CAPE TOWN - Western Province coach John Dobson says the addition of some Springboks into the line-up for Saturday's home game against Griquas (kick-off 7.30 pm) isn't too disruptive.
It's not often that the injection of a few Springbok players into your matchday squad for Currie Cup duty can be seen as a disruption as opposed to a boost, but the momentum WP have built up, in addition to the pressure the shortened format brings, does influence the tipping scale a bit. WP have won all three of their Currie Cup matches of the 2018 season in stunning fashion, bagging maximum points in Cape Town, Nelspruit and Johannesburg.
But there are some changes to the team that have been on the rampage in the first half of the competition as Bongi Mbonambi, Wilco Louw, Sikhumbuzo Notshe and Damian Willemse have all been released from the Springbok squad and are joined in the starting line-up by a fit-again JJ Engelbrecht.
Mbonambi and Louw join Alistair Vermaak in the front row, with Caylib Oosthuizen, Scarra Ntubeni and Michael Kumbirai on the bench. Former SA Schools captain Salmaan Moerat partners captain Chris van Zyl in the second row, while Notshe links up with Kobus van Dyk and Juarno Augustus in the loose trio.
In the backline there are three changes to the team that thrashed the Golden Lions last week. Scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies will make his first start of the season, while Engelbrecht and Willemse come in on the left wing and fullback respectively. Justin Phillips, Dan du Plessis and Dillyn Leyds will provide backline cover on the bench.
"The only sort-of voluntary one (change) was JD Schickerling sitting out, but the rest – when you get four or five guys from the Springboks, we have to accommodate them," Dobson said. "There isn’t a decision to be made about that (including your Boks). And obviously it is a massive boost for our team. But Salmaan, Ernst and Chris all need rugby.
Here is your #DHLWP team that will be looking to make it four wins from four in the Currie Cup when they face Tafel Lager Griquas at #DHLNewlands on Saturday. Tickets available from @computicket. #wpjoulekkerding #WeStandTogether pic.twitter.com/BUqVhJ9AGf— WP RUGBY (@WP_RUGBY) September 20, 2018
"The problem with this competition is, it is such a short competition, there is no room for…it isn’t fair that we don’t give Herschel or Justin Phillips any game time so hopefully the injection of the Springboks may offset any loss of rhythm there. The only guy who hasn’t played for us – the only Springbok – is Damian Willemse. The rest have all been with us at some stage, so it isn’t too disruptive."
Willemse will start at fullback in the place of Leyds, and during the team announcement Dobson said that Willemse starting at 15 with Josh Stander at 10 could bring some excitement in front of their home crowd.
"It sounds like we are trying to claim credit which we are not, but last year we played him at fifteen and he was at fifteen in that final, and was very good," he said. The way tens and fifteens are playing now...if you watch Wasps, or in England, so often those fifteens are in the first receiver role in that second and third phase. That combination should be quite exciting."
"We need to build depth at 10, because at the moment Josh Stander is the only out-and-out 10 if Damian goes back to the Boks. We are looking at Dillyn coming on at 10. I’ve also got to take a view of an injury to this or that player that might scupper our campaign, because it is finished in four weeks' time."