Absa Currie Cup players Sikhumbuzo Notshe and Robert du Preez are back in the DHL Western Province Under-21 team for Saturday’s meeting with the Blue Bulls at DHL Newlands on Saturday (11h45).
Both Notshe and Du Preez came on as replacements in last week’s Absa Currie Cup win over the EP Kings in Port Elizabeth (on debut), but they will bolster the WP U21s in Saturday’s big Absa Provincial Under-21 clash in Cape Town.
“I am excited about the side we are putting out – it’s a lot of changes from last week, but it’s great to have the likes of Notshe and Rob du Preez back down from the senior team,” WP Under-21 coach John Dobson told www.wprugby.com.
Aside from the return of Notshe and Du Preez, Dobson has restored outside centre Johnny Kotze, No.7 flank Jacques Vermeulen, lock Jan Uys and loosehead prop Sti Sithole to the starting XV from last week – DHL WP having beaten Border’s U21s by 90-0.
Dobson added: “Unfortunately, (lock) JD Schickerling has a groin strain. He could probably, at a push, have played, but it’s too early in this campaign and he is too young to be forced and risk more serious injury.
“That said, I was also pleased with the performance of Jan Uys and Seb Ferreira in that position (last week), which makes it a bit easier to go into a game like this without JD.
“All told, I think it’s a nicely-balanced side and we look forward to playing a compelling brand of rugby on Saturday.”
The Province Under-21s have picked up 19 log points from a possible 20 from just four matches so far in 2014, and they lead the second-placed Lions by points’ difference, with the Bulls U21s in third place on 16 points (also from four games).
Dobson, however, will not under-estimate the ‘Baby Bulls’, who, despite losing to the Lions last weekend, have some big names to call upon.
“I know the Bulls have massive pedigree with a great deal more SA Under-20 players than us, but we like challenges like this,” said the DHL WP U21 coach.
“At the same time, it’s our first game at DHL Newlands (in 2014) and we are looking forward to it a lot. The guys have worked hard this week and they’re looking forward to the challenge that comes with playing in a North-South Derby.”
* Saturday’s programme at DHL Newlands gets underway at 09h45, with the WP Under-19s in action against the Bulls Under-19s, before the WP Under-21 team takes on the Bulls U21s.
Of course, the main game is between the DHL Western Province and Vodacom Blue Bulls – an Absa Currie Cup, Round Two clash – at 14h05.
Tickets are priced from just R35 (for standing), whilst seating prices range between R55, R65, R75 and R95 and can be purchased right now from http://wprugby.ticketpros.co.za.
Match tickets can also be bought directly from the DHL Newlands Box Office (opening times this week: Tuesday-Friday, 09h00-16h00 and Saturday, 09h00-14h30), or from selected Western Cape Spar stores and PostNet branches (nationwide).
The DHL WP Under-21 team for Saturday (v Bulls) is as follows:
15. Justin Geduld 14. JP Lewis 13. Johnny Kotze 12. Kyle Lombard 11. Lihleli Xoli 10. Robert du Preez 9. Jean Nel 8. Sikhumbuzo Notshe 7. Jacques Vermeulen 6. Eital Bredenkamp (captain) 5. Jan Uys 4. Sebastian Ferreira 3. John Meyer 2. Michael Willemse 1. Sti Sithole
Replacements: 16. Michael Kennedy 17. Deacon Chowles 18. Jurie van Vuuren 19. Carel du Preez 20. Tapiwa Tsomondo 21. SP Ferreira 22. Janco Gunter
Referee: Lesego ‘Pro’ Legoete