Eksteen steps up for DHL WP Under-21s in Bloemfontein

Aug 26 • General News • 2318 Views • Comments Off on Eksteen steps up for DHL WP Under-21s in Bloemfontein

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Ryno Eksteen will line up at inside centre for the top of the log DHL Western Province Under-21 team when they take on the Free State Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Friday (kick-off 16h40).

The DHL WP U21s will have a new 10/12 combination this week, with Brandon Thomson starting in the No.10 jersey following the loss of the Du Plessis cousins, Jean-Luc and Daniel, to injury.

Jean-Luc suffered a serious concussion during his team’s convincing 51-22 win over the Bulls and will be out of action for three weeks, whilst Daniel picked up an ankle injury which will sideline him for six weeks.

DHL WP Under-21 coach Robbie Fleck told the wprugby.com website: “It was a tough old game against the Bulls – despite the convincing scoreline… we had a few bumps and bruises and we’ve lost Jean-Luc and Daniel, as well as lock Johan Momsen, who also suffered a serious concussion.

“It’s obviously not ideal to lose your 10/12 spine,” he added. “I’ve spoken a lot about Jean-Luc and Daniel and their abilities in recent weeks, but we really are lucky to have Brandon Thomson (Thommo) and Ryno (Eksteen) to step in and fill those crucial positions.

“Thommo has been training well and he’s worked hard on the areas of his game we’ve asked him to concentrate on. It was always our intention to give him a go again and I have full confidence in him (to step into Jean-Luc’s shoes).

“Ryno came on early (at inside centre) last week and had a blinder and I’m very stoked for him after his injury troubles over the past few months. I’m particularly excited about Ryno’s selection at No.12 as I think he brings that New Zealand second five-eighth element to the party as a second flyhalf who adds a kicking and playmaking game alongside our flyhalf (Thomson).”

The DHL WP Under-21s finished the first half of the 2015 Absa Provincial Under-21 season in first place on the log with five victories (three of them bonus point wins) from six starts – three of those triumphs on the road and two coming at home.

Fleck, however, has stressed that the job is far from over, adding: “We need to keep working hard, especially as we will have a target on our backs after leading (the log) at the halfway stage.

“We’ve had a short week, with this match being on a Friday, but we’ve trained well and hard as we look to continue improving certain aspects of our game. I honestly think we’re still a work in progress, but the signs are there that we’re improving on a weekly basis.”

And looking ahead to Friday’s game, Fleck warned of yet another tough encounter against the Free Staters, who, he felt, troubled his team in their previous meeting at DHL Newlands a fortnight ago.

“To me, Free State were the best team we played against in the first half of the season,” he said.

“Yes, we won 22-0, but they had us under the cosh for the first 30 minutes and, remember, we led by just 3-0 at half-time. We had to battle hard to subdue them and I have no doubt they will be even tougher at home (this time around).”

The DHL WP Under-21 team for Friday (v FS Cheetahs, away) is as follows:

15. Grant Hermanus
14. Khanyo Ngcukana
13. EW Viljoen
12. Ryno Eksteen
11. Leolin Zas
10. Brandon Thomson
9. Justin Phillips
8. Rikus Bothma (captain)
7. Christo van der Merwe
6. Luke Stringer
5. David Ribbans
4. Kobus van Dyk
3. Frans van Wyk
2. Chad Solomon
1. Liam Hendricks


Replacements:

16. Martin Wipplinger
17. Wesley Adonis
18. Burger van Niekerk
19. Jacques Vermeulen
20. SP Ferreira
21. Jarryd Sage
22. Sibahle Maxwane


Referee:
 Sindile Ngcese

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