Vodacom WP coach Allister Coetzee on Wednesday included all his returning Springboks except Percy Montgomery when he announced his team to play the Vodacom Free State Cheetahs at Vodacom Park, Bloemfontein, on Saturday 6 September. Kick-off is at 15h00. Jean de Villiers will lead the team.
This is a very important game for Province, who are fifth on the log, nine points behind the Lions. They need to win all their remaining games with bonus points and hope for favourable results in other matches if they still want to reach the semi-finals.
Coetzee said it wasn’t difficult to select the team for this crucial game. “We had the Springboks available – every province would grab the opportunity to use the guys who are returning. It is a pleasure to have them back.
“They are professional and they want to be back with us – not only are they good players, but they are also leaders. Their attitude is really good. But at the same time we don’t throw our youngsters who served us so amicably thus far away.
“They are so excited to rub shoulders with the Boks. It’s always a challenge to unite a group of players when a situation like this arises, but that is why we took Monday off from training. We tried to organize things so that we could come up with a decent plan for Saturday.
“We had a look at what we did in the Super 14 and what we did at the Springboks and also at Currie Cup level and merge those into a feasible plan. It will be the first time in a long while that Ricky Januarie plays with Peter Grant and that Gcobani Bobo plays with Jean de Villiers, while Sereli Naqelevuki is also back, which means we have a new back three with him, Tonderai Chavhanga and Connie Jantjes.
“It is exciting, but we must hope things work out on the day. They have played together in the Super 14 and the guys are putting in the hard work to make it work.”
De Villiers, who led the Vodacom Stormers with aplomb in the Super 14, takes over the captaincy from Bobo. Coetzee said it was a logical move. “Jean is the senior team captain. He was our leader in the Super 14 and it really is not an issue.
“We have sorted that one out at the start of the year already. Bobes was aware of the fact that Jean was the senior captain and I must praise him for the effort he put in while he was the captain.”
Turning to Montgomery, who played 101 Tests for the Springboks and on Saturday announced his retirement from international rugby, Coetzee said the player was ill and therefore was not considered.
“He was on a drip yesterday still with a stomach ailment and that is why Wylie Human is on the bench. He didn’t train today either and probably would have been okay by tomorrow.
“The other factor that we took into consideration was the fact that Percy is completely new in the Cape. He doesn’t know our moves and our patterns and besides that we felt that he probably wouldn’t have been strong enough to play on Saturday.”
Lock Ross Skeate, who is on his way to France, has not been selected. Veteran AJ Venter covers lock on the bench, while JC Kritzinger is rewarded for his good performance against the Blue Bulls last week with a place on the bench ahead of Schalk Ferreira.
The Vodacom WP team is as follows:
15. Conrad Jantjes
14. Tonderai Chavhanga
13. Gcobani Bobo
12. Jean De Villiers (C)
11. Sireli Naqelevuki
10. Peter Grant
9. Ricky Januarie
8. Luke Watson
7. Francois Louw
6. Schalk Burger
5. Andries Bekker
4. Adriaan Fondse
3. Brian Mujati
2. Schalk Brits
1. Wicus Blaauw
16. Deon Fourie
17. JC Kritzinger
18. AJ Venter
19. Nick Koster
20. Bolla Conradie
21. Joe Pietersen
22. Wylie Human