Western Province’s defeats at the hands of minnow sides like Griquas and Falcons in the past fortnight have added spice to Saturday’s Western Cape Currie Cup derby against Boland at Newlands.
News 24 reports that WP rugby is at an all-time low and neighbours Boland will fancy their chances of condemning their neighbours to a third successive defeat. And more so, after they did not lose to either Griquas or the Falcons earlier this season.
WP’s squad was bolstered by reinforcements as Springboks Schalk Brits, Brian Mujati, Peter Grant and Bolla Conradie all reported for duty at Monday’s training session but the Newlands brains trust will be aware that in the past players returning from the national team do not always fit into the team’s playing patterns that easily.
Tackling was the biggest sore point in WP’s last two matches and the presence of four returning Springboks is not going to provide an instant solution to that problem.
Coach Allister Coetzee will have to get the side’s defensive structures in place, much the same as Rassie Erasmus did when the Stormers campaigned in the 2008 Super 14 programme.
Handling errors was the other major concern and this shortcoming was rather surprising considering the Kimberley and Brakpan matches were not played in wet conditions.
Another problem was that WP started off slowly in both matches and were forced to play catch-up rugby, which saw them resort to desperate measures.
And then there is the over-reliance on the match winning boot of their flyhalf Willem de Waal, who was worth his weight in gold when he was largely instrumental in helping WP to defeat the Cheetahs and the Bulls earlier this season.
The returning Boks cannot all be considered automatic choices, considering the claims of the incumbents in their positions.
Grant is rated as the best flyhalf in South Africa but given De Waal’s undoubted match winning qualities, WP may decide to play him at at inside centre where he has done well in the past.
There has to be a concern about De Waal’s ability to get his line away at speed although that aspect of his play improved somewhat when he was partnered by Boland recruit Dewald Duvenhage in Brakpan on Friday night.
Duvenhage, the SA Under-20 scrumhalf, had an excellent outing in Brakpan and deserves another chance ahead of Conradie who hasn’t had much game time since he joined the Springbok squad.
Left in the lurch
Hooker Brits and prop Mujati should find their way into the starting line-up without too much consideration although Deon Fourie has done well in Brits’ absence.
The Springboks’ next engagement is three weeks away – they play Argentina on August 9 in Johannesburg, and it is likely that the national squad will be rested this week before regrouping next week.
Apart from the getting a Springbok boost there was more good news for WP who have been left in the lurch by their Fijian three-quarter Sireli Naqelevuki in the past two weeks.
After his disappearance the strong-running Naqelevuki has finally made contact with Newlands and will be reporting for duty later this week.Tweet