Western Province are set to pay the price for Bok coach Peter de Villiers’ “All-WP” selection policy. The pain will start in Durban at 19h10 on Friday night.
de Villiers has called up the core of the Stormers team that battled so bravely in the Super 14. Among the forwards, key men Brian Mujati, Schalk Brits, Andries Bekker and Schalk Burger are with the Boks. In the backline, the situation is even worse with every eligible member of the Stormers backline called up for Springbok duty. Only Sireli Naqelevuki is not there; hardly surprising, since he’s Fijian. Even the reserve scrumhalf, Bolla Conradie is with the Boks.
This leaves new WP coach Alistair Coetzee with a number of selection headaches. The Stormers tight five lacked credible depth in the Super 14. The WP tight five in the opening rounds of the Currie Cup will hardly be worthy of the term, with Brok Harris likely to be at tighthead and Schalk Ferreira on the other side of the scrum. Rookie hooker Deon Fourie will probably start, given the insane decision to release Tiaan Liebenberg (he’s heading to Toulon – anyone heard of them?) Adriaan Fondse will partner Ross Skeate at lock, hardly a combination to strike fear into the hearts of opposing packs.
AJ Venter will probably play at number 8 and add some much needed experience to an otherwise green back-row. Francois Louw should be at blindside and he did some good work in the Super 14. Rookie Pieter Myburgh will probably wear the number 6 jersey.
It is much the same in the backs. New recruit Willem de Waal will join Wylie Human as the only player in the backline with reasonable experience. Allister Siegelaar will be at scrumhalf and expect Dylan des Fountain to be one of the centres. The rest of the backline will contain lightweights like Morgan Newman, Luke Titus, Joe Pietersen, Terry Jacobs, Gio Aplon and Zhahier Ryland. All very exciting players, but mostly inexperienced and none of them much bigger than your average hobbit.
The Sharks, in comparison, are actually looking pretty good. Craig Burden will be the inexperienced man in a tight five comprising Deon Carstens, Jannie du Plessis, Johann Muller and either Steven Sykes or Albert van den Berg. Burden himself has completed a Super 14 campaign and will have experienced backup in the form of Skipper Badenhorst, never out of his depth at this level. Pat Cilliers will be on the bench, giving the Sharks the clear ascendancy in the tight five.
The potential loss of Jean Deysel is a blow, but the Sharks have Super 14 stalwarts Jacques Botes and Keegan Daniel available in the loose trio, as well as a host of promising youngsters including Blignaut, Rhodes, Downy and Potgieter.
In the backs, Rory Kockott and Brad Barritt will dictate matters from halfback, while Andries Strauss will come into midfield to partner Springbok Waylon Murray. JP Pietersen and Henno Mentz will be the wingers, with Stefan Terblanche in the last line of defence.
Province will start to come back into the competition once their youngsters pick up some experience and will, of course, become a lot stronger when their Boks return in September. Friday night in Durban, though, is going to be a long one for the,.Tweet