Vodacom Cup star Jean-Luc du Plessis back from injury and will wear the No.10 jersey for the DHL Western Province Under-21 team in Saturday’s Absa Provincial Under-21 clash against the Lions at City Park (kick-off 16h00).
In other changes to the DHL WP Under-21 line-up this week, fullback Grant Hermanus also returns from injury (in what will also be his first game of the season), whilst EW Viljoen returns at outside centre after featuring at senior level last week.
Up front, meanwhile, coach Robbie Fleck has elevated Christo van der Merwe to the starting team at flank, with Luke van der Smit dropping to the bench, whilst Chad Solomon returns at hooker after featuring for the senior team over the past fortnight.
Fleck told the www.wprugby.com website: “It’s great to welcome back Chad, Jean-Luc, EW and Grant – all of whom are experienced players – ahead of a big game such as this one (against the Lions).
“The Lions are the form team of the competition, but they’re an experienced side having been together for about two/three years now, since their Under-19 days and even using the core of this team to get them to the semifinals of the Vodacom Cup – which is a great achievement in itself.
“I was very happy with our second-half showing against the Kings – I could see the players get more confident as the match went on. I would like my guys to build on that performance – and all the positives that came with it – when we go up against the log leading Lions.”
Star inside centre Dan du Plessis was a late withdrawal from the matchday 22 for this week with a thigh injury, but Fleck has welcomed the return of flyhalf/fullback Ryno Eksteen, who has been named on the bench after a frustrating time with injuries.
“Like Chad, Jean-Luc, EW and Grant, Ryno is an experienced campaigner and has already played senior rugby – they all bring experience and energy to this team,” said the DHL WP Under-21 coach.
“Dan’s injury is unfortunate, as I was keen to see the 9-10-12 axis of Justin Phillips, Jean-Luc and Dan operate, but now Jarryd Sage gets another deserved start at No.12.
“We’ve had a better injury run this week, so now let’s just hope the weather plays its part too as we’ve played in some tough conditions thus far in 2015… the good weather would certainly suit our style of play against these in-form Lions.”
* Entry on Saturday at City Park is just R10 (for adults and kids). City Park is based on the corner of Thornton and Lawson Roads in Crawford – easily accessible from the M5 and N2 freeways.
The DHL WP Under-21 team for Saturday (v Lions, home) is as follows:
15. Grant Hermanus
14. Khanyo Ngcukana
13. EW Viljoen
12. Jarryd Sage
11. Leolin Zas
10. Jean-Luc du Plessis (vice-captain)
9. Justin Phillips
8. Rikus Bothma (captain)
7. Christo van der Merwe
6. Luke Stringer
5. David Ribbans
4. Johannes Momsen
3. Frans van Wyk
2. Chad Solomon
1. Wesley Adonis
16. Martin Wipplinger
17. Liam Hendricks
18. Devon Nash
19. Luke van der Smit
20. SP Ferreira
21. Ryno Eksteen
22. Sibahle Maxwane
Referee: Stephan Geldenhuys