It will take all of Juan de Jongh’s experience to help reestablish Western Province as a force to be reckoned with in the Currie Cup, reports DEVIN HERMANUS.
The 34-time winners are second from the bottom of the log having won just one game this season, and host the unbeaten Free State Cheetahs on Friday at Cape Town Stadium.
WP lost 24-17 to the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on 16 March, and the Capetonians suffered a 45-32 defeat by the Vodacom Bulls at Loftus Versfeld on Wednesday.
De Jongh, who lifted the Currie Cup at Newlands in 2014, made his return from a long-term injury against the Bulls.
Speaking ahead of Friday’s clash, the 19-time-capped Springbok centre said: “The Cheetahs are not in the top two for nothing and it’s a massive opportunity for us. Our focus is about getting things right.
“I’ve been out for a couple of months, and it’s awesome being back, and especially important to be back playing with a lot of the youngsters. I’ve been around and learned a lot of things, and I’ve played internationally with plenty of household names.
“I want to bring that information and experience back to the youngsters, not to just be successful now but see that it becomes a part of that culture – I don’t want to take all that knowledge to the grave!”
WP backline coach Nazeem Adams added: “It is fantastic having Jubba back … he was out for a long time and didn’t want to come off [against the Bulls]!”
Jerome Paarwater will name his team on Thursday, and could benefit from selecting one or two Stormers players – who have a bye this week in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship – for some game time against the Cheetahs.
Adams, though, says WP are “quite happy with the continuity and don’t think a lot of URC players – if any – are coming down”.
WP had three players yellow-carded in Pretoria on Wednesday, yet arguably the biggest moment of controversy was when Bulls hooker Bismarck du Plessis was cited and then suspended for throwing a punch.
The only footage of the incident was not clear enough for the match officials to make a definitive call on it, but Du Plessis copped a three-week suspension on the eve of Saturday’s north-south derby in Cape Town.
On his view of the incident and WP’s ill-discipline, De Jongh responded: “The touch judge did flag it, and it went up to the TMO, I don’t know why SuperSport never had the footage…
“We saw the punch and no decision was taken. Don’t know why we are getting punished [and the Bulls aren’t] on the field.”