WP change seven for the Bulls
Springbok call-ups to Duane Vermeulen and Juan de Jongh have added to the Western Province disruption in the build-up to Saturday’s crucial Absa Currie Cup clash with the Blue Bulls at Newlands.
Vermeulen and De Jongh were called up by national coach Heyneke Meyer to the squad that will travel on the Australasian leg of The Castle Rugby Championship, and their withdrawals from the team to play the Bulls are among the seven changes, including one positional switch, from the side that lost to the Lions last time out.
De Jongh is replaced by JP du Plessis at outside centre, while Jebb Sinclair returns at No 8 for Vermeulen after playing off the bench last week. The one positive change to the loose trio is the return of the injured Rynhardt Elstadt at blindside flank, but the loss for the rest of the season with a finger injury of Siya Kolisi counter-balances that.
The positional switch sees captain Deon Fourie move to openside flank after leading the team from hooker last week. This gives Scarra Ntubeni an opportunity to make his first start for WP at this level. He has played often as a replacement.
In further changes Deon Carstens, now over his broken nose, comes back at loosehead prop to enable Steven Kitshoff to take a week’s rest, and Dewaldt Duvenage is back at scrumhalf after a fortnight off due to a rotational policy WP coach Allister Coetzee is applying in his position.
Louis Schreuder, who was good last week, takes the weekend off to enable Nic Groom to play off the bench.
Coetzee resisted the temptation to change flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis even though the former UCT star is heading to the Kings next season. The coach obviously decided that Gary van Aswegen’s stint at club level hasn’t quite brought him up to the required level of sharpness after his long layoff as he doesn’t even find a place on the bench.
Western Province: Gio Aplon, Gerhard van den Heever, JP du Plessis, Marcel Brache, Ederies Arendse, Demetri Catrakilis, Dewaldt Duvenage, Jebb Sinclair, Rynhardt Elstadt, Deon Fourie (capt), De Kock Steenkamp, Don Armand, Frans Malherbe, Siyabonga Ntubeni, Deon Carstens.
Replacements: Stephen Kitshoff, Brok Harris, Wilhelm van Sluys, Helmut Lehmann, Nic Groom, Damian de Allende, Kurt Coleman.