Third WP Bok breaks down
Springbok captain Jean de Villiers has become the third Western Province international this week to be ruled out of their Currie Cup semifinal.
Springbok captain Jean de Villiers has become the third Western Province international this week to be ruled out of their Currie Cup semifinal encounter with the Golden Lions on Saturday.
De Villiers, who is struggling with a hamstring injury, will miss the trip to Johannesburg to join the defending champions.
He joins fellow Boks Andries Bekker (toe) and Tiaan Liebenberg (back) on the sidelines.
Flank and stand-in captain Deon Fourie admitted it is disappointing to lose players of that quality.
"It's not ideal but it's happened to us many times this year, so it's not strange to us," Fourie said.
WP head coach Allister Coetzee made four changes to the side that defeated the Free State Cheetahs last weekend.
Lock De Kock Steenkamp, hooker Siyabonga Ntubeni and inside centre Marcel Brache come in for the injured Bok trio.
"Fortunately De Kock Steenkamp, Scarra Ntubeni and Marcel aren't strangers to our systems," said Coetzee.
"They've always played well when given a chance and now they have a chance to start again."
The final change to the WP line-up sees Gio Aplon take over at fullback from Joe Pietersen, the latter dropping down to the bench where he is joined by Deon Carstens, Wilhelm van der Sluys and Damian de Allende who come into the matchday 22 this week.
Coetzee said that the selection of Aplon at fullback was a 'horses for courses' decision.
"Gio played at fullback for us before he got injured, and it is completely the way we want to play that suits Gio to start this weekend, specifically for the Lions in what we see and what we expect," he said.
Coetzee explained that although losing three quality players is a major setback, he is confident that the senior players in the squad will provide enough support for Fourie this weekend.
"A setback is a setback and we dealt with setbacks earlier in the week. It doesn't get easier when you lose the experience of Jean and a captain, but Deon Fourie has led the side to a situation where we can play play-offs.
"He is probably happy with the leadership around him - Bryan Habana is still there, Duane Vermeulen is still there in the pack, Juan de Jongh, Gio Aplon and Joe Pietersen are experienced players so from that point of view I am still very much happy with the leadership in the team.
Looking ahead to Saturday, and facing the defending champion Lions on their own turf, Coetzee added: "They are the champions and a few players who did not play against the Bulls are returning from injury. They'll be even stronger (come this Saturday)."
Western Province: 15 Gio Aplon, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Marcel Brache, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Don Armand, 6 Deon Fourie (captain), 5 De Kock Steenkamp, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Siyabonga Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Deon Carstens, 17 Brok Harris, 18 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 19 Jebb Sinclair, 20 Louis Schreuder, 21 Damian de Allende, 22 Joe Pietersen.
Date: Saturday, October 20
Venue: Coca-Cola Park, Johannesburg
Kick-off: 19.00 (18.00 GMT)
Referee: Marius Jonker
Assistant referees: Sindile Mayende, Stefan Breytenbach
TMO: Johann Meuwesen