Utility back Joe Pietersen will start at flyhalf when Western Province host the Sharks this Friday
Keo.co.za reports that Willem de Waal’s injury left a massive hole in the WP backline. Springbok Peter Grant is already out with a shoulder injury while other contracted flyhalves like Isma-eel Dollie (Boland), Ricardo Croy (SWD Eagles) and Naas Olivier (Griquas) are getting game time with other unions. The ultimate result sees a very green Province outfit fronting a formidable Sharks side loaded with Springboks.
Earlier in the week, WP U21 players Coenie van Wyk and Matthew Rosslee alternated at pivot, but Coetzee has finally given the 78kg Pietersen an opportunity to show what he can do at 10. Pietersen will also kick for goal.
“Joe was our back up to Peter Grant in the Super 14, and has the boot and the core skills to do well at flyhalf,” Coetzee told keo.co.za. “He’s in form and he has the confidence to do well against the Sharks this Friday.”
The extent of De Waal’s injury is yet to be confirmed, but Coetzee said he will not bring Dollie back into the WP set-up.
“It’s definitely not possible. When Peter and willem come back, Isma-eel will be back to third-choice. He has the opportunity to start at Boland so it would be unfair to recall him at this stage.”
The injury to Deon Fourie forces Schalk Brits to return to the front row with 19-year-old Nick Koster replacing Brits at No 8. If Fourie is not cleared to play from the bench, Simon Westraadt will take his place.
Koster is one of three changes to a WP back row that excludes AJ Venter. Francois Louw shifts to No 7 and Pieter Louw to No 6, meaning Province will be without a specialist fetcher.
“We are lacking in depth when it comes to a specialist in this position,” said Coetzee. “Schalk Burger and Luke Watson are with the Boks while Pieter Myburgh is injured. It would be ideal to have these guys available but we have to fill the gaps to the best of our ability.
“Pieter Louw is hungry and he’s fit and we are confident about this combination. Nick had a fantastic game last week, but success this Friday will depend on the success of our loose forwards as a combination.”
Dylan Des Fountain’s dislocated toe sees PJ Vermeulen back in the run-on team while Pietersen’s move to pivot also allows Springbok Tonderai Chavhanga a start on the wing.
WP – 15 Gio Aplon, 14 Tonderai Chavhanga, 13 PJ Vermeulen, 12 Gcobani Bobo (c), 11 Wylie Human, 10 Joe Pietersen, 9 Bolla Conradie, 8 Nick Koster, 7 Francois Louw, 6 Pieter Louw, 5 Ross Skeate, 4 Adriaan Fondse, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Wicus Blaauw.
Subs: 16 Simon Westraadt/ Deon Fourie, 17 JC Kritzinger, 18 AJ Venter, 19 Conraad Britz, 20 Dewaldt Duvenhage, 21 Matthew Rosslee, 22 Morgan Newman.