CAPE TOWN - Western Province coach John Dobson says he’s excited to see how Sikhumbuzo Notshe goes against the Sharks in the Currie Cup final in Durban on Saturday (4pm kickoff, SS1).
Notshe was named at No 6 in the place of Jaco Coetzee - who sustained a concussion in Province's 19-5 semi-final win over the Golden Lions at Newlands last week. And although Dobson said that he kept Coetzee’s well-being in mind when he made the selection, he also said that Notshe’s outstanding contribution off the bench against the Lions was another big factor in giving him a start this weekend.
In that semi-final, Notshe played a key role in the Province forwards’ dominant display, and the WP coach added that with that performance, Notshe should have convinced the rugby public that he’s more than just a “flash player”.
“We could have forced Jaco Coetzee or waited longer for him, but I felt that Notshe was so good when he came on last week, he deserved the opportunity,” Dobson said.
“There’s this paradigm about Notshe sometimes that he’s a flash player, but he’s a very physical flank as well, as we saw last week. So I’m quite excited.”
Another change Dobson made up front was the inclusion of Cobus Wiese at No 7 in the place of Kobus van Dyk, who drops to the bench. Other than that, things remain the same in the pack.
One man who will be particularly important up front is tighthead prop Wilco Louw.
The new Springbok has impressed with his know-how when it comes to packing down for the showing contest, and when asked if he would try to squeeze all the minutes he can out of the 23-year-old against a strong set-piece team like the Sharks, Dobson said: “He’s a big diesel, I was very pleased with Frans van Wyk up at Loftus, but our plan is to play him (Wilco) deep.”
Ahead of their semi-final last week, Dobson emphasised the importance of impact off the bench. And although some of the players who were on the bench last week are now in the run-on side, the WP coach was still confident about the personnel he has among the replacements to provide that impact.
The Cape Town team has made a lot of progress in terms of their attacking approach this year, and it’s something that’s served them well. But Dobson acknowledged that they’ll have to adjust their game for the date with the Sharks.
“I’d love to be romantic, but territory is going to be important,” he said. “We’re also aware of the drop (kick) threat when the game becomes very tight, so we’ve got a couple of plans around that. But in the overall picture of the game, territory is important, unfortunately. We’ve got a plan around that, if he (Curwin Bosch) goes for a match-winning drop.”
Western Province team: 15 Damian Willemse, 14 Seabelo Senatla, 13 Ruhan Nel, 12 Huw Jones, 11 Dillyn Leyds, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Cobus Wiese, 6 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 5 JD Schickerling, 4 Chris van Zyl (captain), 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg. Bench: 16 Ramone Samuels, 17 Ali Vermaak, 18 Frans van Wyk, 19 Jan de Klerk, 20 Kobus van Dyk, 21 Jano Vermaak, 22 Werner Kok, 23 Dan Kriel.