Western Province coach Allister Coetzee has left two World Cup-winning Springboks on the bench for Saturday’s Currie Cup semifinal showdown with the Blue Bulls.
Dewaldt Duvenhage will start ahead of Ricky Januarie at scrumhalf, while Schalk Burger will also play off the bench as Coetzee retained the in-form loose trio of captain Luke Watson, Duane Vermeulen and Francois Louw.
Coetzee also surprised by leaving Fijian flyer Sireli Naqelevuki on the bench, as he reshuffled his backline.
With Tonderai Chavhanga undergoing surgery to a troublesome shoulder, Gio Aplon starts on the right wing and Frikkie Welsh moves from midfield to the left wing. Juan de Jongh will start at outside centre in the vacancy left by Welsh’s shift, while Paul Bosch will start at inside centre.
The decision to start with Duvenhage was to be expected, since Januarie has struggled with his form this year and Duvenhage’s crisp service will be vital in a crunch game like the semifinal. However, Januarie has much more experience and he is familiar with Bulls No.9, Fourie Du Preez’s style of play.
“We have a specific plan for this game, and we want players who are experienced in our systems and structures,” Coetzee told the media on Wednesday.
“Dewaldt is perfect for how we want to play, and I don’t think it’s a risk [not opting for Januarie's experience] I think [the move] will work well this weekend. It might look like a risk but we feel this is the way to go.”
Burger, who has finally recovered from the injury problems that have sidelined him since the Tri-Nations, is sure to see action in the final half-an-hour.
“Schalk was cleared this week, but we are so blessed with the loose trio and we have to keep those systems going,” the Province boss said.
“It’s great to have a guy like Schalk Burger on the bench, he’s been good in training and it will be great to have him coming off the bench.”
Province skipper Luke Watson highlighted the experience of the Bok-laden Bulls but he stressed that the Cape side will be sticking to their style of play for Saturday’s knock-out game.
“It’s a much stronger Bulls side than the one we played earlier this year and they will be very confident,’ the Bath-bound Watson said.
“We will be relying on the style that we’ve played all season and hopefully we can execute it better this weekend. We have been performing very well this season and our team has been tried and tested.”
Western Province: 15 Joe Pietersen, 14 Gio Aplon, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Paul Bosch, 11 Frikkie Welsh, 10 Peter Grant, 9 Dewaldt Duvenhage, 8 Luke Watson (captain), 7 Duane Vermeulen, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Andries Bekker, 4 Anton van Zyl, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Tiaan Liebenberg, 1 Wicus Blaauw.
Replacements: 16 Deon Fourie, 17 JC Kritzinger, 18 De Kock Steenkamp, 19 Schalk Burger, 20 Ricky Januarie, 21 Matt To’omua, 22 Sireli Naqelevuki.
Date: Saturday, October 17
Venue: Newlands, Cape Town
Kick-off: 17.00 (15.00 GMT)
Referee: Mark Lawrence
Assistant referees: Jaco Peyper, Reuben Rossouw
TMO: Michael Cupido