Western Province coach John Dobson says Siya Kolisi has ‘added a sense of security and confidence’ to the team ahead of Friday’s clash with the Pumas.
In light of the importance of the fixture, which is being viewed as a must-win by the 2018 Currie Cup runners-up, Dobson will be glad to have Springbok captain Siya Kolisi back after his recovery from a knee injury.
‘Siya has added a sense of security and confidence to the team, after our confidence was low following the two defeats,’ Dobson commented at Wednesday’s team announcement.
‘He’s a great professional who contributes well at training. His emotional buy-in has been really impressive and he’s keen to win on Friday.’
Province are currently fourth on the Currie Cup log, having suffered two defeats and picked up just a solitary win over the Vodacom Blue Bulls.
Dobson said that the team have learned valuable lessons from their defeat by the Lions at Newlands before their bye last weekend.
‘The team was criticised for not taking penalty chances in that game so the key for us is to make other teams chase us by building scoreboard pressure. The Pumas are playing an attractive brand of rugby, so we will look to put their skills under pressure.’
Instead of converting a very kickable penalty chance, a decision to set a scrum close to the Lions try line and push for a penalty try backfired, after which the Johannesburg side came back from eight points down with minutes remaining to claim a 30-28 victory.
With only two matches left against Griquas in Kimberley and the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein, Dobson believes the team can’t afford another slip-up in Friday’s encounter. It’s a match that could see a potential debut off the bench for flanker Nama Xaba.
‘We’ve been trying to incorporate Nama into the squad for about two years now but injuries have prevented that,’ Dobson said. ‘He was superb in the Stormers pre-season friendlies. He’s someone who will be part of our plans in the next few years so we’ll back him.’
Western Province – 15 Dillyn Leyds, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Ruhan Nel, 12 Dan Kriel, 11 Seabelo Senatla, 10 Josh Stander, 9 Justin Phillips, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Ernst van Rhyn, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 JD Schickerling, 4 Chris van Zyl (c), 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Corne Fourie.
Subs: 16 Chad Solomon, 17 Kwenzo Blose, 18 Neethling Fouche, 19 Salmaan Moerat, 20 Nama Xaba, 21 Godlen Masimla, 22 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 23 Edwill van der Merwe.
Photo: Gallo Images