Cape Town - Despite the Blue Bulls’ thrashing at the hands of the Pumas, Western Province coach John Dobson feels that there is still “a bit of a buzz” around Friday night’s Currie Cup north-south derby at Loftus Versfeld (7.05pm kickoff).
The 63-15 loss at the hands of the Currie Cup champions last Sunday was a bitter pill to swallow for Edgar Marutlulle in his first encounter as the Bulls head coach, and they will be determined to produce a performance worthy of the light-blue jersey against WP.
Dobson is adamant that there won’t be a repeat of the Pumas game tonight as the Pretoria side are “far too good” for that to happen.
But the WP boss selected a strong side on Thursday that included a number of URC figures such as Clayton Blommetjies and Ruhan Nel in the backline, while dynamic loose forward Hacjivah Dayimani makes his long-awaited return from a knee injury off the bench.
Province swept the Lions aside in a 44-28 victory at Ellis Park last week, and will be confident of knocking over the Bulls as well.
Some of the WP players will also hope to impress and earn a spot on the plane for the trip to Dublin to face Leinster next week.
“Great to have (Dayimani) back. It’s a week early, but it’s great because the next two against Leinster and Harlequins (in the Champions Cup) won’t go down as easy games. It’s great to get him back a week early so that we can get his body used to it again,” Dobson said.
“Some of those guys will definitely be in the frame (against Leinster). We can’t really choose that team before we see how tomorrow night goes, and we are thin in the backs (following injuries to Angelo Davids, Duncan Saal, Tristan Leyds and Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu)…
“All of them, Paul (de Wet), Godlen (Masimla), Kade (Wolhuter), Jouba (Juan de Jongh), JL (du Plessis), Suleiman (Hartzenberg) – Blomme is probably one guy who is definitely going to come (to Ireland), but for the rest, it is a good opportunity for them.
“We had a week a while ago where we talked a little bit about complacency, and we are very far from that. I dream and fear about weekends like that, where everything goes right for one team. As well as the Pumas played (against the Bulls), it was extraordinary. Everything stuck.”
WP have again chosen six forwards on the bench, which Dobson pointed out is their usual strategy.
But the Bulls are hurting, and will hope to climb in physically to win enough possession for their backs to strike on attack.
“We have to make sure we pitch up physically – it might be a physically more experienced Bulls pack, but I think we know what we’ve got in each other… the way we work for each other as a pack,” Province captain Ernst van Rhyn said.
“We will focus on that and take some confidence out of last week, but it will be a completely different challenge. The Bulls are a very set-piece-based team: they do lean a lot on their set-piece, especially off lineouts, so we need to make sure we stop them there.”
Blue Bulls: 15 David Kriel 14 Quewin Nortjé 13 Cornal Hendricks 12 Harold Vorster 11 Sbu Nkosi 10 Chris Smith 9 Zak Burger 8 Elrigh Louw 7 Cyle Brink 6 Marco van Staden 5 Ruan Nortjé (captain) 4 Ruan Vermaak 3 Mornay Smith 2 Johan Grobbelaar 1 Gerhard Steenekamp.
Bench: 16 Bismarck du Plessis 17 Simphiwe Matanzima 18 Francois Klopper 19 Janko Swanepoel 20 WJ Steenkamp 21 Embrose Papier 22 Morné Steyn 23 Stedman Gans.
Western Province: 15 Clayton Blommetjies 14 Suleiman Hartzenberg 13 Juan de Jongh 12 Jean-Luc du Plessis 11 Ruhan Nel 10 Kade Wolhuter 9 Paul de Wet 8 Keke Morabe 7 Willie Engelbrecht 6 Marcel Theunissen 5 Connor Evans 4 Ernst van Rhyn (captain) 3 Sazi Sandi 2 Andre-Hugo Venter 1 Kwenzo Blose.
Bench: 16 Scarra Ntubeni 17 Leon Lyons 18 Lee-Marvin Mazibuko 19 Dylan de Leeuw 20 Ben-Jason Dixon 21 Hacjivah Dayimani 22 Godlen Masimla 23 Bruce Sherwood.