Western Province coach John Dobson has picked all his available Springboks for Saturday’s Currie Cup semi-final against the Blue Bulls at Newlands.
Damian Willemse comes it at flyhalf after Dillyn Leyds passed a fitness test after suffering from a calf strain. He will start at fullback.
Bok hooker Bongi Mbonambi starts with Scarra Ntubeni dropping to the bench‚ and tighthead Wilco Louw starts again.
Although young flyhalf Josh Stander played a superb tactical game in the pouring rain at Loftus last week‚ Dobson had no hesitation bringing Willemse back at flyhalf.
“It was tough on Josh to be left out‚” Dobson said.
“But we took a policy decision to respect the returning Springboks and select them.
“If you start deciding that your Springboks aren’t good enough for your team‚ you get into a tricky area in terms of player motivation.
“We couldn’t leave Dillyn out after he was passed fit which players such as JJ Engelbrecht on the bench and even Dan du Plessis had to miss out.
“Damian is also a really good fullback and we played him there (in the Currie Cup) last year because we thought that was good for the progression of his career.
“But we have worked out that with SP Marais and Dillyn Leyds‚ who can come into flyhalf on second and third phase‚ it allows Damian to play wide and come into the attack at pace. That can be devastating.
“We don’t want Damian trapped outside nine with five forwards in front of him. It’s vital we get him into space because he is such a weapon.”
There is also a return at No 8 for Juarno Augustus after two weeks out with a calf strain and he starts in place of Bok No 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe who was a knee injury.
Notshe will be fit for the final if WP progress‚ but Dobson was happy to leave him out this week with Augustus’ return.
“Notshe could have been injected and asked to play but we thought it better to leave him out‚” Dobson said.
“Trokkie (Augustus) has been good and I’m very excited about what he can bring. This game‚ against the Bulls at Newlands‚ is tailor-made for him and his style of play.”
Last week WP led 34-7 against the Bulls at halftime before the match was called off because of severe lightning and torrential rain.
But in those first 40 minutes WP’s scrum destroyed the Bulls pack. Dobson though wasn’t getting too carried away by that and was expecting a full backlash.
“There is no doubt the Bulls have spent some time on the Loftus ‘B’ field with scrum coach Gary Botha‚ a scrum machine or two packs‚” Dobson said.
“For us to get the same dominance again will take a lot more work. I just hope we get a fair shot in terms of how the laws are applied. But I think they will play slightly differently this week‚ but keeping the ball and putting us under pressure that way.”
15 Dillyn Leyds‚ 14 Sergeal Petersen‚ 13 Ruhan Nel‚ 12 Dan Kriel‚ 11 SP Marais‚ 10 Damian Willemse‚ 9 Herschel Jantjies‚ 8 Juarno Augustus‚ 7 Ernst van Rhyn‚ 6 Kobus van Dyk‚ 5 JD Schickerling‚ 4 Chris van Zyl (captain)‚ 3 Wilco Louw‚ 2 Bongi Mbonambi‚ 1 Ali Vermaak.
16 Scarra Ntubeni‚ 17 Caylib Oosthuizen‚ 18 Michael Kumbirai‚ 19 Salmaan Moerat‚ 20 Jaco Coetzee‚ 21 Paul de Wet‚ 22 Josh Stander‚ 23 JJ Engelbrecht.