The dear price Province paid for manic schedule
Western Province coach John Dobson knows he will be excoriated if his team fails to make the Currie Cup play-offs.
However, he is not willing to rush back any players and risk them suffering potential long-term injuries that will impact the team’s performances when they head to Europe next month.
That is why players like Evan Roos and Siyabonga Ntubeni will not feature in the must-win Currie Cup Round 14 showdown with the Sharks in Durban on Saturday.
The team will also feature two flanks at lock at Kings Park, as Dobson deals with an ever-growing injury list.
It is in the second row where the team has been hardest hit – with David Meihuizen (who suffered an ankle injury in the 25-46 loss to Griquas last week), John Schickerling (his second ankle injury this year) and Salmaan Moerat (neck surgery after a training ground mishap) not available at present.
Add to that the fact that Marvin Orie was called up to the Springboks and the reality of Province’s exhausted resources becomes clear.
With Roos (muscle bruising) and Ntubeni (quad injury) also in the sickbay, the pack heading to Durban looks rather threadbare.
In the backline, they miss quality players like Warrick Gelant and Seabelo Senatla through injury.
“In terms of the Currie Cup, those are ‘giant’ players for us,” Dobson told a virtual media briefing – adding that is the “consequences” of having had to play 11 matches since mid-June, including three in eight days.
(Article continues below …)
Like the Sharks, the Stormers were also amongst the teams most impacted by Springbok call-ups – with forwards like Steven Kitshoff, Frans Malherbe and Marvin Orie on national duty.
The backline resources are less affected, with only Herschel Jantjies and Damian Willemse on Bok duty.
However, the depleted second row resources mean two flanks – Johan du Toit and Ernst van Rhyn – will start at lock in Durban.
The absence of the talismanic Roos will also be felt, but Dobson revealed the 21-year-old has taken a couple of knock to the leg and runs the risk of suffering the same setback as Springbok hard man Pieter-Steph du Toit.
Du Toit was at risk of having his leg amputated when a series of knocks resulted in a acute compartment syndrome that required surgery in 2020 and ruled him out for most of the year.
Dobson said it is not worth risking the young loose forward, Roos, in this game.
“If it was a Currie Cup Final, maybe we could have played him,” the coach added.
“We have to be really responsible to the union and to the player’s welfare.”
With the seasoned hooker, Ntubeni, also missing this week’s game with a ‘soft tissue injury’ that could result in a very lengthy lay-off if it is aggravated.
“We desperately want to do well on Saturday ad win in Durban,” the coach said, adding: “We have to be pragmatic and responsible.
“We also have to look forward to the URC [United Rugby Championship in Europe], where we won’t have our Springboks for the first half of the season.
“Our team and franchise will be judged on our performances in the URC and we have to ensure we have a fresh squad for the start of that tournament.”