The Western Province team have something of an experimental look about it, a risk even against the demoralised Boland Cavaliers.
Even Province coach Allister Coetzee acknowledged that the eight changes made to their side to play their Western Cape neighbours, Boland, could result in the team showing some ‘rustiness’ in the early stages of the match.
Coetzer was justified in using this game to rest his key players, ahead of the play-offs, but it has added an element of risk to this game for a WP team would normally be expected to put at least 50 points past the Cavaliers.
The most interesting inclusion in the starting XV is that of the former Australian schoolboy flyhalf Matt Toomua, who joined the Province last week on a short-term contract. He was let loose in the second half against Griquas last week and he made a good impression.
The talented young Aussie would be expected to give Province direction.
The other risk posed by Boland is the number of WP players they on loan.
Province forwards coach Matthew Proudfoot felt the most dangerous of them all is Springbok utility forward Hilton Lobberts.
“Can you just imagine how Hilton is going to fly into those rucks?” Proudfoot asked.
Lobberts, bought from the Bulls to shore up Province’s lock resources, just wasn’t getting enough game time in Cape Town and was loaned to a Boland team desperate for some quality tight forwards.
The twice-capped Bok is certainly a quality forward, although he hasn’t played too much rugby in the second row in recent years.
“Any tight forward needs to play all the time to get into a rhythm, and that hasn’t happened for him at Province,” Proudfoot said.
“The physicality he brings to the team is enormous, almost like a Bakkies Botha does for the Bulls and Boks. He will get five to six games for Boland, which is important for him ahead of next year’s Super 14.”
Province, already guaranteed of their place in the Currie Cup semifinals, could secure themselves home ground advantage in the play-offs with a win on Saturday.
rugby365 Prediction: Expect another massacre of a Boland team in disarray. There are too few quality players, too few players like Hilton Lobberts, in the Cavaliers outfit. Province to win by 30 points or more.
Western Province: 15 Joe Pietersen, 14 Tonderai Chavhanga, 13 Frikkie Welsh, 12 Paul Bosch, 11 Sireli Naqelevuki, 10 Matt Toomua, 9 Ricky Januarie, 8 Luke Watson (captain), 7 Pieter Louw, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Andries Bekker, 4 De Kock Steenkamp, 3 JC Kritzinger, 2 Tiaan Liebenberg, 1 JD Moller.
Replacements: 16 Deon Fourie, 17 Brok Harris, 18 Anton van Zyl, 19 Duane Vermeulen, 20 Bolla Conradie, 21 Conrad Hoffmann, 22 Juan de Jongh.
Boland: 15 Hayden Groepes, 14 Deon Scholtz, 13 Cornel Hendricks, 12 Dewey Swartbooi, 11 Wendal Wehr, 10 Elgar Watts, 9 Marnus Hugo, 8 Junior Bester, 7 Hilton Lobberts, 6 Angelo Brinkhuys, 5 Rito Hlungwani (captain), 4 Nico Esterhuyse, 3 Jacobie Adriaanse, 2 Harry Vermaas, 1 Janro van Niekerk.
Replacements: 16 Clemen Lewis, 17 Michael de Neuilly-Rice, 18 Grant le Roux, 19 David Hendricks, 20 Danie van der Merwe, 21 Mark Harris, 22 Justin Peach.