Jean de Villiers is confident that his fellow Springbok players will make a difference to his Western Province team’s challenge in the annual ABSA Currie Cup Cape derby against Boland Cavaliers in Wellington on Saturday.
Gavin Rich writes for Superrugby that the Boland home ground has not been a happy visiting venue for the Cape’s premier team when wearing the blue and white hoops of WP over the past 10 years, and even in 1997, when Province broke a long drought by winning the Currie Cup, it took a last minute James Small try and a Louis Koen conversion to edge them home.
But, as De Villiers points out, when the Stormers, all but WP in name, play their regular pre-Super 14 warm-up fixture against the same opponents every January/February, it is usually a different story.
“WP don’t have a good record in Wellington, but when we play them in the pre-season friendly every year we tend to give them at least 60,” said De Villiers.
“People keep talking about our poor Currie Cup record in Wellington, but maybe there is something in the fact that I have yet to play a Currie Cup match in Wellington. This will be my first one. That is an indication that we usually play Boland there under-strength, which of course won’t be the case this time.”
De Villiers though is not under-estimating the Bolanders, who he says always have a lot to prove when they play against Province.
“Obviously Boland motivate themselves in a big way for their matches against us in the Currie Cup, and we are going there knowing that they will be lifting their game against us, as always is the case. We are expecting heavy under-foot conditions, which will make it more difficult, and we also know we have to win by as much as possible for the points differential, so we will definitely be switched on.”
The heavy conditions have been a matter of grave concern to WP in the build-up week, but they feel they may have an ally in the form of the Cape’s worst winter in ages.
“When other teams go to Boland Stadium the conditions are alien to them because they are used to playing on dry fields,” said WP coach Allister Coetzee.
“But we have done much of our training this year in wet conditions, and we are used to heavy under-foot conditions because that is what we play on down here.”
Indeed, WP did themselves the favour this week of changing practice fields, from their A field at the High Performance Centre to the B field, and Coetzee hopes it will reap benefits on Saturday.
“We don’t normally train on the B field because the drainage is terrible, but for this match we changed that and our Tuesday training session was conducted on that field. Because it is hard on the players calves we did not overdo it, but it should help us on Saturday.”Tweet