CAPE TOWN – While Western Province have welcomed back Springboks Damian de Allende and Wilco Louw, coach John Dobson has also made a number of changes to his side that will travel to Nelspruit for their Currie Cup date with the Pumas on Friday (kick-off 7pm).
Centre De Allende and tighthead prop Louw have both been released from the Springbok squad for the clash at the Mbombela Stadium.
Dillyn Leyds, who captained the team in their 32-0 victory against the Free State Cheetahs last week and against Montpellier in their second pre-season friendly in France, will continue in the leadership role.
Saturday's teamsheet will also feature Leyds at fullback, after he started on the left wing last weekend, while SP Marais and Sergeal Petersen will run out on the wing.
De Allende will start at inside centre alongside Ruhan Nel in the place of Dan Kriel, and Craig Barry - who missed out last week - Dan du Plessis and Herschel Jantjies will offer backline cover on the bench.
“It's nice to have him (De Allende) back. The Sprinboks want him to get some game time, he hasn't played since towards the end of Super Rugby,” Dobson said during yesterday's team announcement at Newlands.
“He has trained incredibly hard, so now he just has to get on the field.”
While Dobson explained that some of the changes to the backline were injury-enforced, he also said that he feels this is the right line-up to hunt their second consecutive competition win at Mbombela Stadium.
“We feel that this is the right way around for the game we're expecting,” he said.
“JJ (Engelbrecht) is injured, he's got a thigh. Salmaan Moerat took a big knock (against the Cheetahs) and to me a six-day turnaround seemed too risky for such a young player, he's not 100 percent and he's got such a massive role to play at the union.”
“Chris (van Zyl) hasn't played for a long time, so he needs to focus on his game (so Leyds will lead the team again).”
Dobson also said that they're expecting a big kicking game from the Pumas, and he was confident that the backline he's selected will be able to handle it.
“All three of them are brilliant in the air and Craig Barry will also be good in that regard when he comes on.”
“We just felt that Dillyn's counter-attacking skills...he's got a bit more options at 15. At 15 he'll have a bit more freedom to strike on that field.”
“Sergeal came on last week, and he was very good. He played like it was dry. He's very good in the air and at his best he's one of the best wings in South Africa. So this is the right place to get him on the field.”
Up front, Ernst van Rhyn comes into the starting line-up at lock, with Van Zyl set to make his return from he bench. With Louw back in the mix, Michael Kumbirai moves to the bench as well.
“I thought Wilco was very good when he came on last week against Argentina, so for us to have him back is a treat.”
“He just needs a bit of game time, and what's nice about these guys is that they're so keen to play for us.”
The Western Province team is:
15 Dillyn Leyds (captain), 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Ruhan Nel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 SP Marais, 10 Josh Stander, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Juarno Augustus, 7 Kobus van Dyk, 6 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 5 JD Schickerling, 4 Ernst van Rhyn, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Ali Vermaak.
Replacements: 16 Chad Solomon, 17 Caylib Oosthuizen, 18 Michael Kumbirai, 19 Chris van Zyl, 20 Herschel Jantjies, 21 Dan du Plessis, 22 Craig Barry.