De Jongh to lead WP against Lions

Date published: September 29 2015

Fit-again inside centre Juan de Jongh returns to lead Western Province in Friday's Currie Cup clash with the Golden Lions in Johannesburg.

The Springbok midfielder has been out of action since suffering a knee injury against the Free State Cheetahs in mid-August and his return to fitness is a massive boost for the defending champions ahead of the 2015 play-offs.

De Jongh replaces Huw Jones, as the WP coaching staff wisely intend to control his game time upon his return to action.

In other changes to the backline that did duty against the Pumas last weekend, Cheslin Kolbe is set to return at full-back and Nic Groom is back in the number nine shirt.

Kolbe has been bracketed with Dillyn Leyds for now, with Kobus van Wyk on standby on the right wing (should Leyds move to full-back or not start at all), with head coach John Dobson expected to make a call on his back three before kick-off on Friday.

Up front, Chris Cloete is back in the number six jersey, Jean Kleyn comes in at lock and Steven Kitshoff returns at loosehead prop.

Oli Kebble, Jurie van Vuuren and Jones revert to the bench this week, having all started in the 50-19 romp over the Pumas at Newlands, with half-backs Godlen Masimla and Kurt Coleman the new faces on the bench this week.

Masimla replaces Jano Vermaak who has a slight groin niggle, whilst Coleman, having overcome his calf muscle injury, returns for Demetri Catrakilis, who has been released from his Western Province Rugby contract in order to join Top 14 club, Montpellier.

WP boss John Dobson expects a tough assignment against the table-topping Lions at Ellis Park.

"This match is a massive challenge – playing against the in-form and unbeaten Lions at altitude… it doesn't get any tougher!" he said.

"We had some very tough selection meetings this week," added Dobson.

"We're being very careful with guys like Dillyn, Cheslin and also Rynhardt Elstadt (in terms of their fitness and selection). Both Dillyn and Cheslin have small niggles, but we might not want to risk both of them with Kobus 100% fit.

"A player like Ali Vermaak can consider himself very unfortunate to miss out altogether, but we feel we have selected the best possible starting team, along with a powerful bench, to do the job for us this Friday."

Western Province: 15 Cheslin Kolbe/Dillyn Leyds, 14 Dillyn Leyds/Kobus van Wyk, 13 Johnny Kotze, 12 Juan de Jongh (c), 11 Seabelo Senatla, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 6 Chris Cloete, 5 Ruan Botha, 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Steven Kitshoff. 
Replacements: 16 Michael Willemse, 17 Oli Kebble, 18 Chris van Zyl, 19 Jurie van Vuuren, 20 Godlen Masimla, 21 Kurt Coleman, 22 Huw Jones.

Date: Friday, October 2
Venue: Ellis Park, Johannesburg
Kick-off: 18.00 local (16.00 GMT)
Referee: tbc
Assistant referees: tbc
TMO: tbc