Western Province will take on the Currie Cup champions, the Sharks, on Saturday with an All Black in their side. On Monday lock Chris Jack trained for the first time with his new team-mates and could make his debut at Newlands on Saturday.
Altus Momberg reports for sport24 that WP coach, Allister Coetzee, said he was very pleased with the former All Black lock’s contribution to Monday’s training session in Bellville.
“I am very happy with how he looked. He is very fit and you can see that he is a professional player in every sense of the word.”
“It is clear that he will get to know our calls and structures very quickly. You don’t expect anything less from a player who has played that many Tests for the All Blacks and matches for the Crusaders. I think he could definitely be part of our 22-man squad for the weekend’s match,” said Coetzee.
Jack, 30, who until recently played for Saracens in England, is a veteran of 67 matches for New Zealand. He has a contract with Western Province until the end of October after which he will return to New Zealand to try and win back his spot in the All Black team to take part in the World Cup which is being played in New Zealand in 2011.
But Jack is not the first All Black to play for WP. Wing Tim Mason moved to Cape Town in 1950 and played twice for WP.
Jack is also not the only reinforcement that the team has available for the big match against the Sharks – Springbok scrumhalf, Ricky Januarie, has been freed up for provincial duty and is available. Springboks Jean de Villiers and Andries Bekker (injured), are however not available, while Schalk Burger remains suspended.
Coetzee will also only find out on Tuesday if eighth man, Duane Vermeulen, is ready to face the Sharks. He injured his left hand in the match for the Emerging Boks against the Lions at Newlands. Francois Louw, Hilton Lobberts and Deon Fourie are recovering well, but they will not be considered for the weekend’s match.
The coach is confident that they will begin the Currie Cup on a positive note.
“We have prepared very well over the last few weeks and are ready. We play against three of the bigger and stronger teams in the first three weeks and know what is waiting for us,” said Coetzee.
WP tackle the Blue Bulls next weekend in Pretoria, then meet the Cheetahs the week after at Newlands.
WP appeared strong in wet conditions against the British and Irish Lions, which augers well given that the match might be played in similar conditions with rain predicted from Friday.
Willem de Waal also showed that he is a man for wet conditions when he converted a try for the Emerging Boks in the dying moments of the game. It was also his long and accurate pass that helped Danwel Demas score the try he converted.
“We definitely have enough versatile players to play any pattern. It doesn’t matter what the conditions are,” said Coetzee.Tweet