Cape Town - Defending Currie Cup champions Western Province have selected a star-studded replacement bench for Saturday's semi-final against the Golden Lions at Newlands.
Coach Allister Coetzee said the reserves which included Springbok flanker Schalk Burger and centre Juan de Jongh were chosen to counter the Lions' strong second-half performances.
“This is quite a good bench to match the Lions' intensity which we've seen peak towards the end of matches,” Coetzee said on Wednesday.
“At the start of the season, we couldn't rely on our bench to make an impact in the second half. Now, we're spoilt for choice.”
Players who had done so well during the season, like Rynhard Elstadt and Nazeem Carr, could not make the match-day 22 for Saturday.
Coetzee said it was tough on the players but he needed his best players on the field.
De Jongh, who was forced to withdraw from last week's match in Durban with a thigh strain, had recovered and was named on the bench.
“Juan has come through nicely and will be playing off the bench as he can't make it through 80 minutes of play at this stage,” Coetzee said.
“We have new challenges this week against the Lions and we're happy that Juan and someone like Schalk Burger can join the action with loads of experience, which is so crucial in knock-out matches.”
Springbok captain and centre Jean de Villiers has moved off the bench into this week's run-on XV where he will partner with Damian de Allende in midfield.
“Last week it was about giving Jean a break,” Coetzee said.
“He's looking forward to the game and will be the vice-captain on Saturday.”
Province's assistant coach Robbie Fleck said De Allende's game had progressed so far that he was now classed among the best centres in the country.
“Damian has been exceptional in getting us over the advantage line and his game has reached a stage where he is one of the best centres in South Africa,” said Fleck.
“He has started to show class with his distribution skills and he brings our forwards into the game. Last year he played at the same stage of the Currie Cup and his contribution was huge.”
Western Province team: Gio Aplon, Gerhard van den Heever, Jean de Villiers, Damian de Allende, Cheslin Kolbe, Demetri Catrakilis, Louis Schreuder, Duane Vermeulen, Siya Kolisi, Deon Fourie (captain), De Kock Steenkamp, Eben Etzebeth, Pat Cilliers, Scarra Ntubeni, Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: Frans Malherbe, Brok Harris, Michael Rhodes, Schalk Burger, Nic Groom, Kurt Coleman, Juan de Jongh.