Cape Town – Western Province received a major boost ahead of their crucial Currie Cup clash against the Golden Lions at Newlands on Saturday, with the timely return from injury of key players Rynhardt Elstadt and Frans Malherbe.
WP coach Allister Coetzee the timing of the return of key players was crucial for the team's progress ahead of the season-ending play-offs.
“It could not have happened at a better time,” coach Allister Coetzee said in Bellville on Monday.
“We need to show progress in terms of the way we perform on the field of play. It's not only Rynhardt and Frans coming back but we also have Gary van Aswegen and all of this is happening while Schalk Burger has made a highly successful return to the game.”
Coetzee said things would get even better when he had his Springbok players back next week, depending on their condition.
“Players like Jean De Villiers and Duane Vermeulen have started every game for the Boks and we will be mindful of that.
“Then there are players like Siya Kolisi who hasn't had all that much game time and he'll want to play.
“We've reached that stage of the season where we can't apply the rotation policy and we need to send the best players out on the park for every match.”
The additional forwards might result in Province settling for a 5-2 (5 forwards, 2 backs) split instead of the conventional 4-3 on the substitute bench.
“We will assess what the strengths are of the teams we're up against and then decide what split we'll settle for.
“For now, it looks like our opponents could send out formidable packs with excellent back-up and it's something worth taking note of.”
Flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis, the hero of Province's last-gasp win over the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein last weekend, the return of pivot Van Aswegen, and consistent performances from Kurt Coleman left Coetzee with an abundance of flyhalf options.
“Demetri knows our systems and has been in the match-day squad of 22 players of late,” said Coetzee.
“He has settled in nicely (since arriving from the Kings) and we'll make a call on the number 10s once we've considered what the Lions will bring to the game. We also are mindful of the role of certain players while the Boks were away and I can honestly say we've made progress.
“This week, we face a team with an attacking mindset and we'll prepare for that. There is so much at stake for both teams, in terms of reaching the semis, and we're excited about our prospects.” – Sapa