If the number of SA Schools' players was anything to go by the Sharks would be the favourites to bag their ninth Currie Cup title since that fateful day back in 1990 when they surprised Northern Transvaal, as the Blue Bulls was then known as, at Loftus Versfeld to bag win the prestigious competition for the first time.
The Sharks have more than double the number of former SA Schools' players in their squad for the final. Of the former 19 SA Schools' players that will be in action in Saturday's final 13 of them will be in action for the team from Durban. The Bulls have six former SA Schools players in their squad of 27 named for the final.
An interesting fact is that all four hookers named in the two squads - Johan Grobbelaar (2015), Schalk Erasmus (2016), Fez Mbatha (2017), and Dan Jooste (2016) represented the national schools' side. Add Dylan Richardson (2016-17) to the mix there will be no less than five former SA Schools' hookers in action in the final.
The SA Schools' scrumhalves are also abundant with Jaden Hendrikse (2017), Embrose Papier (2014-15), Marco Jansen van Vuren (2013-14), and Sanele Nohamba (2016-17) all making the step-up. Jansen van Vuren will don the Nr 13-jersey for the final as he's done in the semi-final for the Blue Bulls after an injury ruled Stedman Gans (Waterkloof) out.
The SA Schools' selectors who are tasked to identifying forwards will be smiling as 12 of the 19 SA Schools' players in the finals are forwards. This is remarkable as it is usually backline players who move quicker through the system.
The Blue Bulls will be attempting to end an 11-year drought in the competition. If they succeed it will be their 24th title since the union was founded in 1938.
Some traditionalists will however frown upon the Bulls entering the arena that is Loftus Versfeld at 15:00 for the clash. For the first time in 33 finals, the Blue Bulls will not be donning their traditional light-blue jersey with its instantly recognisable Barberton Daisy on the chest.
The total of 33 finals that Northern Transvaal/Blue Bulls have participated in since the competition's first final back in 1939 is the most by any union. They have played in 33 of the 57 finals to date.
The school with the most representatives in the final is the Afrikaans Hoër Seunskool from Pretoria who has four players in Ivan van Zyl, Schalk Erasmus, Marnus Potgieter, and Ruben van Heerden who will be in action in the final. Garsfontein and Grey College is in second place with three representatives each.
Vodacom Bulls: 15 David Kriel (Grey College), 14 Kurt-Lee Arendse (Paulus Joubert), 13 Marco Jansen van Vuren (Transvalia), 12 Cornal Hendricks (Bergrivier), 11 Stravino Jacobs (Paarl Gimnasium), 10 Morné Steyn (Sand du Plessis), 9 Ivan van Zyl (Affies), 8 Duane Vermeulen (Nelspruit - captain), 7 Elrigh Louw (Transvalia), 6 Marco van Staden (Bekker), 5 Ruan Nortje (Wonderboom), 4 Sintu Manjezi (St Andrew's College), 3 Trevor Nyakane (Ben Vorster), 2 Johan Grobbelaar (Paarl Gimnasium), 1 Lizo Gqoboka (Ntabankulu). Replacements: 16 Schalk Erasmus (Affies), 17 Jacques van Rooyen (Pretoria-Noord), 18 Mornay Smith (Eldoraigne), 19 Jan Uys (Paul Roos Gimnasium), 20 Arno Botha (Nylstroom), 21 Embrose Papier (Garsfontein), 22 Chris Smith (SACS), 23 Marnus Potgieter (Affies), 25 Gerhard Steenekamp (Potchefstroom Gimnasium), 26 Keagan Johannes (Garsfontein), 27 Jade Stighling (Hans Moore).
Cell C Sharks: 15 Aphelele Fassi (Dale College), 14 Sbu Nkosi (Jeppe High School for Boys'), 13 Lukhanyo Am (De Vos Malan - captain), 12 Marius Louw (Grey College), 11 Yaw Penxe (Queen's College), 10 Curwin Bosch (Grey High School), 9 Jaden Hendrikse (Glenwood), 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe (Wynberg Boys' High), 7 Henco Venter (Grey College), 6 Dylan Richardson (Kearsney College), 5 Ruben van Heerden (Affies), 4 JJ van der Mescht (Glenwood), 3 Thomas du Toit (Paarl Boys' High, 2 Fezokuhle Mbatha (Maritzburg College), 1 Ox Nche (Louis Botha). Replacements: 16 Dan Jooste (Paarl Boys' High), 17 Mzamo Majola (Westville Boys' High), 18 Michael Kumbirai (St Alban's College), 19 Hyron Andrews (Garsfontein), 20 Thembelani Bholi (Jamangile Secondary), 21 Sanele Nohamba (Durban High School), 22 Jeremy Ward (Grey High School), 23 Manie Libbok (Outeniqua).
Referee: Jaco Peyper (Grey College)
Schools and their players for the Currie Cup Final of 2021:
4 - Affies (Ivan van Zyl, Schalk Erasmus, Marnus Potgieter, Ruben van Heerden)
3 - Garsfontein (Embrose Papier, Hyron Andrews, Keagan Johannes), Grey College (David Kriel, Marius Louw, Henco Venter).
2 - Transvalia (Marco Jansen van Vuren, Elrigh Louw), Paarl Gimnasium (Stravino Jacobs, Johan Grobbelaar), Glenwood (Jaden Hendrikse, JJ van der Mescht), Grey High School (Curwin Bosch, Jeremy Ward), Paarl Boys' High (Thomas du Toit, Dan Jooste).
1 - Ben Vorster (Trevor Nyakane), Paulus Joubert (Kurt-Lee Arendse), Bergrivier (Cornal Hendricks), Sand du Plessis (Morné Steyn), Ntanbankulu (Lizo Gqoboka), Wonderboom (Ruan Nortje), Nelspruit (Duane Vermeulen), Bekker (Marco van Staden), St Andrew's College (Sintu Manjezi), De Vos Malan (Lukhanyo Am), Dale College (Aphelele Fassi), Pretoria-Noord (Jacques van Rooyen), Eldoraigne (Mornay Smith), Nylstroom (Arno Botha), Outeniqua (Manie Libbok), St Alban's College (Michael Kumbirai), Durban High School (Sanele Nohamba), Jamangile Secondary (Thembelani Bholi), Westville Boys' High (Mzamo Majola), Kearsney College (Dylan Richardson), Louis Botha (Ox Nche), Queen's College (Yaw Penxe), Wynberg Boys' High (Sikhumbuzo Notshe), SACS (Chris Smith), Paul Roos Gimnasium (Jan Uys), Maritzburg College (Fez Mbatha), Potchefstroom Gimnasium (Gerhard Steenekamp), Hans Moore (Jade Stighling), Jeppe High School for Boys' (Sbu Nkosi).
SA Schools' Players:
Blue Bulls (6): Marco Jansen van Vuren (2013-14), Stravino Jacobs (2018), Johan Grobbelaar (2015), Schalk Erasmus (2016), Mornay Smith (2016), Embrose Papier (2014-15).
Sharks (13): Curwin Bosch (2014-15), Jaden Hendrikse (2017), Sikhumbuzo Notshe (2010-11), Dylan Richardson (2016-17), Ruben van Heerden (2015), JJ van der Mescht (2016-17), Thomas du Toit (2013), Fez Mbatha (2017), Ox Nche (2012-13), Dan Jooste (2016), Michael Kumbirai (2014), Sanele Nohamba (2016-17), Manie Libbok (2015).