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Rugby | Currie Cup

WP shake up backs for Durban

Dillyn Leyds is back on the wing as one of a couple of changes that Western Province coach John Dobson has made to his back division for Saturday’s crucial final Currie Cup league meeting with the Sharks in Durban.

Leyds will start in the wing position that he filled for the Boks against the All Blacks and the Wallabies the week before that, thus enabling Damian Willemse to continue at fullback. The interesting change though sees Bok Sevens star Ruhan Nel switch from the wing to inside centre for a match that WP have to win if they want to host a semifinal the following week.

Nel wearing the No 12 jersey means there is no place for EW Viljoen, who moves from the starting outside centre position to the bench so that Huw Jones can be accommodated at No 13. This selection doesn’t make much sense from a building for the future point of view – and that is what the Currie Cup should be about in the modern era – as Jones will be continuing his career in Scotland from the end of the month whereas Viljoen will be part of the Stormers challenge in the next Super Rugby season.

However, the Currie Cup as a building block for Super Rugby has been put on hold at several unions where the money that can be made from a home play-off game has been made the bottom line, and a Nel/Jones pairing in the midfield, with Viljoen there to come on as an impact sub later in the game, does hold interesting possibilities.

The back three as a whole will be under pressure to make better decisions when it comes to exiting from their own half. That's something that is more imperative against the Sharks than other teams because of their kicking game, more so than was the case when these teams met in a first round match in Cape Town.

Robert du Preez missed the clashes with the team coached by his father, and where he is probably destined to be playing next year, earlier in the season but is back as the starting flyhalf for the trip to KZN and that presents a couple of interesting questions. It must be difficult for a coach to coach a team to beat one featuring his son, something that Du Preez senior acknowledged earlier in the year. Robert Jr has tended to put one over his father when he has been in the starting line-up of an opposing team (it happened at Varsity Cup level too) and Du Preez Sr will know that.

The other changes to the WP side that started well and then faded against the Lions in Johannesburg come in the pack, with the anticipated return of Springbok Wilco Louw at tighthead being the headline change. It will be interesting to see how Louw’s scrum battle with Thomas du Toit, who was also part of the Bok camp in the build-up to the All Black game, unfolds.

In the second change to the pack, Jaco Coetzee returns on the openside flank for the trip to the city where he was schooled, with Kobus van Dyk dropping out.

Coach Dobson says his team know what has to be done this week after the reverse in Johannesburg that reduced their chances of booking a home semifinal.

“We know we need to raise our game as a team this weekend and go flat out for the result,” said Dobson.

In many ways this game sees a reversal in psyche to the one that was played towards the end of May in Super Rugby. Back then the Sharks were fighting for a place in the Super Rugby play-offs while the Stormers were already too far in front in their conference to be caught by the Bulls or Cheetahs and for them it was effectively a dead rubber game.

This time around it is the Sharks who really have nothing to play for from a log viewpoint as they already made sure of top position a couple of weeks ago. However the hosts have been incentivised by this being a tribute match for long-serving wing Odwa Ndungane, who will be playing his 249th game for the Sharks.

Western Province team: 15.Damian Willemse, 14.Seabelo Senatla, 13.Huw Jones, 12.Ruhan Nel, 11.Dillyn Leyds, 10.Robert du Preez, 9.Dewaldt Duvenage, 8.Nizaam Carr, 7.Cobus Wiese, 6.Jaco Coetzee, 5.JD Schickerling, 4.Chris van Zyl (captain), 3.Wilco Louw, 2.Bongi Mbonambi, 1.JC Janse van Rensburg.
Replacements: 16.Ramone Samuels, 17.Caylib Oosthuizen, 18.Jan de Klerk, 19.Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 20.Justin Phillips, 21.Werner Kok, 22.EW Viljoen.


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