Sikhumbuzo Notshe will start at No 8 for WP on Sunday. Photo: Samuel Shivambu, BackpagePix

Lock Chris van Zyl will captain Western Province as they begin their Currie Cup campaign against the Free State Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Sunday.

Following their bye in the opening round last week, Western Province will get their season started at Toyota Stadium in an encounter which kicks off at 2.30pm on Sunday.

Fullback SP Marais and hooker Ramone Samuels will both make their WP debuts after being named in the starting line-up.

Marais will link up with wings Seabelo Senatla and Bjorn Basson in an exciting back-three, with Dan Kriel and Michal Hazner in the midfield.

Kurt Coleman and Justin Phillips are the starting halfback pairing, and will be backed up by Godlen Masimla and Brandon Thomson on the replacements bench.

In the loose trio Sikhumbuzo Notshe starts at the back of the scrum, with Johan du Toit and Kobus van Dyk on the flanks and Steph de Wit and Jaco Coetzee providing cover among the replacements.

In the second row, JD Schickerling partners captain Van Zyl and in the front row, props Wilco Louw and Ali Vermaak start either side of Samuels, with Scarra Ntubeni set to make his comeback from injury off the replacements bench.

Western Province coach John Dobson said that the challenge for his team will be to find some cohesion in their first game against the defending champions, who have not lost a Currie Cup game since 2015.

“We know that it will be a massive challenge going up to Bloemfontein, but there is no question about the talent in this team. The players are all looking forward to starting this campaign with a real test of our mettle which we know we will get up there,” Dobson said.

“Next week we will welcome back some more players, but I have no doubt this team has the talent to take on what is essentially their full Super Rugby team.” 

Western Province Team

15 SP Marais, 14 Bjorn Basson, 13 Michael Hazner, 12 Dan Kriel, 11 Seabelo Senatla, 10 Kurt Coleman, 9 Justin Phillips, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Johan du Toit, 6 Kobus van Dyk, 5 JD Schickerling, 4 Chris van Zyl (captain), 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Ramone Samuels, 1 Ali Vermaak.

Bench: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 Caylib Oosthuizen, 18 Frans van Wyk, 19 Steph de Wit, 20 Jaco Coetzee, 21 Godlen Masimla, 22 Brandon Thomson.

WP Rugby

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