CAPE TOWN - Tomorrow's Currie Cup meeting between the Blue Bulls and Western Province could provide Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus with another chance to assess Damian Willemse at fullback.
Although the former SA Schools flyhalf was named at flyhalf for the last Currie Cup match of the weekend, he just might make a late move to fullback, which would see Joshua Stander coming into the starting line-up at 10.
Dillyn Leyds - who John Dobson named at fullback - didn’t take part in Province’s training session ahead of the team announcement press conference yesterday due to a calf injury, so a start for him - although it says otherwise on the team sheet - is unlikely at this stage.
Erasmus has said that he wants to blood Willemse at fullback, and against the All Blacks at Loftus at the weekend, the 20-year-old came off the bench and replaced Willie le Roux. Stander has been WP’s starting flyhalf this Currie Cup season in the absence of Willemse and Jean-Luc du Plessis.
Du Plessis, despite having undergone surgery on his hip and looked well on his way to recovery (he played a handful of games following his op in the USA in December last year), has been struggling with a hip injury again, while Willemse has of course been with the Boks.
Willemse is one of three Boks who will join WP’s starting line-up following their 50-28 drubbing of the Sharks two weeks ago. Sikhumbuzo Notshe will start at No 8 in the place of Jaco Coetzee, while Wilco Louw - who is set to make his 50th appearance for Province against their old foes - takes over from Michael Kumbirai at tighthead prop.
Ruhan Nel, who was called up to the Boks set-up but didn’t play, will again start as outside centre. Dan du Plessis will make his first start of the season when he forms WP’s centre pairing with Nel, while scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies will get his second start of the season in the absence of the injured Jano Vermaak. The unbeaten WP have already secured a home semi-final with their last victory at Newlands, and need just one point to cement their place at the top of the standings.
Western Province team: 15 Dillyn Leyds, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Ruhan Nel, 12 Dan du Plessis, 11 SP Marais, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Ernst van Rhyn, 6 Kobus van Dyk, 5 JD Schickerling, 4 Chris van Zyl (captain), 3 Wilco Louw (50th DHL WP cap), 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Ali Vermaak. Reserves: 16 Chad Solomon, 17 Caylib Oosthuizen, 18 Neethling Fouche, 19 Salmaan Moerat, 20 Jaco Coetzee, 21 Paul de Wet, 22 Josh Stander.