Stormers squad members Stephan Coetzee, Tazz Fuzani and Sikhumbuzo Notshe are all back in the Western Province team for Saturday’s Vodacom Cup clash against the Free State XV at City Park (16:00 kick-off).
Coetzee, Fuzani and Notshe all spent some time with the Stormers in Australasia last month and were also part of the match-day squad that featured against the Waratahs last weekend.
Hooker Coetzee will start in the WP front row this week, with Fuzani and Notshe lining up at lock and flank, respectively.
WP will have a new flyhalf this week, for the first time this season, with Gary van Aswegen out with an injury. Kurt Coleman will start at No 10, along with a new-look centre combination – both on debut – in the shape of Varsity Cup stars Robert du Preez (Maties) and Huw Jones (UCT).
Western Province coach John Dobson told the WP Rugby website: “We have an injury or two more than we would like.
“Losing Gary, Kyle Lombard and Johnny Kotze is a blow but to be able to welcome back Notshe and Tazz is fantastic. They are awesome players and individuals who understand how we play and our culture.
“The selection of Robert du Preez is also an exciting one. He really is a great acquisition for WP Rugby and we look forward to exposing him fully to the Province culture this week.
Robert, like many top quality No 10s before – players like Dan Carter and Johnny Wilkinson spring to mind immediately here – will start his senior career at inside centre, but he will definitely get game time at flyhalf on Saturday.
“Gary is a loss, like I said, but we’re so fortunate to call upon Kurt in the No 10 shirt and, of course, the selection of Huw Jones, the best centre in the Varsity Cup, is very exciting for us too – despite losing both Kyle Lombard and Johnny Kotze.
“Huw Jones is not the only fresh face from the Varsity Cup this week – after Jan de Klerk, Lungelo Chonco and Jean Nel joined us last week,” added Dobson.
“As we all know, Robert du Preez ended the Varsity Cup season as the Player of the Tournament, whilst UCT’s hardman, Shaun McDonald, the 2014 Forward of the Tournament, also trained with us this week.”
Looking ahead to Saturday, which sees Western Province return to their home away from home – City Park in Crawford – Dobson concluded: “It’s a very important game for us – it will decide if we get a home play-off or not.
“The Free State XV have produced excellent results this season and have also only lost one game – (also) to the Sharks XV. They’re an all-round side and are enjoying their best Vodacom Cup season in many years and we know they will never stop playing, but, then again, neither will we!
“We have some nice plans and hope that those who feel like seeing some attractive rugby between two sides who really like to play come along to City Park on Saturday.”
15. Tiger Bax, 14. JP Lewis, 13. Huw Jones, 12. Robert du Preez, 11. Devon Williams, 10. Kurt Coleman, 9. Jean Nel, 8. Carel du Preez, 7. Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 6. Rohan Kitshoff (captain), 5. Jan de Klerk, 4. Tazz Fuzani, 3. Entienne Swanepoel, 2. Stephan Coetzee, 1. Alistair Vermaak
Substitutes: 16. Michael Willemse, 17. Deacon Chowles, 18. Jan Uys, 19. Eital Bredenkamp, 20. Freddie Muller, 21. Janco Gunter, 22. Chevandre van Schoor
15 Luke Cyster, 14 Alvin Brandt, 13 Nico Lee, 12 Niel Marais (captain), 11 Sino Ganto, 10 Riaan Smit, 9 Renier Botha, 8 Heinrich Brüssow, 7 Wayven Smith, 6 Zingisa April, 5 Waltie Vermeulen, 4 Neil Claassen, 3 Luan de Bruin, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1 Kevin Stevens.
Substitutes: 16 Hercu Liebenberg, 17 Nick Schonert, 18 Philip du Preez, 19 Peet Coetzee, 20 KK Hlongwane, 21 Joubert Engelbrecht, 22 Don Mlondobozi