A proud Jean de Villiers has assured Western Province rugby supporters that his team will rise, and that a return to the good times is imminent.
Stephen Nell writes in Die Burger that Province have not won the Currie Cup for seven lean years and they failed to qualify for this season’s semi-finals, but De Villiers is positive about the future.
“This team will get up,” the WP captain said after the 14-6 victory over the Lions here on Saturday. “We did not reach the semi-finals but I am a proud captain. I can see big things coming.”
Ample depth in squad
The WP and Stormers supporters probably feel they have heard enough post-mortems and promises but De Villiers explained: “The last time we, as a squad, lost at Newlands was (in a Super 14 match) against the Crusaders in February.”
And the last time the full-strength squad lost an away match, was against the Blues in Auckland, also in the Super 14.
Because a large part of the Currie Cup competition is played during the international season, WP coach Allister Coetzee has come to realise how important it is to have ample depth in the squad.
“When you have to start without your Springboks, you must make sure you have enough depth,” he said after the team’s last match of the season.
“We never expected to lose 13 international players at one stage. One cannot predict those things,” Coetzee said.
“It is unacceptable not to reach the semi-finals but we are making plans,” Coetzee added.
The defeat against the Falcons in Brakpan was a massive blow to WP’s campaign. Even without their Springboks, the team should easily have won that match.
Lack of depth is therefore not the only reason for missing out on a place in the play-offs.
The competition is certainly poorer without the Cape side in the semi-finals because when they field their best team, WP are probably the only team than can beat the Sharks.
They have shown in recent weeks that they are better than the Cheetahs and the Lions, who have now qualified for the semi-finals.
One consolation is that WP have established coaching structures at senior level and have a Super 14 team that should compete strongly for a semi-final berth next season.
The depth of talent has improved, with players such as Wicus Blaauw, JC Kritzinger and Nick Koster coming through strongly. Young inside centre Morgan Newman has also shown promiseTweet