AUDIO: Dobson accepts Bok 'request'
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus ‘politely requested’ that Damian Willemse starts at fullback this weekend, says Western Province Currie Cup coach John Dobson.
Western Province has been in sublime form. They accumulated the maximum of 15 points from their three fixtures, which includes the impressive 65-38 win over the Golden Lions in Johannesburg last weekend.
This week John Dobson’s troops host the fifth-placed Griquas, which most pundits regard as an easier task.
However, with a shortened version of the Currie Cup this year, it will be very unwise to underestimate any opponent.
Western Province has momentum, which is going to be vital when they reach the play-offs phase.
However, the release of Springboks Wilco Louw, Bongi Mbonambi‚ Damian Willemse and Sikhumbuzo Notshe have handed Dobson interesting selection options.
This week the coach selected Willemse at fullback, while Mbonambi and Louw join Alistair Vermaak in the front row and Notshe links up with Kobus van Dyk and Juarno Augustus in the loose trio.
“The only voluntary change‚ if you like‚ is lock John Schickerling sitting out,” Dobson told reporters, when asked about the modifications.
“But when you get four guys back from the Springboks, you have to accommodate them. There isn’t a decision to be made about that.
“And obviously it is a massive boost for our team.
“The only Bok who hasn’t played for us in the Currie Cup is Damian [Willemse]‚ so the changes won’t be so disruptive,”
Here is your #DHLWP team that will be looking to make it four wins from four in the Currie Cup when they face Tafel Lager Griquas at #DHLNewlands on Saturday. Tickets available from @computicket. #wpjoulekkerding #WeStandTogether pic.twitter.com/BUqVhJ9AGf
— WP RUGBY (@WP_RUGBY) September 20, 2018
The big talking point in terms of the changes, is the selection of Willemse at fullback instead of flyhalf, giving a clear indication that Springbok coach Erasmus wants to utilise the 20-year-old at fullback with Willie le Roux unavailable for the two home Tests against the Wallabies and All Blacks.
For WP this means that Josh Stander will start at flyhalf, while the in-form Dillyn Leyds provides cover from the bench.
“There was a very polite request from Springbok management to play Damian at fullback this weekend,” Dobson said. “They wouldn’t have minded if we didn’t, but asked if we could.
“Last year we played [Willemse] at fifteen during the final and he was very good,” Dobson stated.
“Furthermore, the way tens and fifteens are playing now…if you watch rugby in England, so often those fifteens are in the first receiver role in that second and third phase. That combination [between Willemse and Stander] should be quite exciting,”
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