Planet Rugby

WP skipper in doubt for final

21st October 2013 15:06


Deon Fourie WP v Sharks 2012 CC Final

Injury concern: Deon Fourie

Western Province are sweating over the fitness of captain Deon Fourie ahead of Saturday's Currie Cup Final against the Sharks.

Western Province coach Allister Coetzee confirmed on Monday that Fourie and lock De Kock Steenkamp were injury concerns ahead of the showdown at Newlands but he was optimistic about Springbok centre Juan de Jongh's hamstring niggle.

"There are two players I am a bit concerned about, Deon being the one I am most concerned about," said Coetzee at the team's Bellville training ground on Monday.

"The doctor will see two players today, one of them being Deon, who suffered a neck muscle spasm. We are going to have to look at it, and we will decide at a meeting later what we will do should Deon be ruled out of the match against the Sharks.

"De Kock is a lesser concern, he just has a few bumps and bruises that are a legacy of the tough rugby he has been playing lately. I am sure he will be okay."

"We will get a report on Juan's hamstring but I think he'll be fit for Saturday, and De Kock just needs some rest because he's had a tough season."

Schalk Burger is likely to start if Fourie is unable to play.

"Would like to think Schalk can start a game if needed, and we will look at that option, but I think the balance we have at the moment is spot on," added Coetzee.

"Schalk coming on later in the match and adding his experience has counted a lot in our recent matches. I would play Schalk if he was ready to play for 60 minutes, but I am not sure if that is the case.

"Our other option is to keep Schalk on the bench and move Siya Kolisi to number six in Deon's place should he not make it, with Rynhardt Elstadt coming into the side as the blindside flanker."

The Sharks' kicking game is a major factor to be considered when Western Province decide on a game plan for Saturday's final.

"I watched the Sharks play the Cheetahs on Saturday and not much has changed in the way they have been playing in recent weeks," said Coetze.

"They use a kicking game to suffocate their opponents as well put pressure on them. Often opponents respond with poor kicks back and, with Patrick Lambie in their mix, the Sharks are better off (than us) in the kicking department."

Coetzee and his assistant Robbie Fleck both felt fly-half Lambie was a source of great inspiration for the Sharks as he had the ability to bring out the best from the players around him.

"We saw on Saturday when the Sharks were off to a slow start how Lambie ignited their resurgence towards the end of the first half," Fleck said.

"He looks very comfortable in his position and players feed off him.

"His tactical kicks were really classy and when last we played against him, he often managed to get behind our back three so he is someone we need to watch on Saturday."

In a repeat of last year's final, the defending champions would not be taking anything for granted, Coetzee said.

"We regard this game as just another game, and we've experienced such games as this in the past. We will build on that experience," he said.

"There's no need to change our focus because we have not won anything yet. We need to make sure that every player knows the detail of the plan."

WP forwards coach Matt Proudfoot said he was pleased with the way his pack dealt with the early scrum setbacks against the Golden Lions in the weekend's 33-16 semi-final encounter.

"We were disappointed with the early scrums but it was really pleasing that the guys sorted it out rather than wait for advice from me," Proudfoot said.

"We are preparing to face the Sharks' Springbok front row and it is important how we react, rather than feel the pressure and go into a tailspin.

"The way the (scrum) rules are now, you have to be good at every scrum."

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