for the majority, if not all, the competition while JP Pietersen and Keegan Daniel are now in Japan.
Therefore we are going for the Golden Lions to take the spoils at 4/1, with the spine of their line-up strong, particularly the back-row of Derick Minnie, Jaco Kriel and Warren Whiteley.
Action kicks-off on Friday with a battle between East and West on the south coast of Africa.
Eben Etzebeth and Frans Malherbe's release from the Springboks squad this week is a boost to WP while the battle between former Stormers playmaker Gary van Aswegan and Demetri Catrakilis is an intriguing and important one in how this result will play out.
While we think Western Province will win, the safest bet on offer from Paddy Power is the EP Kings +13 handicap. WP won't run away with matters at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
The big game of the round comes from Johannesburg where the 2011 winners take on a Blue Bulls outfit who have not lifted the silverware since 2009. The hosts look the stronger on paper and we expect the Golden Lions to win this by more than the -4 point handicap.
Whiteley, Marnitz Boshoff and Lionel Mapoe are a key trio for Johan Ackermann and expect them to shine against a weakened Blue Bulls XV. Mapoe would be a good anytime try bet.