DHL Stormers forwards Ali Vermaak and Sikhumbuzo Notshe will bolster the DHL Western Province pack for their Vodacom Cup South Section crunch game against Griquas at Hoërskool Diamantveld in Kimberley on Saturday (kick-off 15h00).
Vermaak and Notshe came off the bench for the DHL Stormers in Perth last weekend, but will start at loosehead prop and openside flank, respectively, in this top-of-the-table encounter in Kimberley.
Coach John Dobson is expecting a tough battle on Saturday – as two unbeaten teams go head-to-head – and he explained his team selections: “We unfortunately could not consider the players who played on Tuesday night for the SA Under-20 team against the Varsity Cup Dream Team – we had players on both sides – given the important training that they had to miss and also to manage their loads.
“For a physical clash like this we need fresh warriors,” he added, “but we are able to at least welcome back (flank) Jacques Vermeulen and (wing/fullback) EW Viljoen – neither of whom played for the SA U20s (on Tuesday).
“(Wing) Mat Turner he comes in for JP Lewis who played and took a knock on Tuesday. (Scrumhalf) Godlen Masimla is over his hamstring injury and it’s great to have Sikhumbuzo Notshe back, so he comes in at No.6.
“Ali Vermaak is also back from the DHL Stormers tour, which is a boost – especially with Sti Sithole out, and it’s good to have both hooker Mikey Willemse, our regular skipper, up front and tighthead prop Wilco Louw starting again – both having been rotated last week.”
Saturday’s match is a repeat of the 2012 Vodacom Cup Final – also played in Kimberley – and pits the two top sides in the South Section against each other.
These two sides have not faced each other in the Vodacom Cup since 2013, when DHL WP won 21-13 in the quarterfinal stages at DHL Newlands (both of Province’s tries that day coming from one Cheslin Kolbe).
“It’s a very important game for us and we are looking forward to it,” Dobson told thewww.wprugby.com website.
“It’s the two unbeaten teams in a top-of-the-table clash and we really will have our mettle tested in Kimberley, but it’s for games like this that you play the game. The ones that test you, the one’s that require sacrifice and a team effort and the chance to do something special – that’s where the rewards lie.”
The DHL Western Province team to face Griquas (away) is as follows:
15. Garth April
14. Tshotsho Mbovane
13. Kyle Lombard
12. Robert du Preez
11. Mat Turner
10. Jean-Luc du Plessis
9. Godlen Masimla
8. Rayn Smid
7. Jacques Vermeulen
6. Sikhumbuzo Notshe
5. Chris van Zyl
4. Jan de Klerk
3. Wilco Louw
2. Michael Willemse (captain)
1. Ali Vermaak
16. Charlton van Jaarsveld
17. Deacon Chowles
18. Wilhelm van der Sluys
19. Justin Benn
20. SP Ferreira
21. EW Viljoen
22. Willy Ambaka
Referee: Stephan Geldenhuys
Assistant referees: Jaco Kotze, Local