Cape Town – Former title-winning captain Juan de Jongh will start at centre as Western Province will field a mix of youth and experience in their Currie Cup opener against the Lions at Ellis Park on Saturday (3.30pm kickoff).
De Jongh has had little opportunity in the Stormers squad in the United Rugby Championship over the last few seasons due to injury and the form of Ruhan Nel, Dan du Plessis and Suleiman Hartzenberg in midfield.
But now the former Springbok, who led WP to the title in 2014, will provide solid experience for the trip to Johannesburg against a powerful Lions side.
WP coach John Dobson picked Jean-Luc du Plessis, who is normally a flyhalf, in the No 12 jersey on Friday to use his vast skill-set to create space for the rest of the backs.
Former Maties Varsity Cup star Duncan Saal, who has been part of the Cheetahs set-up in recent years, has returned to the Cape and will operate at left wing, with Stormers regulars Clayton Blommetjies and Angelo Davids completing the back-three.
As expected, Kade Wolhuter will call the shots at flyhalf, with Godlen Masimla his halfback partner.
Lock Ernst van Rhyn will captain Province at No 4, and he will be surrounded by several other Stormers squad members such as flanks Marcel Theunissen and Ben-Jason Dixon and hooker Scarra Ntubeni.
There are a few new faces on the bench, including lock Dylan de Leeuw, loose forward Louwan Horn and centre Bruce Sherwood.
“It has been a good training week, with great energy for the start of the Currie Cup,” P coach John Dobson said on Friday.
“We have some incredibly talented players going up to Joburg, so the challenge for us will be to ensure that we make the most of that and get the competition off to a positive start.”
Western Province team: 15 Clayton Blommetjies 14 Angelo Davids 13 Juan de Jongh 12 Jean-Luc du Plessis 11 Duncan Saal 10 Kade Wolhuter 9 Godlen Masimla 8 Keke Morabe 7 Ben-Jason Dixon 6 Marcel Theunissen 5 Connor Evans 4 Ernst van Rhyn (captain) 3 Lee-Marvin Mazibuko 2 Scarra Ntubeni 1 Kwenzo Blose.
Replacements: 16 Andre-Hugo Venter 17 Leon Lyons 18 Sazi Sandi 19 Dylan de Leeuw 20 Louwan Horn 21 Paul de Wet 22 Bruce Sherwood 23 Suleiman Hartzenberg.