Cape Town – Western Province has been given a boost by the arrival of enterprising centre Juan de Jongh, who has been omitted from the 26-member Springbok squad which has set off for Argentina.
De Jongh is likely to secure a run-on berth in WP’s side to play Griquas in Kimberley on Saturday.
WP coach Allister Coetzee was pleased to welcome back the midfielder at Monday’s team meeting in Bellville.
“We’re very happy to have Juan back and he’s available for selection. There are no restrictions placed on him by the Springbok management, and he’s looking forward to getting back on the field,” said Coetzee.
“It’s a boost to have a Bok returning to the ranks. It is in his interest to get game time under the belt and wage a fresh challenge for Springboks inclusion.
“He has not played with the players in our present squad but I’m sure he’ll slot in seamlessly.”
There was concern about the fitness of flyhalf Gary van Aswegen, who took a heavy knock to the shoulder against the Free State Cheetahs, at Newlands, on Saturday night.
The medical staff will be keeping a close watch on Van Aswegen’s position and he will he kept under wraps for the next two days.
“Gary will be rested from training and then on Wednesday we’ll assess his condition,” said Coetzee.
“I am worried about his condition but I think he’ll be fit to play against the Griquas. Should Gary not pass a fitness test, I’m likely to call on Kurt Coleman, Tim Swiel or even Michael van der Spuy.”
Centre Pat Howard, who went off in the second half during the Newlands clash, is battling with “tight” hamstrings, according to Coetzee.
He has also been withdrawn from training, although with De Jongh’s return he is earmarked for a substitute’s role against Griquas.
“We’ve been training in wet conditions for some time and that has made the players take strain, more so the backs, because they run so much more,” said Coetzee.
“I still expect to have him fit by the weekend, and by then he won’t be experiencing tightness in his hamstrings.”
The other flyhalf in the WP squad is Kings recruit Demetri Catrakilis, who is nursing a shoulder injury.
“Demetri is probably about three weeks away from returning to training,” said Coetzee.
“He has started attending our video and team sessions so that he becomes familiar with our playing patterns.”
The other injury concern is Howard, who was forced to leave the field in the second half at Newlands.
“It is nothing more than tightness of the hamstrings and he’ll be withdrawn from training for while.”
Howard is earmarked for a substitute’s role against Griquas on Saturday because of De Jongh's return. – Sapa