Western Province are not promising to compensate the Newlands faithful for last week’s dour Test fare when they host the Blue Bulls there in a Currie Cup match on Saturday.
The performances of the Springboks and Italy left a bitter taste in the mouths of some 36 000 fans after the teams settled for conservative playing patterns in inclement weather, according to news24.com.
On Saturday, fans can expect more of the same but this time the two fairly evenly teams, in the best traditions of traditional North v South rivalry, will show far more passion.
“We cannot say we are going to play running rugby,” said Allister Coetzee, at Wednesday’s WP team announcement. “If we think that’s what we are going to do, then we’re living in a fool’s paradise.
“One just have to look at what the Bulls are renowned for. They’ve got a helluva good side, and it does not matter how many players they have out through injury.”
Coetzee was referring to the injury-stricken Bulls captain Wikus van Heerden who will be out of action for the next few weeks. However, his loss will effectively be offset by Danie Rossouw, who has been overlooked for Tri-Nations duty by the Springbok selectors.
Last week, Coetzee tried to counter the threat posed by the massive Sharks pack by loading the bench with five forwards. This time Coetzee has reverted to usual 4-3 (four forwards, three backs) split, but he pointed out that he did not mean he had less regard for the Bulls pack.
“We’ll have to front up physically to the Bulls. That’s a huge challenge, and we know what Rossouw brings to their pack. I am not underestimating the Bulls’ forwards in any way,” said Coetzee, a former Springbok assistant coach who has worked with Rossouw for three seasons.
“Last week I had a gut feel to go with five forwards on the bench because we were scrummaging against a Springbok tight five.
“The team needs the forwards to provide quick, quality ball for the backs.
The backs need the platform to strike out wide.
“We know we can defend well, and we’ve shown that in the Super 14 season, and also in the game against the Sharks.
“This week our biggest challenge will be at the breakdowns. That’s the area that has been crucial throughout the Super 14, and we have to be more accurate there.”
WP’s lack of accuracy at the breakdowns last week cost the side 17 penalties and six of those were converted into matchwinning points on the scoreboard.
Any repeat of that ill-discipline could prove equally costly this week because the Bulls Bulls have an excellent place-kicker in Morne Steyn.
The return of the the Springboks and the Emerging Springboks has resulted in hot competition for places in the matchday squad of 22, and capable players like Naas Olivier and Joe Pietersen have been left in the cold.
In the next week or two WP will also have Fijian international Sireli Naqelevuki back. The Stormers winger has been playing centre for Fiji, and he has been hugely impressive at the IRB Pacific Nations Cup.
“The Currie Cup comes with its challenges, and the players have to fight for places,” said Coetzee. “On the other hand, as the coach I have to ensure that the team has cover allround.
“One also wants to bring in continuity,” said Coetzee. “I’d like to start with the same backline – seven of them, because I feel it takes longer for backs to settle a combination.
“The forwards seem to settle down far quicker, and easier.”Tweet