Cape Town – Western Province have shown that they are serious about mounting a bid for the Currie Cup title as coach John Dobson has called on a number of Stormers stars for Friday’s clash against Griquas in Kimberley (3pm kickoff).
While Springboks such as Steven Kitshoff, Joseph Dweba, Frans Malherbe, Deon Fourie, Herschel Jantjies, Manie Libbok and Damian Willemse were part of the national team camp in Durban this week, several players who featured in last weekend’s URC final defeat to Munster were picked in the WP side that will be in action in the Northern Cape.
Clayton Blommetjies, Angelo Davids and Leolin Zas will form a lethal back-three, while powerful centre Ruhan Nel will partner Juan de Jongh in midfield.
There is a young flyhalf in Jurie Matthee, as Jean-Luc du Plessis is still undergoing concussion protocols, and the Maties captain who will have the lively Paul de Wet at scrumhalf to guide him around the field.
Hacjivah Dayimani, Ben-Jason Dixon and Marcel Theunissen are a dynamic loose trio, and there is a new captain in tighthead prop Neethling Fouché, who will pack down alongside the experienced Scarra Ntubeni and Ali Vermaak in the scrums.
Lock Ruben van Heerden and loose forward Willie Engelbrecht will provide real physicality from the bench to try and stop Griquas’ second-half onslaught.
With the fourth-placed WP, Lions (fifth) and Blue Bulls (sixth) all on 31 log points and Griquas seventh with 30, the Kimberley clash is effectively a knockout encounter, as there is just one more league game left next weekend before the semi-finals.
“It has never been easy to win in Kimberley, and that is exactly what we need to do to stay in the playoff race, so it will take a big effort,” Dobson said on Thursday.
“We have a bit more experience available this week, and it was fantastic to see the attitude of the Stormers players who want to play in this match.
“We also have players who have already given a lot in this campaign, and are looking forward to seeing another committed performance in a crucial game.”
Western Province team: 15 Clayton Blommetjies 14 Angelo Davids 13 Ruhan Nel 12 Juan de Jongh 11 Leolin Zas 10 Jurie Matthee 9 Paul de Wet 8 Hacjivah Dayimani 7 Ben-Jason Dixon 6 Marcel Theunissen 5 Connor Evans 4 Adré Smith 3 Neethling Fouché (captain) 2 Scarra Ntubeni 1 Ali Vermaak.
Bench: 16 André-Hugo Venter 17 Leon Lyons 18 Lee-Marvin Mazibuko 19 Ruben van Heerden 20 Willie Engelbrecht 21 Louw Nel 22 Godlen Masimla 23 Cornel Smit.