DHL Western Province are expecting a physical onslaught from GWK Griquas in their Vodacom Cup quarterfinal at DHL Newlands on Saturday (15h30).
For that reason DHL WP coach John Dobson has beefed up his pack ahead of the weekend, with regular No.5 Gerbrandt Grobler moving to the side of the scrum and Taz Fuzani and Wilhelm van der Sluys packing down in the second row.
“We’re blessed to have three quality locks in Gerbrandt, Taz and Wilhelm and we need all three of them on the field from the start,” explained Dobson. “Taz’s physicality is huge for us and Wilhelm and Gerbrandt are two excellent line-out exponents.”
Vice-captain Grobler will wear the No.7 jersey in a new-look loose trio, with fetcher Rohan Kitshoff getting a call-up after returning to the Western Cape from France. Regular No.8 Rayn Smid will continue at the back of the scrum.
“It’s great having Rohan back in the Cape,” said Dobson. “He’s back at his club, Durb-Bell, and looking to play his rugby here again. He will add mongrel and, of course, he comes with the experience of being part of last year’s team.
“We have two loose forwards on an exciting bench, in Graham Knoop and Sikhumbuzo Notshe, so we’ll look to them to make an impact when they get on.”
No.6 Kitshoff scored the winning try for DHL WP in last year’s dramatic Vodacom Cup Final triumph in Kimberley, with last year’s final opponents, GWK Griquas, in wait this weekend in the quarterfinals.
Said Dobson: “Last year has absolutely no bearing for us this week. Of the current team, only Rohan, Marcel (Brache) and Kurt (Coleman) started in last year’s final and Wilhelm and Berton (Klaasen) were on the bench.
“I’m sure Griquas will have last year’s final in mind… but all we’re worried about is the physical threat they bring and fronting up to that challenge. This is a good Griquas team – better than their results (this season) suggest, so we’re expecting a massive onslaught from them.”
Inside centre Marcel Brache has been named to start and will captain the side, despite coach Dobson being a bit worried about his fitness. Brache has missed his team’s last two games with a quad-muscle injury.
“Marcel is important to us – as a player and a leader, so we will give him until the weekend,” explained the Province boss. “We’re lucky to have someone like Kobus van Wyk waiting in the wings and, of course, the experience of Bolla Conradie is also there for us should Marcel not make it.”
Under Dobson’s coaching, WP have lost just two Vodacom Cup matches in three seasons – once in the play-offs (in 2011) and one league encounter (earlier this season).
The WP boss, along with assistant coaches Dawie Snyman and Labeeb Levy, will be hoping that their winning culture will put them in good stead at home at DHL Newlands on Saturday.
“Griquas have a lot more Currie Cup experience in their team,” said Dobson. “I’ve been very impressed with how this young team of ours has progressed this year, hopefully they can take it a step further come the weekend.
“It’s also a great opportunity for us to be back at DHL Newlands for a big game like this. We’re grateful to be playing at Newlands and will make sure we do this proud ground justice on Saturday.”
* Tickets for Saturday are available from the DHL Newlands box office only. Sales commence on Saturday, May 4 from 12h00 to 15h30. Entry is free for ALL season ticket holders, but all seating is unreserved. (SEE MORE HERE!)
The DHL Western Province Vodacom Cup team to take on Griquas:
15. Cheslin Kolbe
14. Pat Howard
13. Berton Klaasen
12. Marcel Brache (captain)
11. Devon Williams
10. Kurt Coleman
9. Bolla Conradie
8. Rayn Smid
7. Gerbrandt Grobler (vice-captain)
6. Rohan Kitshoff
5. Wilhelm van der Sluys
4. Taz Fuzani
3. Chris Heiberg
2. Mike Willemse
1. Tjoppie Ferreira
16. Stephan Coetzee
17. Ashley Wells
18. Graham Knoop
19. Sikhumbuzo Notshe
20. Godlen Masimla
21. Kobus van Wyk
22. Tim Swiel
Referee: Sindile Mayende