Western Province coach Allister Coetzee expects the Blue Bulls to target his front row in the scrums when the two teams go head-to-head in a Currie Cup Round Nine match at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Friday.
Rugby 365 reports that Province’s ailing fortunes took another turn for the worse when prop Brok Harris was ruled out of this north-south derby. The front row forward picked up an ankle injury at training on Monday and is expected he’ll be out of action for at least a week.
WP Under-21 tighthead prop JC Kritzinger will be in for a baptism of fire when he starts his first Currie Cup match. He will be packing down against the experienced World Cup-winning Springbok Gürthro Steenkamp.
Coetzee admitted that his team’s lack of experience in the front row will be seen as a weakness by the powerful Bulls pack.
“No doubt the Bulls will test us in the scrums,” Coetzee told a media gathering on Wednesday.
“Tighthead is a crucial position in the scrums, but this is a great opportunity for JC [Kritzinger] to show his ability,” the WP coach said, adding: “The Bulls do have a very experienced pack and we are expecting a very physical encounter.”
The inclusion of the young prop, Kritzinger, is the only change to the starting XV.
Springbok flyhalf Peter Grant has not yet fully recovered from his shoulder surgery and spends another week on the sidelines, with Joe Pietersen continuing in the pivot position. Grant is expected to be ready to be considered for next weekend’s game against the Cheetahs.
Western Province: 15 Gio Aplon, 14 Wylie Human, 13 PJ Vermeulen, 12 Gcobani Bobo (captain), 11 Tonderai Chavhanga, 10 Joe Pietersen, 9 Bolla Conradie, 8 Nick Köster, 7 Francois Louw, 6 Pieter Louw, 5 Ross Skeate, 4 Adriaan Fondse, 3 JC Kritzinger, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Wicus Blaauw.
Replacements: 16 Deon Fourie, 17 Schalk Ferreira, 18 AJ Venter, 19 Conraad Britz, 20 Dewaldt Duvenhage, 21 Matthew Rosslee, 22 Morgan Newman.