Captain Juan de Jongh and Jean de Villiers will combine in the midfield for Western Province in a Currie Cup pre-season clash against the EP Kings on Saturday.
WP head coach John Dobson has picked a powerful squad for the warm-up game in Port Elizabeth after having selected a second-string side to face the Pumas last Saturday.
Besides the centre combination of De Jongh and De Villiers, physical flanker Rynhardt Elstadt will make his return from a leg injury that saw him miss most of the Vodacom Super Rugby season.
‘It's great to have Juan take charge and to welcome back Rynhardt Elstadt,’ Dobson said.
‘[Prop] JP Smith and [backs] Louis Schreuder, Johnny Kotze and Dillyn Leyds were not considered due to their niggles, which, fortunately, are not of a long-term nature, while [hooker] Mikey Willemse, as we know, picked up an injury last weekend, which will see him out for eight to 10 weeks.’
Oli Kebble, Bongi Mbonambi and Entienne Swanepoel will pack down in the front row, with Jean Kleyn and Ruan Botha forming an exciting second-row combination, while Springbok Nizaam Carr, WP's new vice-captain, returns at No 8.
Sikhumbuzo Notshe and Kobus van Wyk are the only players retained in the starting lineup from last weekend.
‘Our plan was always to play a lot of the guys who wore heavy loads in Super Rugby, and even in this game we will manage their game time,’ Dobson commented.
‘Look, it's a strong side and not far off our best available one and we want to see progress in the departments that we have been working on in the past few weeks.’
The WP squad is currently in Plettenberg Bay for a pre-season camp, and will open their Currie Cup campaign on 7 August against the winners of the Currie Cup qualifying tournament [either Griquas or the Leopards].
Photo: Gerhard Steenkamp/BackpagePix