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Fitness failing, Province falls on hard times

Western Province rugby has fallen on hard times, considering that head coach Allister Coetzee is wondering whether he’ll have a fully fit squad for the side’s Currie Cup outing against the Sharks in Durban on Saturday.

Last weekend’s defeat at the hands of the Cheetahs at Newlands has seen three more Province players join the side’s ever-growing injury list.

“Imagine what’s it like at the start of the week when your biggest concern is whether you’ll have 22 players fully fit for a match in a few days’ time,” said Coetzee.

“Nick Koster, our eighth-man, took a knock or two on his neck and the doctor is not too sure about him being ready for the match on Saturday.”

His absence would be a “massive setback”.

“His style of play is what we need most in a match against a team like the Sharks,” Coetzee said.

“Centre Johann Sadie has a muscular thigh injury and I doubt whether he can train in the next day or two.”

Coetzee said flank Tertius Daniller was also out for a while, struggling with an abscess.

“There are players coming back from injury but we’ll have to establish their fitness levels.”

Koster was stretchered off in the second-half of Province’s 34-20 defeat at Newlands on Saturday.

Province brought on hooker Deon Fourie as a replacement, but shuffled the pack and used him at flank instead.

The move worked well and Fourie was likely to be considered for that role again this week.

Flank Pieter Louw, prop JC Kritzinzer and fly-halves Isma-eel Dollie and Kurt Coleman were all back in training at Bellville on Monday, after injury-enforced lay-offs.

Coetzee’s selection poser this week would be at fly-half, whether or not to stick with Lionel Cronje, or to use Isma-eel Dollie or Kurt Coleman.

One area of concern, which Coetzee would tackle at this week’s training, would be the protection of the ball whenever the side is possession.

“We conceded 31 turn-overs on Saturday, and it came in various ways such as dropped passes spilling the ball in a tackle,” said Coetzee.

“On Saturday we were frustrated by the slow ball and it still puzzles me that Free State were penalised so often, yet the referee Stuart Berry didn’t issue yellow cards. It’s something that I would like to take up with Stuart Berry.” — Sapa

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