CAPE TOWN – Western Province flyhalf Jean-Luc du Plessis and wing Edwill van der Merwe will both play their first Currie Cup game in the North-South derby against the Blue Bulls at Newlands on Saturday.
The backline duo have both represented Western Province in the SuperSport Rugby Challenge, but will get their first taste of Currie Cup action in the big season-opener, which kicks off at 17h15 on Saturday.
Du Plessis will form a halfback partnership with Justin Phillips, with Dan Kriel and Ruhan Nel in midfield alongside him.
Van der Merwe is on the right wing and will be joined in the back three by Seabelo Senatla and fullback SP Marais.
Loosehead prop Corne Fourie will make his DHL Western Province debut in an experienced front row which also features hooker Scarra Ntubeni and tighthead Wilco Louw, with Chad Solomon, Kwenzo Blose and Carlu Sadie among the replacements.
Captain Chris van Zyl is joined in the second row by Salmaan Moerat, with JD Schickerling set to make his return from injury from the replacements bench.
No.8 Juarno Augustus is also back from injury and is joined in the loose trio by flanks Jaco Coetzee and Ernst van Rhyn.
Western Province coach John Dobson said that given the single-round format of the Currie Cup, it is vital that his team make a strong start this weekend.
“We start the Currie Cup with a North-South derby at DHL Newlands, so it is obviously something that everyone is looking forward to.
“We have had a good pre-season and the focus is on making sure we can deliver from the word go this season,” he said.
Western Province team: 15 SP Marais, 14 Edwill van der Merwe, 13 Ruhan Nel, 12 Dan Kriel, 11 Seabelo Senatla, 10 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 9 Justin Phillips, 8 Juarno Augustus, 7 Ernst van Rhyn, 6 Jaco Coetzee, 5 Chris van Zyl (captain), 4 Salmaan Moerat, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Corne Fourie.
Replacements: 16 Chad Solomon, 17 Kwenzo Blose, 18 Carlu Sadie, 19 JD Schickerling, 20 Chris Massyn, 21 Godlen Masimla, 22 Josh Stander, 23 Craig Barry.
African News Agency (ANA)