“Our Springboks are looking fresh, don’t you think so?”
Stephen Nell writes in Die Burger that that was the response of Western Province coach Allister Coetzee to a question on Monday whether he was planning to rest some of his top players for Saturday’s Currie Cup match against Boland at Wellington.
Cheetahs coach Naka Drotské reportedly said on Monday that he would rest his captain, Juan Smith, provided Province don’t play their Boks.
WP and Cheetahs are locked in a fierce battle for a place in the semifinals, with points difference possibly ultimately being the deciding factor.
WP is currently 42 points ahead of the Cheetahs in terms of points difference, but the Cheetahs have only relatively easy games still to come – against the Falcons (away) and Boland (at home).
However, Boland – on their muddy home turf – are an altogether different prospect, and Coetzee wants to field his strongest team. He may even add two more Boks if tighthead prop Brian Mujati and hooker Schalk Brits recover from injury.
“No one has asked me to rest any players,” said Coetzee. “I make sure I manage the players correctly. They’re off today (Monday) and have had a nice long weekend.
“Rest is an individual thing. Some players are involved in more physical confrontations than others. At this point I want to select my best possible team. We still have some hard work ahead of us.”
If there is one player Bok coach Peter de Villiers may possibly be concerned about, it’s WP inside centre and captain Jean de Villiers.
De Villiers was on the field for every minute of the Stormers’ 13 Super 14 matches, started in all ten of South Africa’s Tests, and has already played in three Currie Cup matches.
Piet Heymans, CEO of the South African Rugby Players’ Association, confirmed on Monday that an agreement exists with SA Rugby that players may play only 32 matches in a season.
If WP reaches the Currie Cup final and De Villiers plays all the way through, he will already have notched up 30 matches for the season, with Tests against Wales, Scotland and England still to come. That could place SA Rugby in a position where they have to ask De Villiers for his permission to use him in the last Test of the year at Twickenham.
Coetzee can avert this potential problem by resting De Villiers this week and playing Morgan Newman instead. A similar concern could arise with regard to fullback Conrad Jantjes. One possibility is for Percy Montgomery to hold the fort at the back against Boland.
With points difference possibly ultimately being the deciding factor in the race for the Currie Cup semi-finals, it is understandable that Coetzee would want to pick his best team.Tweet