OLLIE KEOHANE says SACS need WP Craven Week hooker Liam Larkan to fire against Paarl Boys’ on Saturday.
In 1996, Nick Maurer led SACS to victory over Paarl Boys’. There was another win in 2006. Twenty years later, SACS will be looking to the inspirational Larkan as they attempt to knock over a Paarl Boys’ side boasting eight SA Schools players and a 38-match unbeaten streak.
This year, there is more a sense of belief than just hope in SACS’ hearts that they can win against Paarl Boys’. After running Boland Landbou close with a 28-18 defeat, narrow losses followed against Paarl Gym (17-13) and Paul Roos (37-33). And while second place is not being celebrated, the results have led to a growing belief that the boys from SACS can mix it with the Paarl schools and potentially topple Boys’ High.
Former Western Province hooker Andrew Patterson, whose two sons attended SACS, has added much-needed physicality and grunt to the SACS pack, who will be looking to front and dominate Paarl Boys’ in the scrums and other physical aspects of the game. He believes that you play the game to test yourself against the best and to prove you can be the best. Saturday provides this opportunity.
In an interview with this website, Paarl Boys’ coach Sean Erasmus mentioned his high regard for SACS and the improvements they’ve made in their rugby. He also spoke highly of Larkan, who he described as a player who carries well and gets around the park.
It is Larkan who must stand tall for SACS this Saturday, against a pack he was a provincial teammate of for the last two weeks at Craven Week. He says the boys focused a lot on physicality during the week, but will also be looking to make use of his agility and speed come Saturday.
A match highlight will be the clash of Larkan with Boishaai and SA Schools hooker Daniel Jooste.
‘There’s a healthy respect between us, but I’m looking forward to the chance to come up against him. You could say that we’re “friendly rivals”,’ said Larkan with a grin.
There’s a feeling that Larkan should have been among his Paarl Boys’ rivals in the SA Schools side.
‘The team has already been selected and while I’m disappointed to have missed out, my focus is on performing well for SACS in my last few games, and trying to carry last term’s success into this term,’ says Larkan.
This Saturday’s match will be a spectacle for those who love schoolboy rugby. A talented SACS side up against South Africa’s No 1 side, who among their eight SA Schools players have a point-scoring machine, fullback Gianni Lombard, boasting an impressive 246 points for Paarl Boys’ this season and 46 for WP in three Craven Week matches.
It doesn’t get bigger than hosting Paarl Boys’, and for the SACS matrics, it’s their last game on home soil.
Saturday morning in Newlands is set to be a cracker.
Photo: Peter Heeger/Gallo Images