Elstadt may face the Lions
The DHL Western Province players enjoyed their Heritage Day at home on Monday, but coach Allister Coetzee is expecting to be in what for him has become an unfamiliar position when the squad gathers on Tuesday to begin preparations for Saturday’s Absa Currie Cup clash with the MTN Golden Lions.
The trend this year has been for the start of the week to be when a list of injured players and other subtractions, such as suspensions, from the squad are read out to the media. Most weeks there have been injuries, but last week in addition to the season ending jaw injury to Kurt Coleman, there was also the uncertainty over the two players who had been red-carded against the Sharks, Jebb Sinclair and Tyrone Holmes.
Sinclair ended up escaping further sanction, but Holmes was suspended for one match. Holmes’s suspension is over now so he comes back into the mix this week, as does Nick Koster, the No 8 who has been out for most of the year with a knee injury that has proved hard to get rid of. Koster has been back at the High Performance Centre in recent weeks, but it will be Tuesday that he resumes full training with his teammates.
Further good news for Province fans is that blindside flanker Rynhardt Elstadt could well be available this week. The big No 7 has been out for a couple of weeks with an injured rib, and initially the prognosis was that he would only be back in the week of the Bulls match -- meaning after Saturday’s game against the champions.
However Coetzee has confirmed that Elstadt has made a quicker recovery than was anticipated and he could well be considered for the Lions game, pending an assessment that will be conducted on Tuesday.
The sudden return of loose-forwards to the selection mix comes at a good time for WP, one of three teams vying for top spot on the final Currie Cup league standings with three games to go. The remaining three games aren’t easy ones -- Lions at home, Bulls away and Cheetahs at home -- so Coetzee knows he will require depth. The back row has been the area most impacted by injuries this year.
Meanwhile Coetzee has told the Cape media that the absence of Elton Jantjies, Jaco Taute and CJ van der Linde from the Lions team will not make a difference to the inform log-leaders when they come to Cape Town.
“I just want to warn everyone that Butch James is in that team, and they have played without guys like Jaco Taute and CJ van der Linde for most of the competition,” he said.
Indeed, Coetzee is right to warn of James’s effectiveness. When he came on late in the game against the Sharks this past weekend the veteran showed a lot of commitment and energy and was responsible for a crucial tackle that led to a turn-over ball that clinched his team the game in the desperate final minutes.