Injury blow for WP
Western Province were rocked by another injury blow on the day of the team announcement for Friday night’s crucial Absa Currie Cup clash with the Blue Bulls at Loftus as Rynhardt Elstadt was forced to withdraw from consideration for selection.
According to coach Allister Coetzee, the bulky blindside flanker woke up on Tuesday feeling the effects of Monday afternoon’s training session, which had been his first in three weeks.
Elstadt was sent for a scan on the rib injury that had kept him out and the decision was taken to withdraw him from the team. It had been expected that he would start against the Bulls.
The absence of Elstadt from the selection mix left WP with just one change to the side that was so disappointing in losing to the Lions in Cape Town last weekend.
That change comes at scrumhalf, with Coetzee continuing with his rotation policy, Nic Groom returning to the No 9 jersey to enable Louis Schreuder to take a break.
Groom excelled in the first-round game against the Bulls at Newlands and perhaps that played a role in the selection.
Groom certainly kept the Bulls busy around the fringes in that game, where he came on for Dewaldt Duvenage when he was injured and subsequently ruled out for the rest of the season.
WP beat the Bulls 42-6 in that match in what was undeniably their best performance of the Currie Cup to date, but Coetzee has warned against expecting something similar at Loftus.
“We know how desperate the Bulls are and that is going to make them extremely dangerous. We are expecting nothing less than them approaching this game as if it is their most important match of the season.
"The situation they are in (fighting to stave off relegation) is not one they are used to and they are an extremely proud union,” said Coetzee.
As always WP are expecting the main thrust of the Bulls’ challenge to come from their forward pack, and that explains why he has changed the bench so that it now reflects a five/two split between forwards and backs. That means JJ Gagiano replaces Berton Klaassen in the match-day 22.
DHL WESTERN PROVINCE: Joe Pietersen, Gerhard van den Heever, JP du Plessis, Marcel Brache, Damian de Allende, Demetri Catrakilis, Nic Groom, Jebb Sinclair, Tyrone Holmes, Deon Fourie (capt), De Kock Steenkamp, Don Armand, Frans Malherbe, Scarra Ntubeni, Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: Deon Carstens, Brok Harris, Wilhelm van der Sluys, Helmutt Lehmann, JJ Gagiano, Louis Schreuder, Pat Howard.