Following Western Province’s 32-27 Currie Cup loss to the Sharks at Jonsson Kings Park last weekend, it was Herschel Jantjies’ spectacular Test debut that brought some joy to a “sulky” WP team.
During the team announcement press conference ahead of their home game against the Golden Lions today (5.15pm), WP captain Chris van Zyl spoke about how the WP and Stormers scrumhalf’s superb two-try debut against the Wallabies evoked reaction that showed just how much the WP players care for each other.
That team connection will be needed today, especially after John Dobson last week lamented how “flat” his side was in Durban.
The Province coach on Thursday explained that he doesn’t think the attitude showed by his players at the Shark Tank came from a bad place, but rather desperation.
Be that as it may, Province will want to rediscover that “joy” they experienced while watching Jantjies go against the Wallabies from their hotel after last week’s defeat.
“We got back from the hotel in a sulky mood but decided we were going to watch the game as a team,” Van Zyl said.
“Although we weren’t in our best mental space because of the poor performance, the joy in that room when he (Jantjies) was singing the anthem and then when he scored his first and second try was just phenomenal.
“The guys were going mental. It was flippin’ special, even under the circumstances, to see how much the guys care for each other and what it means to us. He is a great man.”
The return of Springbok Dillyn Leyds could play a big role in the team’s attitide, according to Dobson.
“He brings a lot to the team, on and off the field. Rassie (Erasmus) was teasing me earlier about me saying he’s our talisman in a way, but he is, he epitomises the way we want to play.”
Sergeal Petersen will also feature against the Lions, although his time on the field will be limited to 20 or 30 minutes as he’s being eased in after returning from a lengthy injury lay-off.
“With the return of Dillyn and Sergeal I think we’ll see a team with much more joy and lightness. I don’t think a Western Province team should force the Sharks to make 300-odd tackles and we only make 80 and we lose the game. If we were in our right state of joy or flow ... but we’ve addressed it.”
The Lions have also been boosted by the inclusion of thrill-a-minute loose forward Hacjivah Dayimani, who returns from the niggle that kept him out of the Lions’ one-point win over the Pumas.
The Lions have also welcomed back Bok lock Marvin Orie, who’ll add some experience to a rather young tight five.
The Lions have only played one game so far, while Province’s run include the loss to the Sharks and a comfortable 20-5 win over the Blue Bulls in Round One.
Given the Lions’ style of play and the challenges they can bring on attack - particularly with the likes of Tyrone Green, Wandisile Simelane, Madosh Tambwe and Dayimani in the mix - Province will want to not only deliver a tight defensive effort, but also make sure that they make full use of those players who bring “joy” and “lightness” to the squad.