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No pressure on Province colts

Thu, 08 Aug 2013 17:17
Chelsin-kolbe630 Cheslin-kolbe-wp2 Pat-howard-wp
The big positive about this team is the continuity
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Western Province coach Allister Coetzee is intent on giving his young stars the best chance to shine by bringing them through in a settled environment.

In recent years the Currie Cup has provided the opportunity for promising young players to gain vital experience before going on to make an impact in Super Rugby, and this season is no different with a host of fresh faces in each team.

Players such as Siya Kolisi, Johan Goosen, Pat Lambie, Elton Jantjies and Marcell Coetzee all made their mark in the Currie Cup before impressing in Super Rugby and then going on to play for the Springboks, so the beginning of the season brings with it an air of excitement as there are undoubtedly a few new gems waiting to be discovered.

Coetzee has acknowledged the importance of exposing talented young players in the Currie Cup, but he was at pains to point out that they will not be expected to work miracles at this early stage of their careers.

"This competition is about bringing through the young players and making sure that come Super Rugby next year we have given more players the opportunity to play first class rugby.

"With the creating of depth there will be a few things that you have worked on in the Currie Cup to make sure that you improve your game to be ready for Super Rugby next year.

"Our focus still is to do well in the Currie Cup, by which I mean winning it again obviously, and to bring young players through," he explained.

Three exciting young players in Cheslin Kolbe, Gerbrandt Grobler and Pat Howard will make their first starts for Western Province this weekend, but Coetzee's team is still far more experienced than the Blue Bulls team that they will face at Newlands.

The Western Province coach was quick to warn against expecting too much from the likes of Sa Under-20 stars Howard and Kolbe who will need the support of the senior players around them if they are to make the step up to the next level.

"I want to say right from the start that you shouldn't have too much expectation about players like Cheslin Kolbe.

"Give the youngster an opportunity, this is not SA Under-20 and U20 rugby. He is still a youngster, this is Currie Cup, give him an opportunity to grow at this level," he said.

Both Kolbe and Howard will be put at ease by the presence of seasoned Springbok Gio Aplon at fullback, and Coetzee is happy for them to learn their trade from such an experienced player.

"Pat Howard is quick, big and strong. Cheslin Kolbe has played on the wing before and it you look at Gio [Aplon] he played the last Super Rugby game at fullback in the absence of Joe Pietersen so it makes sense," he said.

The only change to the forward pack that finished Super Rugby is the inclusion of Grobler in place of Eben Etzebeth, and Coetzee is hoping that the settled environment will give the young player the ideal opportunity to flourish.

"I think the big positive about this team is the continuity that we are keeping. From the pack I think it is only Eben Etzebeth that is not there.

"But that doesn't necessarily mean that you have got the winning combination or gives confidence because it is a completely new competition with completely new motivation," he warned.

By Michael de Vries

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