Springbok lock Eben Etzebeth will wear the Western Province No 4 jersey in their opening Currie Cup match against the EP Kings in Port Elizabeth on Friday.
Etzebeth will play his first match of the year after being released from the Springbok squad, and will get some much-needed time on the park ahead of the Rugby Championship. Fellow Springbok Frans Malherbe will feature off the bench, and Western Province coach Allister Coetzee is pleased to have both available for his side's opening match.
'It's great to have them back. It's to their benefit and to the province's benefit that they get some game time,' said Coetzee. 'Both of them have been involved in our preparations for the Currie Cup so they'll fit right in.'
The match-day squad has eight Currie Cup debutants, split evenly between the bench and the starting XV. Talented wingers Kobus van Wyk and Seabelo Senatla will form an exciting back three alongside Cheslin Kolbe.
New captain Juan de Jongh will start outside Michael van der Spuy, while Demetri Catrakilis will get his chance at flyhalf in the absence of Kurt Coleman.
Up front, Etzebeth lines up next to Argentinian international Manuel Carizza in a formidable second row.
The match will announce the return of Currie Cup Premier Division rugby to Port Elizabeth and Coetzee says his side won't be underestimating their opponents.
'It's going to be a hostile crowd. There is a lot of positivity in Port Elizabeth and it's going to be a tough challenge for us. We're in for one hell of a game.'
Western Province – 15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Michael van der Spuy, 11 Seabelo Senatla, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Michael Rhodes, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Manuel Carizza, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Pat Cilliers, 2 Tiaan Liebenberg, 1 Alistair Vermaak.
Subs: 16 Stephan Coetzee, 17 Frans Malherbe, 18 Jean Kleyn, 19 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 20 Louis Schreuder, 21 Robert du Preez, 22 Pat Howard.
Photo: Barry Aldworth/BackpagePix