CAPE TOWN – Western Province coach John Dobson is confident his team consisting of mostly SuperSport Rugby Challenge players has the talent to take on what is “essentially a full Super Rugby” Free State Cheetahs team.
Province will kick off their Currie Cup campaign in Bloemfontein on Sunday after having a bye in the first round last week, and only a few Super Rugby regulars will form part of Dobson’s team.
Earlier this week, Dobson said the side for the weekend would be a hybrid of Super Rugby players and SuperSport Challenge players, and added that, for injury management reasons, the team would feature mostly Challenge players and those who didn’t get a lot of Super Rugby game time.
Lock Chris van Zyl will captain the side in Bloemfontein, and fullback SP Marais and hooker Ramone Samuels will both make their Province debuts in the run-on side.
The back three will also see wings Seabelo Senatla, who had a number of Super Rugby starts this season, and Bjorn Basson fill out the outside backs, while Dan Kriel and Michal Hazner will start in midfield.
JD Schickerling will partner-up with Van Zyl in the second row, and tighthead Wilco Louw and loosehead Ali Vermaak will pack down on either side of Samuels, with Scarra Ntubeni set to make his comeback from injury off the bench.
Dobson also made it clear just how much confidence he had in his team.
“We know how dangerous they are from turnovers, we know how good their set-piece is, we know how good their maul is and we know their defence is quick.”
“What they do is brilliant. But last week we saw the Sharks create a few opportunities, and that’s what we’re going to try and exploit.”
“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.
Free State Cheetahs: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Rosco Specman, 13 Francois Venter, 12 William Small-Smith, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Niel Marais, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Uzair Cassiem, 7 Oupa Mohoje, 6 Neill Jordaan, 5 Reniel Hugo, 4 Justin Basson, 3 Tom Botha, 2 Joseph Dweba, 1 Charles Marais. Replacements: 16 Ox Nche, 17 Reinach Venter, 18 Rynier Bernardo, 19 Henco Venter, 20 Zee Mkhabela, 21 Rayno Benjamin, 22 Malcolm Jaer
Western Province: 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. Replacements: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 Caylib Oosthuizen, 18 Frans van Wyk, 19 Steph de Wit, 20 Jaco Coetzee, 21 Godlen Masimla, 22 Brandon Thomson.