Vermeulen Set For Return
Western Province head coach Allister Coetzee has made six changes ahead of Saturday's Currie Cup meeting with Griquas in Kimberley.
Most of the changes have been brought about by injuries - and one is positional - but the return of No.8 Duane Vermeulen is the big news from Cape Town this week.
Vermeulen has been missing since April because of a knee injury and his return sees Jebb Sinclair drop to the bench - in one of the six changes from the side that started in the 23-25 defeat to the Sharks last Saturday.
Coetzee said that Vermeulen will definitely not play in the second half but expressed relief at seeing the powerful loose forward out on the park again.
"We would like Duane to fulfill a similar role to what he has in the past at No.8 - making sure we have got a good base at the scrum and help our line-out contesting.
"Obviously he won't play a full 80 minutes but it is just great to have him back in the team. We will look at giving him no more than a half, more than that could be pushing it so he will get between 30 and 40 minutes," he said.
Nine players made their Currie Cup debuts for WP last week, with just four new players named this week - left-wing Ederies Arendse and flyhalf Kurt Coleman and the two unused replacements from last week, lock Wilhelm van der Sluys and centre/wing Damian de Allende.
There is also a new halfback pairing in the shape of Demetri Catrakilis (flyhalf) and Louis Schreuder (scrumhalf), with the former replacing the injured Burton Francis and the latter rotating with Dewaldt Duvenage.
Duvenage, in fact, gets a total break this week - after a tough playing schedule in 2012 - with Vodacom Cup winner Nic Groom providing scrumhalf cover from the bench.
"Dewaldt has played 18 gaems on the trot for us and I think it is time to give him a bit of a break. I think that is one of the few positions that you can afford to rotate because we have got a bit of depth at scrumhalf," said Coetzee.
The Western Province coach said that with Francis and Pietersen sidelined Catrakilis' steady boot will be key against Griquas.
"If you look at the team there is no Joe Pietersen who can kick for goal and I think Demetri is quite a prolific goal-kicker and obviously he played there [flyhalf] last year," he said.
Coetzee explained that fit-again Gary van Aswegen will play at least two club games for Maties to get him up to speed before giving him an opportunity in the Currie Cup.
"I just think that at this point in time Gary [Van Aswegen] needs a bit of game-time, he definitely needs to play a bit of club rugby and he will be playing for Maties just to make sure the match sharpness is there," he said.
In a final change to the starting XV, loosehead prop Steven Kitshoff has recovered fully from the knee injury which kept him out of last week's Sharks match.
"Griquas are at least 20 percent better in Kimberley - it will be a tough game," warned Coetzee.
"In the past we've had to work very hard for points up there and I don't expect it to be much different this week. It's going to be a tough game... we're under no illusions."
Western Province: 15 Gio Aplon, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 JP du Plessis, 12 Marcel Brache, 11 Ederies Arendse, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Tyrone Holmes, 6 Deon Fourie (captain), 5 De Kock Steenkamp, 4 Don Armand, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Tiaan Liebenberg, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Siyabonga Ntubeni, 17 Brok Harris, 18 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 19 Jebb Sinclair, 20 Nic Groom, 21 Kurt Coleman, 22 Damian de Allende.