Western Province coach Allister Coetzee is not prepared to take his eye off the ball as his charges come up against teams who are presently propping up the Currie Cup log.
WP will play the winless Griquas in Kimberley on Saturday after which the Brakpan-based Falcons and Boland Cavaliers lie in wait for the “Streeptruie”.
But Coetzee will resist the temptation to rest his star players against the Currie Cup minnows in their upcoming matches.
“Playing Griquas away has never been easy, and we really would like to come away with the spoils,” said Coetzee. “The time for experimentation in the team is over.”
Coetzee has seldom made changes to the WP teams since he took over as head coach and says he would like to choose the same backline as often as possible.
There has been concern about the fact that the players outside the regular run-on XV may not be match fit when they are called up to join the fray as substitutes.
However, Coetzee is determined to maintain the team’s momentum which has seen WP grind out two wins in three matches – all against the Currie Cup’s top dogs (Sharks, Blue Bulls and Cheetahs).
“If you had asked (Stormers coach) Rassie Erasmus after his team’s third game in the Super 14 if he wanted two wins from three outings he would have taken it any day,” said Coetzee. “That’s why am pleased that we have won two matches against the top three Currie Cup sides. The important thing now is that we must keep that winning momentum going.”
As a part of his efforts to manage the well-being of his workhorses Coetzee has often rested players at the start of a week.
Lock Ross Skeate who took a knock in Saturday’s clash against the Cheetahs has been sitting out at training, along with captain Gcobani Bobo who is down with influenza.
Flyhalf Willem de Waal who has been nursing a twitching hamstring since last week is also resting along with loose forward AJ Venter but Coetzee said that all four players will be fit for Saturday’s assignment in Kimberley.
One change which Coetzee will be forced to make will be at hooker where the first-choice Schalk Brits will be missed. Brits has joined the Springboks in New Zealand after the injury to John Smit.
Deon Fourie is the obvious choice as Brits’ replacement and his place on the substitutes’ bench will go to WP Vodacom Cup hooker Simon Westraadt.
WP recently released top-flight hooker Tiaan Liebenberg from his contract to allow him to join the French club Toulon.
However, Hanyane Shimange will soon be back from injury and once he regains match fitness, he’ll be challenging Fourie for the No 2 jersey.
“Shimmy (Shimange) is about two weeks away from being ready to play again,” said Coetzee. “I saw him last week and it looks like he’s shed about five kilograms and looks in good shape. I hope he’ll be ready to slot in very soon.” Coetzee will name his team to face Griquas at the team’s new headquarters in Bellville on Wednesday.Tweet