CAPE TOWN – Following their Currie Cup drubbing of the Golden Lions at Ellis Park at the weekend, Western Province coach John Dobson said that the single-round competition format makes it tough to experiment in terms of team selections.
And as the unbeaten Province are gearing up for their home game against Griquas - who have won only one of their four matches during the Currie Cup - Dobson will face a bit of a selection poser as four Springboks will be available for the Newlands fixture.
Bok coach Rassie Erasmus yesterday released 10 players from his Rugby Championship squad for Currie Cup duty this weekend.
For WP, that means that flyhalf Damian Willemse, loose forward Sikhumbuzo Notshe, tighthead prop Wilco Louw and hooker Bongi Mbonambi will be available to run out against Peter Engeldow’s team.
With a few Boks added to the mix, it will be interesting to see who Dobson goes with for their fourth encounter of the season.
Flyhalf Josh Stander has been racking up valuable game time in Willemse’s absence, and with Jean-Luc du Plessis on the injury list again, it would be safe to assume that both Dobson and Stormers coach Robbie Fleck would want to continue adding to Stander’s experience - whether that’s with next year’s Super Rugby season in mind or the remaining Currie Cup matches.
But Willemse of course also needs to remain match-fit, and while Erasmus’ plans for him seem to be at fullback, a start at No 15 for Willemse could see Dillyn Leyds - who has been superb from the back - make a positional shift.
A player like hooker Scarra Ntubeni has also been able to get back into the swing of things properly after struggling with injury, while the promising Michael Kumbirai - who dovetailed Louw in their trophy-winning campaign last year - has been able to add a few more starts to his name.
It’s also worth noting that Kumbirai will have to return to WP’s starting line-up next week should Louw get the nod against Griquas, and for a young tighthead who has a date with the Sharks’ pack looming, every bit of game time in the shortened competition counts.
So, does Dobson give his Boks - who he could have back for the last Currie Cup game - a go, or does he stick to the guns that should be high on momentum and confidence after grabbing maximum points in all three of their matches so far?