Province held up by SA squad announcement
By Herman R Gibbs, Cape Dreams Editor
DHL Western Province’s preparations for their opening 2014 Currie Cup game have been hamstrung by the timing of the Springbok squad announcement which will be made in Johannesburg on Saturday.
Several WP players are expected to be named in the national squad which will play in the Castle Lager Rugby Championship next month and that will rule them out for Currie Cup duty.
Players like Jean de Villiers, Duane Vermeulen, Schalk Burger, Juan de Jongh, Siya Kolisi, Frans Malherbe, Nazeem Carr, Eben Etzebeth and Pat Cilliers are all strong contenders.
Allister Coetzee, the WP coach, said it was also not possible to decide on a team captain at this stage. Coetzee had the WP squad working out on Tuesday at Langa, as part of WP’s on-going community outreach programme.
“There’s no point in naming the captain at this stage because he might be taken up by the Boks, and then we’ll be forced to look for another,” said Coetzee. “I also don’t know just how the team for the opening game will look like but at this stage I’m sitting with a whole lot of selection permutations.
“I’m happy when players make the Bok squad but when I have my WP cap on, I also wish they can play for us.”
Loose forwards Burger and Vermeulen were rested on Tuesday as well as centre Juan de Jongh who is nursing a bump on his right knee.
Lock Ruan Botha is recovering from a knee injury and will undergo scans on Wednesday to determine his condition.
Prop Malherbe has recovered fully after a protracted lay-off because of concussion.
“It has required a massive effort from our medical team to ensure that players are ready for Currie Cup duty,” said Coetzee. “Etzebeth has worked hard to regain fitness and he’s ready to play. I would like to see him work on his match fitness by playing for us before the Boks call him up. Malherbe has now reached a stage where he can take full contact and he too could do with match action ahead of a call-up.”
There are, however, a few players returning from injury will be considered for the opening match in 10 days time, Port Elizabeth.
They include hooker Scarra Ntubeni, prop Oliver Kebble, centre Damian de Allende, locks Jurie van Vuuren and Rhynardt Elstadt. These players could come into the reckoning for selection when WP plays the Bulls later in August.
The former Bishops schoolboy, Dillyn Leyds, a versatile backliner who spent the past Super Rugby season with the Aussie outfit Western Force, will return to Western Province in two weeks time.
WP, last season’s losing finalists, play Eastern Province at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, in Port Elizabeth, on Friday August 8.
Coetzee said with former All Black Carlos Spencer now the coach of EP, he expects them to play “with lots of width in an expansive game plan.”
Coetzee said the main objective would be to ensure that the team made a winning start to the season.