John Goliath

HIS pink boots might be frowned upon by some of the more conservative faithful in the stands at the GWK Park in Kimberley, but Willie le Roux is just as flashy as his footwear.

The Griquas fullback is going to be a big threat when the Northern Cape outfit roll into the Mother City tomorrow afternoon for their crucial Currie Cup encounter against Western Province at Newlands.

Le Roux has had a fantastic breakthrough season since joining the Cheetahs from Boland at the start of the season for their Super Rugby campaign.

He has continued in the same vein in the No15 jersey for Griquas this season, slicing opposing defences with his deceptive running, while also setting up wingers such as Rocco Jansen to dot down behind the tryline.

WP backline coach Robbie Fleck admitted yesterday that Le Roux has been the topic of many a team meeting this week, especially as he played a big role in Griquas’ successive victories over the Sharks and the Bulls over the last fortnight.

“Willie brings that X-factor that I’m talking about. He is able to break a game apart with his attacking game, and you know he has got some exceptional pace,” Fleck said. “He also has a great pass, and one thing he brings to the Griquas attacking game is width. He slots in at second or third receiver and provides some serious space, and he is able to cut the line whether he is counter-attacking or joining the line.”

But Le Roux has also got an educated left foot, and he uses it to great effect to exploit the space behind the opposition backline if the defences are flat.

Recovering those kicks is something that WP struggled with last Saturday in their defeat against the Sharks in Durban. Admittedly, the conditions were more suited to water polo than rugby, but Sharks flyhalf Riaan Viljoen exploited this with pinpoint kicking and put Province under pressure.

There is some rain around the Cape this weekend, and that’s probably why coach Allister Coetzee has decided to bring back Super Rugby fullback Joe Pietersen, and move Gio Aplon to the wing.

Damian de Allende, who drops to the bench from the left wing, looked good with ball in hand, but he was a bit slow in turning around to field those kicks. Province can’t afford to slip up tomorrow following their loss to the Sharks in Durban.

WP: 15 Joe Pietersen, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 JP du Plessis, 12 Marcel Brache, 11 Gio Aplon, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Jebb Sinclair, 7 Don Armand, 6 Deon Fourie (capt), 5 De Kock Steenkamp, 4 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff. Replacements: 16 Deon Carstens, 17 Brok Harris, 18 Helmut Lehmann, 19 JJ Gagiano, 20 Nic Groom, 21 Gary van Aswegen, 22 Damian de Allende

Griquas: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Richard Lawson, 13 Jean Stemmet, 12 Walter Venter, 11 Rocco Jansen, 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Marnus Hugo, 8 Leon Karemaker, 7 Wesley Wilkins, 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Martin Muller, 4 Ligtoring Landman, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Ryno Barnes (capt), 1 Steph Roberts. Replacements: 16 Matt Dobson, 17 Ivann Espag, 18 Edwin Hewitt, 19 Justin Downey, 20 Jacques Coetzee, 21 Marnitz Boshoff, 22 Luzuko Vulindlu