VIDEO: Province 'limp' into season-opener
INJURY UPDATE: Injuries to key players could seriously hamper Western Province’s Currie Cup campaign.
WP coach John Dobson, who puts a very high premium on winning the Currie Cup, admitted he has a few concerns ahead of their season-opener – when they host arch-rivals the Blue Bulls in a big north-south derby at Newlands on Saturday.
Apart from a wealth of players on Springbok World Cup duty – Pieter-Steph du Toit, Eben Etzebeth, Steven Kitshoff, Siyamthanda Kolisi, Frans Malherbe, Bongi Mbonambi, Damian de Allende, Herschel Jantjies and Dillyn Lleyds – they are struggling with a host of injuries.
The injuries that most concern Dobson are Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Alister Vermaak, Sergeal Petersen and Jano Vermaak – who will all be sidelined for a few weeks.
Then there are the long-term injuries – centre Daniel du Plessis, Cobus Wiese, Johan du Toit and Kobus van Dyk.
It is unlikely any of the latter group will play again this season.
“[We are without] four very good loose forwards, so we will be tested in that department,” Dobson told a media briefing at the team’s training ground in Bellville, north of Cape Town, on Monday.
“[We are also] a little bit thin at centre,” he said, adding: “[For] the rest we are good.”
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The one player on national duty Dobson felt the need to single out is utility back Dillyn Lleyds, recalled to the Springbok team, whom he described as a ‘talismanic’ figure in the team – key to the way they want to play the game.
The WP coach made it clear that because the Currie Cup is a single round competition of just six league matches, winning has become absolutely vital from the outset.
One slip could cost you a spot in the play-offs.
“The one upside of the curtailed Currie Cup, it gives us a chance for a proper ‘rest, rebuild, recover’ and get some energy back in the [Super Rugby] campaign for next year,” Dobson said.
Following the league phase of the competition – which will see all seven teams play six games each – the top four will go through to the semifinals, with the Final scheduled to be played on Saturday, September 7.
Dobson said that the squad is excited about the challenge that lies ahead of them.
Western Province squad: Juarno Augustus, Kwenzo Blose, Craig Barry, Jaco Coetzee, Paul de Wet, Johan du Toit, Jean-Luc du Plessis, Neethling Fouche, Corne Fourie, Liam Hendricks, Michael Kumbirai, Dan Kriel, Wilco Louw, Godlen Masimla, Chris Massyn, SP Marais, David Meihuizen, Salmaan Moerat, Ruhan Nel, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Siyabonga Ntubeni, Sergeal Petersen, Justin Phillips, Marno Redelinghuys, Ramone Samuels, Carlu Sadie, John Schickerling, Seabelo Senatla, Chad Solomon, Josh Stander, Edwill van der Merwe, Ernst van Rhyn, Chris van Zyl, Jano Vermaak, Ali Vermaak, Nama Xaba.
By Jan de Koning