Herschel Jantjies is set to start the Currie Cup final for Western Province against the Sharks after it was conformed that Paul de Wet has been ruled out of the match.
Jantjies started the semi-final against the Blue Bulls‚ which WP won 35-32 after extra time‚ while De Wet came off the bench before sustaining an ankle injury in the dying minutes.
Veteran Jano Vermaak is in a race against time to be fit after missing the last two matches with a thumb injury. According to backline coach Dawie Snyman‚ Vermaak will get as much time as possible to prove his fitness.
It’s a slightly less optimistic tone after head coach John Dobson said that Vermaak was “99%” ready to play in the immediate aftermath of the semi-final win at the weekend.
The 22-year-old Jantjies had his moments in the semi-final but showed inexperience in his ability to control the tempo of the match at times.
“It’s been a great season for Herschel and he has played his part when he’s been given his chance‚” Snyman said.
“We have full confidence in him if he needed to do the job. Last weekend he experienced a bit of pressure and that will definitely help him in the future.
“We’re happy with where Herschel is‚ but it’s not just about him but the guys around him to help make the right decisions.”
After reviewing the tense semi-final‚ in which the Bulls outscored WP by four tries to two‚ Snyman believes that WP will be much better for the experience of having being taken to the brink of elimination.
WP battled to cope with the Bulls’ ferocious line speed‚ which bordered on offsides most of the match‚ and as a result their normally fluid game became untidy.
“The Bulls put us under pressure‚ which was something we haven’t experienced this season‚” Snyman said.
“But there were some lessons and we looked at them.
“They closed our space effectively. But there were opportunities around what they presented. We didn’t take those opportunities as we have previously in the season. We will have to improve that.
“The Bulls’ defence is slightly different to other teams‚ they certainly have the most line speed.”
As the mercury soared towards 40 degrees in Cape Town on Monday‚ the players were relieved to have no field session at their base in Bellville.
“It’s been a long season and like the last three weeks‚ we haven’t trained on a Monday to make sure their bodies are fresh and ready‚” Snyman said.
“We will stick to our strengths even though play-off rugby is different and presents more pressure. We must get our balance right.
“At stages against the Bulls we attacked when it wasn’t on and didn’t kick well‚ which has been a strength of ours this year.
“I don’t think there is more pressure on us this year because we are at home. That will be exciting for us. Having a home final was something we worked towards as a team and we will embrace the pressure.”