Three Province players who will be key in Cheetahs attack
CAPE TOWN – “This could be our last game, like it or not.”
When Western Province coach John Dobson said those words, he was giving insight into why he named youngster Rikus Pretorius at inside centre for tomorrow’s crunch match against the Free State Cheetahs.
But that sentence wasn’t just a string of words explaining why Pretorius needs to be developed ahead of next year’s Super Rugby season, it also captured just how important a win is for Province in their last Currie Cup league game of the season.
Technically, WP can still qualify for the semi-finals even if they lose, provided that they get a bonus point and the Sharks lose, while they can also move higher than fourth place if they get a win and other results go their way. But they certainly wouldn’t want to have to hope for good news, and Dobson also said he wants the team to attack more in Bloemfontein.
So, here are three players who will be key in that regard for WP.
How Leyds hasn’t been given more chances with the Springboks is puzzling. Would he perhaps have been looked at more in recent years had the Stormers enjoyed better seasons? I don’t know.
What we do know is that Leyds - an attacking catalyst as fine as they come - can spark moments like few other South African players can, especially when he finds himself in the No 15 jersey. Add a loose ball in there or just grant him the Gilbert at the back and he can make any team regret that clumsy moment that allowed the ball to go loose or kicking possession away. WP, though, will be hoping the Cheetahs find that out for themselves.
During the team announcement press conference on Wednesday, Dobson said that Willemse is still hoping to play himself into the World Cup squad, although it’s unlikely as Bok coach Rassie Erasmus last week hinted that his, Aphiwe Dyantyi and Warren Whiteley’s lack of Test rugby due to injury this year would make it extremely tough for them to hop onto the flight to Japan.
But Willemse still has his hopes, and after his superb contribution off the bench against Griquas last week, it will be exciting to see what he does in a starting role in such a high-stakes match. No person who has watched Stormers and WP rugby over the last two years would need to be briefed on what Willemse can do, how devastating he can be in tight situations. But providing a reminder against the Cheetahs would sure help WP’s chances.
He is wise when it comes to stopping the opposition from doing the most with it. Nel has produced some big defensive displays with the Stormers and WP, and while a ball-dislodging tackle or two will always help, especially with the kind of outside backs he will have around him tomorrow, what he does with ball in hand will be just as crucial.
He has an eye for space, a wicked pass and he knows how to work his men into space.
15 Dillyn Leyds, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Ruhan Nel, 12 Rikus Pretorius, 11 SP Marais, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Justin Phillips, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 JD Schickerling, 6 Ernst van Rhyn, 5 Chris van Zyl, 4 Salmaan Moerat, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Corne Fourie
Replacements: 16 Chad Solomon, 17 Kwenzo Blose, 18 Neethling Fouche, 19 Nama Xaba, 20 Juarno Augustus, 21 Paul de Wet, 22 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 23 Seabelo Senatla.@WynonaLouw