DHL Western Province coach Allister Coetzee has made just one change to his starting line-up for Saturday’s Absa Currie Cup meeting with the Vodacom Blue Bulls at DHL Newlands (kick-off 14h05).
The only change to the DHL WP line-up sees Stephan Coetzee named in the No.2 jersey, in his first start at this level, with the injured Tiaan Liebenberg (back) dropping out this week.
Fellow hooker Scarra Ntubeni suffered an injury setback at training on Tuesday, meaning that UCT Varsity Cup star Neil Rautenbach gets a chance on the bench – on debut – as back-up to Coetzee. Ntubeni tweaked his calf muscle at training and will be out for a minimum of 14 days.
“We’ve seen in the past that a string of injuries occur in one position… it seems it’s the turn of hookers now,” Allister Coetzee told www.wprugby.com on Thursday.
“(Thankfully) Stephan has played off the bench previously, and he has (starting) Vodacom Super Rugby experience. Neil has been training with us, so we’re feeling good about our matchday squad.”
Whilst coach Coetzee has wisely not tampered too much with his starting team this week, there are plenty of new faces on the bench as Brok Harris, Ruan Botha (on Absa Currie Cup debut), Rynhardt Elstadt, Kurt Coleman and Jaco Taute all return.
Prop Harris (shoulder), lock Botha (ankle), flank Elstadt (shoulder) and flyhalf Coleman (knee) are all back from injury, whilst centre/fullback Taute is back from compassionate leave to give the home side a powerful bench with plenty of options.
“Selection was incredibly tough this week, but mostly for all the good reasons,” said Coetzee.
“Like I said earlier this week, we needed to marry continuity with players coming back and I am comfortable with the selections we have made this week and I have full confidence in each and every player in the team.”
Province opened their 2014 Absa Currie Cup campaign with a bonus-point win against the EP Kings in Port Elizabeth last Friday, whilst the Blue Bulls went down by 13-41 to the Golden Lions in Johannesburg.
“What happened last week matters for nothing, for both us and the Bulls,” said Coetzee.
“There is no such thing as a weak Blue Bulls side and you only have to think back to last year’s Absa Currie Cup encounter between our two teams when a young Bulls team was a conversion away from beating us.
“We’re preparing for a tough encounter against the Bulls, as always, and we’re certainly determined to give a good account of ourselves in front of our home fans at DHL Newlands.”
Matches get underway at 09h45 on Saturday, with the DHL WP Under-19s in action against the Bulls Under-19s, before the DHL WP Under-21 team takes on the Bulls U21s.
Tickets are priced from just R35 (for standing), whilst seating prices range between R55, R65, R75 and R95 and can be purchased right now from wprugby.ticketpros.co.za.
Match tickets can also be bought directly from the DHL Newlands Box Office (opening times this week: Tuesday-Friday, 09h00-16h00 and Saturday, 09h00-14h30), or from selected Western Cape Spar stores and PostNet branches (nationwide).
The DHL WP team for Saturday (v the Blue Bulls) is as follows:
15. Cheslin Kolbe
14. Kobus van Wyk
13. Juan de Jongh (captain)
12. Michael van der Spuy
11. Seabelo Senatla
10. Demetri Catrakilis
9. Nic Groom
8. Nizaam Carr
7. Michael Rhodes
6. Siya Kolisi
5. Manuel Carizza
4. Jean Kleyn
3. Pat Cilliers (vice-captain)
2. Stephan Coetzee (First Absa Currie Cup start for DHL Western Province)
1. Alistair Vermaak
16. Neil Rautenbach (On Absa Currie Cup debut for DHL Western Province)
17. Brok Harris
18. Ruan Botha (On Absa Currie Cup debut for DHL Western Province)
19. Rynhardt Elstadt
20. Louis Schreuder
21. Kurt Coleman
22. Jaco Taute (On Absa Currie Cup debut for DHL Western Province)
Referee: Rasta Rasivhenge
Assistant referees: Marius van der Westhuizen, Quinton Immelman
Television match official: Jason Jaftha