Strong Oceania presence for Province

There will be a decided Oceania presence in the Western Province backline when Matt Toomua and Sireli Naqelevuki run out at Newlands for Saturday’s Currie Cup derby against Boland.

A key feature of Province’s rise to the top of the Currie Cup log has been consistent selections over a priod of time. However, injuries and player management considerations could see a vastly changed run-on XV take on the Cavaliers this week.

Regular leftwing Gio Aplon picked up an ankle injury against Griquas last week and the bullocking Naqelevuki will take his place.

The former Australian schoolboys flyhalfToomua had an impressionable debut for the Province last week and he’ll slot at No. 10 in place of Peter Grant who will be rested.

Grant’s regular halfback partner Dewald Duvenhage will also enjoy a rare break to give Springbok Ricky Januarie a place in the starting XV.

Province coach Allister Coetzee is also likely to rest his centre ‘find’ Juan de Jongh and the Matie Paul Bosch could come into contention.

Coetzee wants to give his star backliners a chance to charge their batteries ahead of next week’s visit to the Lions’ den at Coca-Cola Park.

In the pack, tighthead prop Brok Harris and lock Anton van Zyl are also likely to enjoy time out. JC Kritzinger has fully recovered from his knee injury and could step into Harris’ No. 3 slot.

Springbok Andries Bekker will return to action after his Tri-Nations sojourn came to an abrupt end Down Under a few weeks ago and he’ll play a big role in Province’s run-in to the play-off round.

In recent years Boland have on occasion enjoyed upset wins over Province but that is not likely to happen this week. Boland have been cannon fodder for the opposition in their two recent matches when they collectively conceded a staggering 160 points (88-15, 72-16). After 12 matches this season Boland have conceded 599 points.

In a goodwill gesture Province have several squad players out on loan with their ‘country cousins’ and this should add some spice to the usually passionate derby encounters between the neighbouring provinces.

Initially the loan agreement stipulated that the players on loan could not do duty in the derby but coach Coetzee now feels his side will benefit from stronger opposition. The change will also help the players to clock up enough time in Boland jerseys to be eligible to play in the year-end promotion/relegation matches.

But with Province in fine form and playing with a pack that is dominating week in and week out there’s every chance of another runaway against Boland at Newlands on Saturday. — Sapa

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