Van Zyl leads WP
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Lock Chris van Zyl will captain Western Province as they begin their Currie Cup campaign against the Free State Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Sunday.
Fullback Sarel Marais and hooker Ramone Samuels will both make their Western Province debut after being named in the starting line-up.
Marais will link up with wings Seabelo Senatla and Bjorn Basson in an exciting back three, with Dan Kriel and Michal Hazner in the midfield.
Kurt Coleman and Justin Phillips are the starting halfback pairing and will be backed up by Godlen Masimla and Brandon Thomson on the replacements bench.
In the loose trio Sikhumbuzo Notshe starts at the back of the scrum, with Johan du Toit and Kobus van Dyk on the flanks and Steph de Wit and Jaco Coetzee providing cover among the replacements.
In the second row JD Schickerling partners captain Van Zyl and in the front row props Wilco Louw and Alistair Vermaak start either side of Samuels, with Siyabonga Ntubeni set to make his comeback from injury off the replacements bench.
Western Province head coach John Dobson said that the challenge for his team will be to find some cohesion in their first game against the defending champions who have not lost a Currie Cup game since 2015.
"We know that it will be a massive challenge going up to Bloemfontein, but there is no question about the talent in this team.
"The players are all looking forward to starting this campaign with a real test of our mettle which we know we will get up there.
"Next week we will welcome back some more players, but I have no doubt this team has the talent to take on what is essentially their full Super Rugby team," he said.
Western Province: 15 Sarel Marais, 14 Bjorn Basson, 13 Michael Hazner, 12 Dan Kriel, 11 Seabelo Senatla, 10 Kurt Coleman, 9 Justin Phillips, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Johan du Toit, 6 Kobus van Dyk, 5 JD Shickerling, 4 Chris van Zy (captain), 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Ramone Samuels, 1 Alistair Vermaak.
Replacements: 16 Siyabonga Ntubeni, 17 Caylib Oosthuizen, 18 Frans van Wyk, 19 Steph de Wit, 20 Jaco Coetzee, 21 Godlen Masimla, 22 Brandon Thomson.
Date: Sunday, July 30
Venue: Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein
Kick-off: 14.30 (12.30 GMT)
Referee: AJ Jacobs
Assistant referees: Jaco Kotze, Griffin Colby
TMO: JJ Wagner with Lourens van der Merwe