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Dependable Tinus De Beer looks to celebrate Pumas exodus with second Currie Cup title
In the two seasons De Beer has spent at the Pumas, the flyhalf has helped the team to two Currie Cup finals.
The Pumas lost four Currie Cup matches in succession before shading past the Griquas 27-17 – in what was essentially a quarterfinal clash – and then sneaking past the Sharks 26-20 in the semi-finals on Saturday to make their second consecutive Currie Cup final.
And while the whole squad deserves recognition for their achievements in the past two seasons, the man steering the ship on the field, Tinus de Beer, has been instrumental in everything positive the side from Mbombela does.
A championship-winning side rugby team needs a few things, a big, hardworking pack of forwards, a cohesive backline with some x-factor and a flyhalf who can string it all together.
In De Beer, that’s exactly what head coach Jimmy Stonehouse has. De Beer is not flashy or mercurial in the way he goes about his business. He mostly makes the right decisions and executes perfectly under pressure.
Off the kicking tee, he has been spectacular too, kicking eight out of nine through the uprights in the last two weeks.
And while the Pumas have been accustomed to losing players after a few good seasons in Mbombela, the reliable De Beer will likely be the most difficult to replace as the playmaker makes his way to Cardiff where he will play in the United Rugby Championship (URC) for the Welsh outfit next season.
“I think when you get game time, opportunities to play and when you play for a coach and teammates that really back you, it just makes it a hell of a lot easier,” De Beer told Daily Maverick.
“The Pumas are flipping good to me. I’ll always cherish the moments at the Pumas and I love the union, I love the boys. It’s sad to leave but yeah, it is what it is.”
De Beer’s journey to running out for a URC side’s starting 15 has been precarious.
He was initially on track for big leagues, having played for the South African Schools team in high school before representing the Junior Springboks at the Under-20 World Cup in 2015, where the side finished third.
He found it tough gaining game time at the Bulls behind Handré Pollard and the more experienced Tian Schoeman and Jurgen Visser at the time.
He then moved to the Griquas in 2018 and honed his game in Kimberley before truly finding his feet at the Pumas over the past two seasons.
Not only has De Beer adapted to the Pumas’ tactical game plan, but he also encapsulates the way in which the Pumas approach the game.
His booming right boot drives the team into positive areas of the field while he is courageous in defence, especially for a slightly built flyhalf — a position not characterised by hard tackling.
“Growing up, being a little bit small playing flyhalf and you have big guys running at you, you have got an option: You’re either going to back away or you’re gonna try and try and stop them,” De Beer said.
“I think it’s something deep in you, in your heart, what you feel, your pride… I think that’s the keyword: pride. Just taking pride in defence.
“If he goes over you, he goes over you and if you get him, it’s a win for you.”
In the final three minutes of the Pumas’ semi-final clash against the Sharks, they defended in excess of 25 phases on the edge of their 22m line to keep the Durban-based side at bay.
The Sharks needed a try to secure a home victory but the impenetrable Pumas defence refused to budge an inch in the dying minutes of the match.
Last year, the Pumas finished fourth on the Currie Cup log after the round-robin phase before beating the table-topping Cheetahs 38-35 away from home in the semi-final. They went on to defeat the Griquas 26-19 in the final in Kimberley and win their first-ever Currie Cup.
This season, they overcame the Sharks in Durban and have now set up a replay of last season’s semi-final in Bloemfontein.
A tactically astute game from their dependable pivot — in what will likely be his last match in pink — will be a significant determining factor in the Pumas’ back-to-back title-winning aspirations.
However, the psychological side is equally important, as proven in the Pumas often changing their match kit at halftime from pink and black to black and pink.
“Coach Jimmy, he believes in starting new, starting fresh each half so you’ll see us in the pink kit and then in the black. It’s a little bit of a mindset thing to start on zero again,” De Beer explained.
Despite the fact that winning against the odds has become their forte in the recent past, they will need to own their mantra and “start on zero again” to overcome a determined Cheetahs side in the Currie Cup final on Saturday. DM