Sharks have our number - Coetzee
Western Province have made just one change to their team for Saturday’s crucial Currie Cup clash with coastal rivals and fellow log-leaders, the Sharks, in Durban.
The injured Rynhardt Elstadt is replaced by Tyrone Holmes -- otherwise the team to take the field at Mr Price Kings Park is a vote by coach Allister Coetzee for continuity as WP look to retain the momentum they have picked up over the past fortnight. While Elstadt’s physicality will be missed, and he has made a massive contribution since returning from an earlier injury, Coetzee is happy with having Holmes at No 7.
“Tyrone has played there before and he has done well for us since brought into the mix so I don’t think we are going to lose too much,” said Coetzee.
“This is a great opportunity for Tyrone. He will be playing against a Sharks back row that includes two Springboks in Keegan Daniel and Jean Deysel and I can’t think of a better chance for a player to show what he is capable of. If Tyrone repeats his previous performances for us we will be okay.”
But Coetzee is under no illusions about the task his team faces against a Sharks side that will be smarting after the loss to Griquas last week. And he does not deny that the recent run of losses against the Sharks has become a concern and has upped the ante for his men in Durban.
“We have no doubt that this is going to be a really tough game. We are playing against a side that sort of has our number. We lost the second round Super Rugby game against them, and then the semifinal, which was heartbreaking for us. We also lost the first round game against them, so it has been three in a row, and we need to change that.
“We did beat them the first game in Super Rugby this year, and we had the wood over them last year, when we won home and away in Super Rugby and also beat them in Durban in the Currie Cup. But they appear to enjoy playing against us, so we are going to have to go into the game with the right attitude.”
Coetzee said that he had been tempted to bring Joe Pietersen back at fullback now that he is fit again, but that ultimately he had to weigh up the continuity aspect and the fact that his team has built up a rich vein of form recently.
“It’s all about timing. Like those trains in Europe that come in to the station and you have to get onto the train quickly or the door will close on you, you have to get your timing exactly right when you bring a player back after injury.”
Yet Gio Aplon, the man who will be wearing the No 15 jersey in Durban, wasn’t at training on Wednesday, and skipper Deon Fourie was also not participating.
“Gio has a personal issue that needs to be sorted out and Deon is being managed. He has played a lot of rugby lately in different positions and he received a bit of a blow to his arm in the last match. So we felt it wise to let him sit out training today,” said Coetzee.
The coach expressed confidence in young Tom Botha, who comes into the WP 22 on the bench as replacement for tighthead Frans Malherbe, who has been called up to the Springboks.
“Tom is a young player with a bright future and he played well for us against a Griquas pack that is now doing well in the Currie Cup in the recent Vodacom Cup final. Our reserves have made a great impact when coming on recently and Tom knows I will be expecting something similar from him.”
DHL Western Province team: Gio Aplon, Gerhard van den Heever, JP du Plessis, Marcel Brache, Damian Allende, Demetri Catrakilis, Nic Groom, Jebb Sinclair, Tyrone Holmes, Deon Fourie (captain), De Kock Steenkamp, Don Armand, Brok Harris, Scarra Ntubeni, Deon Carstens.
Replacements: Steven Kitshoff, Tom Botha, Wilhelm van Sluys, Helmut Lehmann, Louis Schreuder, Kurt Coleman, Joe Pietersen.