CAPE TOWN – Western Province coach John Dobson says their Currie Cup semi-final against the Blue Bulls on Saturday is tailor-made for No 8 Juarno Augustus.
The 2017 World Rugby Under-20 Player of the Year – who has spent a significant amount of time on the sidelines due to injury at different stages of his young career – will start at the back of the scrum at 5pm on Saturday in his first semi-final at senior level.
Augustus has recovered from his latest injury (calf strain) which kept him out for two weeks, and with Springbok Sikhumbuzo Notshe nursing a knee injury, including Augustus in the run-on side couldn’t have been too tough a decision to make for Dobson.
“Notshe could have been forced and injected and asked to play, but we thought it better to leave him out and have him back for the final... if there is one,” Dobson quipped.
“Trokkie (Augustus) has been good, and I’m very excited about what he can bring. This game at Newlands is tailor-made for him and his style of play.”
In the backline, Province have also welcomed back Dillyn Leyds – who will start at fullback after being a late withdrawal last week – while Damian Willemse will have a chance to create something “devastating” at flyhalf.
Dobson explained that the decision to leave Josh Stander out of the run-on side was a “horrible” one, given how superb he was tactically against the Bulls in the wet last week and how solid he’s been at No 10 this whole season.
“It wasn’t a hard decision leaving Josh out, it was just horrible, because I feel bad for him,” he said.
“We took a decision to respect the returning Springboks and select them.
“If you start deciding that your Springboks aren’t good enough for your team, you get into a tricky area in terms of player motivation and consistency and understanding the picture.
“We couldn’t leave Dillyn out after he was passed fit, which put players such as JJ Engelbrecht on the bench, and even Dan du Plessis had to miss out.”
Dobson also emphasised the role Willemse will play in the semi, and how pleased he is with how scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies has performed.
“Both (Bulls flyhalf) Manie (Libbok) and Damian have got X-factor... obviously Damian may be on another level. That’s why I’m very pleased with Herschel, because he’s like for like with Jano (Vermaak),” Dobson said.
“He (Jantjies) is a good clearer and a good passer, he’s not one of those nines who picks the ball up and has a look and then he passes, his job is to get the ball to Damian.
“One thing this team isn’t short of is X-factor, so it’s a classic old scrumhalf game; supporting lines and clearing very fast.
“Our challenge is to get the ball to Damian and to get him right on to the ball and get some good go-forward ball.
“With those feet and his decision-making and his pass, it’s devastating.”
Teams For Newlands
Western Province: 15 Dillyn Leyds 14 Sergeal Petersen 13 Ruhan Nel 12 Dan Kriel 11 SP Marais 10 Damian Willemse 9 Herschel Jantjies 8 Juarno Augustus 7 Ernst van Rhyn 6 Kobus van Dyk 5 JD Schickerling 4 Chris van Zyl (captain) 3 Wilco Louw 2 Bongi Mbonambi 1 Ali Vermaak
Bench: 16 Scarra Ntubeni 17 Caylib Oosthuizen 18 Michael Kumbirai 19 Salmaan Moerat 20 Jaco Coetzee 21 Paul de Wet 22 Josh Stander 23 JJ Engelbrecht.
Blue Bulls: 15 Divan Rossouw, 14 Duncan Matthews, 13 Dylan Sage, 12 Johnny Kotze, 11 Jade Stighling, 10 Manie Libbok, 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Hanro Liebenberg (captain), 7 Marco van Staden, 6 Ruan Steenkamp, 5 Eli Snyman, 4 Hendré Stassen, 3 Dayan van der Westhuizen, 2 Jaco Visagie, Trevor Nyakane.
Bench: 16 Edgar Marutlulle, 17 Frans van Wyk, 18 Conraad van Vuuren, 19 Ruan Nortjé, 20 Nic de Jager, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Tinus de Beer, 23 Franco Naudé.