The DHL Western Province Under-21 team might be the defending Absa Provincial Under-21 champions, but they have no intention of going out to defend their title in 2014. They want to go out there and win the trophy!
The DHL WP U21s will start their new season against Free State’s Under-21s at City Park on Saturday (kick-off 15h30) and, for coach John Dobson, it’s a new campaign and a brand-new start for a new-look team.
“We may not have quite the stars of last year, but this group has a good work-ethic and some real ability and should get stronger as the season progresses,” Dobson told www.wprugby.com.
“Whilst we do have a few players returning this year we can’t rely on anything we achieved last season. It’s a new season and a new campaign… it’s not about defending our title, but rather about going out there to win the title.”
Combative forward Eital Bredenkamp will skipper the team in 2014, mostly from the No.6 jersey – despite also being more than comfortable at hooker – whilst wing JP Lewis, centres Johnny Kotze and Kyle Lombard, scrumhalf Jean Nel, No.8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, lock Jean Kleyn and prop Entienne Swanepoel are all survivors from last year’s cup-winning squad.
New faces JD Schickerling (lock) and Jacques Vermeulen (loose forward) are both fresh out of school, but they will slot right into the Under-21 mix after impressing for the SA Under-20 side during the IRB Junior World Championships in New Zealand last month.
Said Dobson: “I think despite the injury list and some players being unavailable at the moment, exceptional players like Justin Geduld, Sti Sithole, Jan Uys, Jurie van Vuuren, EW Viljoen, Luke van der Smit, Deacon Chowles to name a few, we are putting out a strong team.
“We are looking forward to playing at City Park, it’s great to start our 2014 campaign there. It’s a fantastic ground and our home (away) from home, but we know it will be a very hard game.
“We know Free State play rugby that’s hard to defend and (that) they never stop coming at you. Of course, we are also well aware that we lost 16-18 in the corresponding fixture last year in Bloemfontein when we had star-studded team, so we’re aware of what to expect come Saturday.”
* Ground entry is FREE on Saturday – for both the Under-19 and Under-21 matches. City Park is based on the corner of Thornton and Lawson Roads in Crawford and easily accessible from the M5 and N2 freeways.
The DHL WP Under-21 team for Saturday (v Free State) is as follows:
15. Huw Jones
14. JP Lewis
13. Johnny Kotze
12. Kyle Lombard
11. Lihleli Xoli
10. Janco Gunter
9. Jean Nel
8. Sikhumbuzo Notshe
7. Jacques Vermeulen
6. Eital Bredenkamp (captain)
5. Jean Kleyn
4. JD Schickerling
3. Entienne Swanepoel
2. Freddie Kirsten (vice-captain)
1. Wesley Adonis
16. Chad Solomon
17. Chippie Oelofse
18. John Meyer
19. Carel du Preez
20. Tapiwa Tsomondo
21. Jason Marcus
22. Chris Smith