CAPE TOWN – Western Province coach John Dobson is banking on his big pack to deny the Golden Lions’ all-round steppers possession and space as they gear up for their Currie Cup showdown at Ellis Park tomorrow (3pm kickoff).
With the silky feet of Sikhumbuzo Notshe having returned to the Springbok camp, Province will have a different, big-carrying dynamic in their loose trio.
Juarno Augustus, lock Ernst van Rhyn and Kobus van Dyk - who moves from blindside to openside - will try and keep the Lions in check in the close quarters.
Chris van Zyl returns to take up his spot in the second row as well as resume his captaincy role, while junior star Salmaan Moerat will add back-up on the bench.
WP will also be without tighthead prop Wilco Louw and inside centre Damian de Allende, two losses that open up spots for Michael Kumbirai and Dan Kriel respectively.
After two big wins against the Free State Cheetahs and Pumas, Dobson has gone for a five-two split on the bench, and explained that holding onto the ball will be crucial against the log-leading Lions, who are also unbeaten after their three fixtures.
“There is no doubt that to play against this team we need to carry the ball at them,” Dobson said.
“We feel that the way we have to go at them is with a direct game. We have looked at it and seen that they have enjoyed 59% possession in the last few games, and the pack that we have selected should counteract that.
“We are not going out there to kick the ball and give them possession. Like us, they are very good on the counter-attack. They are also a team filled with steppers across the board. If you look at their back three, they are all steppers, the rest of their backs are steppers, and of course they also have good steppers in (Hacjivah) Dayimani and (James) Venter.
We want to limit their attacking opportunities. Ernst has been one of the finds of the seasons. Kobus (van Dyk) has played for the Stormers as a No 6.”
The Western Province team is:
15 Dillyn Leyds 14 Sergeal Petersen 13 Ruhan Nel 12 Dan Kriel 11 SP Marais 10 Josh Stander 9 Jano Vermaak 8 Juarno Augustus 7 Ernst van Rhyn 6 Kobus van Dyk 5 JD Schickerling 4 Chris van Zyl (captain) 3 Michael Kumbirai 2 Scarra Ntubeni 1 Ali Vermaak.
Reserves: 16 Chad Solomon 17 Caylib Oosthuizen 18 Carlu Sadie 19 Salmaan Moerat 20 Chris Massyn 21 Paul de Wet 22 Dan du Plessis.