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Rugby | Absa Currie Cup

WP skipper doubtful for Loftus



A rib injury may prevent DHL Western Province skipper Deon Fourie from leading his team against the Vodacom Blue Bulls in Saturday’s big Absa Currie Cup clash at Loftus.

Fourie did not train on Monday and coach Allister Coetzee confirmed after the session at the High Performance Centre in Bellville that the flanker is carrying a Pentecostal muscle injury and is in some pain. Fourie, as the main designated ball scavenger, is an important player in the Province system, so Coetzee will give him as long as possible to prove his fitness, but in the meantime he is considering his options.

“We could go with Rohan Kitshoff as he is in the same mould as Deon, but then we might go for another option depending on the Bulls’ selection,” said Coetzee.

The Bulls have mostly upright ball carriers in their mix, and that might be what Coetzee is thinking. By moving Michael Rhodes from lock to blindside flank and shifting Rynhardt Elstadt to No 6 flank the Cape side could certainly add to the bulk and their ball carrying options in the second row.

“Rynhardt has played there before at Super Rugby level (against the Hurricanes in Palmerston North) so is no stranger to that position. We are also considering a five/two split between forwards and backs on the bench as a means to combat the Bulls’ forward strength,” said the coach.

Should Fourie be forced to cry off, lock De Kock Steenkamp will be the man to take on the captaincy role.

“Although Louis Schreuder is the official vice-captain we will keep him as the vice-captain. De Kock took over when Deon left the field in the second half against the Sharks and we were happy with the way he led the side. I will give Deon until the captain’s practice on Friday before ruling him out. He’s an important player. But those are the options we have.

“If Michael Rhodes shifts to flank, we can include Gerbrand Grobler at lock. And if we have Kitshoff on the bench, we still have the option of that sort of player should it be necessary, with Michael able to shift back to the second row.”

Coetzee said there were no other injury concerns, although Tiaan Liebenberg, who had to pull out of the team late in the week before the Sharks game, looks like he may be out for a while. According to Coetzee, the hooker will see a specialist on Tuesday amidst concerns that the back spasms that have bothered him recently may be more serious than that and could be disc related.

“We will know for sure only once Tiaan has seen the specialist. The news on Frans Malherbe is that he should be back in about three weeks. Schalk Burger, now that he has undergone a minor procedure on his leg, is hopeful and I am confident we could have him back in action before the end of the Currie Cup season. I don’t want to put a time frame on it, but I am confident.”

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