Western Province head coach John Dobson says the decision to leave Herschel Jantjies out against the Lions is according to a pre-planned rotation of their scrumhalves. DYLAN JACK reports.
Jantjies has not been included in the 26-man squad which will travel up to Johannesburg to take on the Lions on Saturday evening.
Instead, it is Godlen Masimla who gets his first start of the domestic campaign, with Paul de Wet providing backup on the bench after sitting out this past weekend’s loss to the Vodacom Bulls.
Speaking to the media in an online briefing on Wednesday, Dobson explained that the change at scrumhalf was pre-planned and that Jantjies would return next week against the Pumas.
‘We have got three similar scrumhalves which is nice for us in terms of our game model,’ Dobson said. ‘I am completely aware that we haven’t been giving enough rugby to the latter two [Masimla and De Wet]. So it was pre-planned two weeks ago that Godlen and Paul would play this game. Paul and Herschel will play next week.
‘That rotation was result agnostic. We couldn’t go back on it even though we didn’t get the result we wanted against the Bulls. So, Herschel will have a rest this week. Godlen will start and Paul will be on the bench.’
Masimla will form a new halfback combination with Tim Swiel, who starts at flyhalf as Damian Willemse has had to be shifted to fullback after Warrick Gelant tore his knee ligament.
The two made a good impact off the bench against the Bulls and with Gelant expected to be out for at least the next six months, Swiel has a good opportunity to show his worth as a starting No 10.
‘It is not entirely haphazard,’ Dobson said. ‘Godlen and Tim have played two-and-a-half seasons together at U21 and Vodacom Cup. They actually know each other well. So we worked it a little bit around that.
‘Warrick is not going to be back for a long time and Herschel has played quite a bit with Tim this year, so we are going to have to work with that combination.
‘The rotation is not chop and change all the time,’ Dobson added. ‘We have gone clearly with Herschel so far this season, other than his issue with compassionate leave. But we have two really good scrumhalves. If Herschel does his ACL and we go into the PRO16 with guys with under 30 minutes in the Currie Cup, it is just irresponsible not to give these guys exposure.’
Dobson added that the changes are in line with one of the three goals the team has for the domestic season, which is to broaden their player base as much as they can before the end of 2021, when many senior players will be coming to the end of their contracts.
‘There are three things we are trying to balance in this tournament. Primarily and essentially is to try and be in the playoffs and get as far as we can in the competition. The second thing is to broaden our player base. As is well written, we have got lots of players coming off contract at the end of next year. We have to make sure we have a reserve stock that can take us forward whether guys get offers from overseas or injuries. We can’t just rely on the same guys.
‘Thirdly, we need to realise where we are going to be playing rugby in the future and that’s in the northern hemisphere. What has been pleasing for us is how we change our territory game and how our set piece has developed. There are other challenges we have got that we need to get right. We have maybe gone off plan once or twice, which cost us last weekend. When you are playing in northern-hemisphere conditions, you have to be absolutely rigid in your plan.’
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