There is no doubt the Currie Cup has lost its shine over the past few years but veteran Blue Bulls flyhalf Marnitz Boshoff is adamant the competition still has an important role to play in the development of rugby in SA.
The Currie Cup has experienced a significant drop in attendance as the competition has been deprived of star players‚ many of whom elect to play overseas when they conclude their Super Rugby and Springbok commitments rather than stick around.
"For me‚ Currie Cup is close to my heart‚" Boshoff said at Loftus as his side prepared for the season opener against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Friday. "It is a valuable competition in SA because it gives youngsters opportunities to prove themselves.
"Back in the day you had big-name players in the competition, but with all the youngsters it is going to be an exciting tournament. People say that this tournament has died but I don’t think so because it remains the premier competition of SA rugby.
"This is where a lot of the future stars start their journeys," he said.
"When I was with the Lions in 2015‚ I played Currie Cup and there is nothing that beats that feeling‚" said Boshoff‚ who played one Test for the Springboks in 2014.
The Bulls’ Super Rugby coach John Mitchell will be involved with the juniors during the tournament.
Pote Human has been given the responsibility of coaching and Boshoff believes they have the right material to do well.
"Our squad is young, but we also have a couple of guys who have played Currie Cup before‚" Boshoff said.
"It is about the youngsters buying into the plan the coach has put in place with regards to the way he wants us to play.
"If we achieve that‚ I think we will have a good chance of doing well in the competition."
"We have lost a couple of players to Japan and to the Springboks. But this is an opportunity for this group of players to play for their future, and if they channel their energies in the right places we will be a force to be reckoned with this season."
Boshoff will miss the season opener as he recovers from a knee injury but he is hoping to be fit for their next match against the Sharks in Durban next weekend.
"It is a massive frustration for me not to be part of the team at the start of the season due to injury‚" he said.
"I have been out for a couple of weeks now.
"The target was to make it this weekend, but that hasn’t happened. I will just keep on working hard and hopefully in the next couple of weeks I will be ready for some game time," Boshoff said.