Inspirational skipper Rikus Bothma is back in the saddle for the DHL Western Province Under-21 team’s Absa Provincial Under-21 meeting with the Blue Bulls U21s at DHL Newlands on Friday (kick-off 16h45).
Bothma has been out of action with a groin niggle, but his return will boost the table-topping DHL WP U21s after their 32-32 draw against the Sharks in Durban last weekend.
His return, at No.8, sees Kobus van Dyk move to lock in place of stand-in captain Johannes Momsen – who has study commitments this week – with Brandon Thomson returning at flyhalf (for Chris Smith) and Martin Wipplinger getting a start at hooker ahead of Chad Solomon.
DHL WP Under-21 head coach Robbie Fleck explained his team changes this week: “Johannes has done well as captain in the absence of Rikus, but it’s always good to have a guy like Rikus (back) for such a big clash.
“Brandon will still have to undergo a late fitness test (on his hip pointer injury), with Ernst Stapelberg on standby, whilst Chad hasn’t trained much this week due to a slight knee injury so Martin gets a start at hooker.”
The in-form DHL Western Province U21s – who have lost just once in 2015 – claimed a brilliant 51-22 victory over the Bulls’ U21s in Pretoria last month, but Fleck has dismissed any talk or suggestions of under-estimating their opponents this week.
“This is a very, very different Bulls team,” Fleck warned, “they’re much changed – personnel-wise – from last time (out) and they’re coming to play rugby.
“They’re a positive team, unlike the Sharks who frustrated us a bit last week by being so negative with their mindset and play, but I guess we let ourselves down a bit with that finish when it looked like we had the game under control.
“The Bulls will be on a high after their excellent away win over the Lions last weekend and I can sense a new hunger in our camp this week ahead of the North-South Derby – a game that all DHL Western Province players and coaches dream of playing in and one we want to win (against our old foes)… especially at home at DHL Newlands,” Fleck told the www.wprugby.com website.
Match tickets are available for Friday’s three provincial North-South clashes at DHL Newlands. Starting at just R20 for standing room, with seats ranging between R30, R35, R40 and R50, tickets for ALL THREE GAMES can be bought at Computicket – either online (see our ticketing page, http://wprugby.computicket.com) or in-store – and also from Shoprite/Checkers stores and the DHL Newlands Box Office.
* The 2015 Rugby World Cup gets underway in the United Kingdom on Friday evening, with the opening match taking place between hosts England and Fiji at 21h00 (SA time). The DHL Newlands stadium bar, the 100s Bar, will remain open after Friday’s main match for fans to take in the RWC action!
The DHL WP Under-21 team for Friday (v Blue Bulls, home) is as follows:
15. Grant Hermanus
14. Khanyo Ngcukana
13. EW Viljoen
12. Ryno Eksteen (vice-captain)
11. Leolin Zas
10. Brandon Thomson
9. Justin Phillips
8. Rikus Bothma (captain)
7. Jacques Vermeulen
6. Luke Stringer
5. David Ribbans
4. Kobus van Dyk
3. Frans van Wyk
2. Martin Wipplinger
1. Wesley Adonis
16. Chad Solomon
17. Liam Hendricks
18. Devon Nash
19. Christo van der Merwe
20. SP Ferreira
21. Jarryd Sage
22. Sibahle Maxwane
Referee: Lourens van der Merwe