Following the conclusion of the Currie Cup, DYLAN JACK pinpoints three takeaways from Western Province’s season with them finishing as semi-finalists.
A need to evolve beyond forward dominance
A pattern emerged during the Currie Cup, where Province would both dominate possession and territory thanks, at least in part, to the power of their forward pack.
However, they would often struggle to fully capitalise on this dominance, which was clear in their losses to a 14-man Vodacom Bulls team and the Sharks in the Currie Cup semi-final, both at Newlands.
There’s no question that Province have talent in their backline and granted, with a pack like that of Province, you are always going to use it as a weapon.
However, the next stage in Province’s growth as a team has to be ensuring that they capitalise on every entry into an opposition’s 22-metre area.
A decision needs to be made at flyhalf
Prior to the start of the season, Stormers and Province coach John Dobson was unequivocal about giving Damian Willemse the opportunity to grow as a flyhalf after the youngster had spent most of his teenage years doubling at fullback.
The decision looked like it was paying off as Willemse slowly started to settle and form a strong partnership with Springbok Warrick Gelant, who had joined from the Bulls during the break in the season.
However, soon after playing possibly his best game as a senior flyhalf in a 30-13 win over the Cheetahs at Newlands, Willemse was forced to move back to fullback after Gelant picked up a season-ending injury.
Tim Swiel then took over the flyhalf duties for most of the Currie Cup and while he was solid and reliable – notably kicking them into the playoffs with a last-minute penalty in Bloemfontein – Province lacked some cutting edge in the No 10 channel.
Going forward into the Rainbow Cup, Dobson will have to make a decision as to whether to continue backing Willemse at flyhalf, to continue with Swiel, or to blood one of their promising junior players.
Kitshoff is among the world’s best
Steven Kitshoff’s reputation as one of the best props in the world was only enhanced during the domestic season.
The ‘Spicy Plum’ was one of the few Province players to consistently maintain a level of excellent performances throughout the season, powering through the scrums and showing an incredible work rate.
Kitshoff underlined his value at the breakdown, as he was the only non-loose forward featuring among the top-five turnovers after the Currie Cup round-robin stage. He also made 40 ball carries to top the list with Frans Steyn and Willem Alberts.
Reports suggest that there is plenty of interest in Kitshoff’s services from French clubs, but Province will hope that they can convince one of their most prized assets to stay.
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