Former DHL Western Province youth team prop Jean-Pierre Smith will return to Cape Town from the Brumbies in Australia and will form part of DHL WP’s 2015 Absa Currie Cup squad.
Smith is capable of playing at both loosehead and tighthead prop and he will bolster DHL WP’s prop resources during their Absa Currie Cup title defence in the absence of Steven Kitshoff and Frans Malherbe, who are with the Springbok squad at present, and Vincent Koch, who is on loan to the DHL Stormers for Vodacom Super Rugby only.
Twenty-five-year-old Smith is a former Paarl Gym scholar, who has represented DHL WP at Under-19 and Under-21 level, as well as playing five senior matches for the Vodacom Cup team in 2010.
WP Director of Rugby Gert Smal commented: “JP’s ability to play on either side of the scrum is a big boost for us, as Absa Currie Cup matchday squads are made up of just 22 (with just one prop on the bench).
“JP is a former Province man, so this a home-coming for him, but he would’ve learnt a lot during his spell in Australia and we look forward to welcoming him back here next week.”
Smith – along with his brother Ruan – moved to Australia in 2011 and made 24 appearances for the Brumbies, having made his debut against the Hurricanes in 2014.
The 124 kilogram front rower told the www.wprugby.com website: “I’m looking forward to returning home and contributing, in some way, to DHL WP’s 2015 Absa Currie Cup title defence.
“I think I have grown a lot during my time abroad, both on and off the field, but mainly on the field where I was fortunate to play in Super Rugby games against some tough and experienced international props.”
Smith will join up with his DHL Western Province teammates at training on Monday, July 13, in time for the remainder of their pre-season training.
DHL WP began their Absa Currie Cup preparations this past Monday, but they will kick-off their pre-season campaign in earnest next week with a ‘home’ friendly against the Pumas on Saturday, July 18 at the Drakenstein Correctional Centre (kick-off 16h00).
Province will also face up to the EP Kings in a friendly in Port Elizabeth on July 25, before their official Absa Currie Cup season gets underway on Friday, August 7 (v Qualifier – TBC).
Star centre Juan de Jongh will continue as DHL Western Province’s Absa Currie Cup captain this season, with loose forward Nizaam Carr serving as his deputy in 2015.
Earlier this week, new DHL Western Province head coach John Dobson confirmed that Dawie Snyman would work as the Currie Cup attack coach, with Paul Treu moving into a full-time role as defence coach and Vlokkie Cilliers continuing as kicking coach in a streamlined coaching unit.
“(Of course) I want to try and win the Absa Currie Cup, but I want a lot of players to come through and that means a hands-on approach for us as a coaching team,” said Dobson.
“We have a young group, and we need to bring these guys through during the Absa Currie Cup season, as we have always done here (at WP).
“I just cannot wait to get stuck in,” added Dobson, who has already achieved much success for DHL Western Province at Under-21 (since 2010) and Vodacom Cup level (since 2011). “It’s a big honour and a privilege to coach in this vibrant union and I am aware of the responsibilities that come with the job.”