CAPE TOWN - Despite missing a number of stalwarts due to either injury or national duty, Western Province coach John Dobson is confident about the depth of his team as they complete their final preparations for their match against the Pumas at Mbombela Stadium on Friday(7.15 pm kickoff).
Province will head into the fixture in Nelspruit without Springbok fullback Dillyn Leyds and tighthead prop Wilco Louw - who was called up to join the Bok squad in New Zealand earlier this week after Coenie Oosthuizen broke his arm in their 23-all draw against the Wallabies in Perth on Saturday.
But that’s only two of their key men - as players like hooker Scarra Ntubeni and fullback SP Marais are on the injury list, while Siya Kolisi, Eben Etzebeth, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Bongi Mbonambi, Steven Kitshoff and Damian de Allende are on tour in Australasia.
“I’m pleased to have Seabelo (Senatla) back, it’s tough on Werner (Kok), but that’s the nice thing about this team - if you think that guys like Dan Kriel, Kobus van Dyk and Steph de Wit, Johan du Toit and a couple of props aren’t on the trip, the depth is great, especially among the outside backs. Dillyn Leyds will hopefully be back soon as well,” Dobson said.
Fit-again Senatla is the only change to WP’s backline that thrashed the Free State Cheetahs 57-14 last weekend as he returns to the right wing, with his Springbok Sevens teammate Kok providing cover on the bench and centre Kriel dropping out of the matchday squad.
Up front, Nizaam Carr, who will start at No 8, will make his 50th appearance for WP when he runs out at Mbombela Stadium, and he will start in the loose trio alongside Van Dyk, who comes in for Cobus Wiese, and Jaco Coetzee.
In the front row, JC Janse van Rensburg and Michael Kumbirai come into the starting line-up at loosehead and tighthead prop respectively.
Alistair Vermaak and Caylib Oosthuizen - who can play at both loosehead and tighthead - will provide front-row cover, while loose forward Sikhumbuzo Notshe will look to build on his post-injury form with an appearance off the bench.