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Province’s plan is to plunder physical Pumas


Western Province have now lost two Currie Cup games in as many matches, and there will be no room for complacency on Friday evening against the Pumas.

Labeeb Levy (skills coach) and John Dobson, head coach during the Stormers training session at Bellville HPC in Cape Town on 15 September 2020. Picture: Ryan Willkisky, BackpagePix

DESPITE being very thin at wing with Seabelo Senatla now also on the sidelines after sustaining an injury in their Currie Cup defeat against the Lions at the weekend, assistant coach Labeeb Levy isn’t too worried about how they’ll fill the position.

Province have now lost two Currie Cup games in as many matches, and as if that wasn’t enough of a negative, they also picked up a number of injuries at Ellis Park.

The two biggest ones are to tighthead prop Neetling Fouche (who was hospitalised with a concussion) and Senatla, while the other players who took knocks and received treatment – lock Salmaan Moerat, No 8 Juarno Augustus and hookers Bongi Mbonambi and Scarra Ntubeni – were all precautionary.

“There was only one concussion, that was Neethling Fouche, there weren’t any other concussions as such. Seabelo Senatla tore his MCL (knee ligament; grade one or two). He won’t need an operation, but we’re still waiting for the feedback from the medical team.

“Sergeal (Petersen) trained very well last week, he actually got the team award for best performance during training, so he’s a good option at wing. Tristan (Leyds) also did well when he came on. At tighthead, Sazi Sandi is one of the players we’re considering.”

There were a number of changes and rotational switches to the backline last week, with Damian Willemse shifting to fullback to accommodate Tim Swiel at 10 one of the biggest ones. Skills coach Levy added his thoughts on the move and how Willemse handled it.

“What was nice of Damian at 15 is how he embraced it – he could have sulked, but he’s been positive and he’s brought energy to training,” Levy said.

“As we all know, he’s an instinctive player, so I think he’s a good replacement for Boogie (Warrick Gelant) at the back in terms of bringing the flair and the X-factor. He also brings the kicking option. If he gets high balls sent his way, he’ll be brave enough to take them, and he can obviously counter. He’s embracing it.

“He’s so versatile – if you had to put him on the wing he’d do well, put him at centre, he’d do well. It’s just a matter of him settling down now and having fun.”

WP won’t have to be reminded to steer clear of complacency ahead of their game against the Pumas at Newlands.

A few weeks ago, during Super Rugby Unlocked, John Dobson’s side (playing as the Stormers) were lucky to secure a win after fighting back and scoring four tries in the last quarter to avoid being on the unenviable side of an upset. This week, there will be no room for smugness, Levy insisted.

“We have to get our team’s mindset right. They (Pumas) bring a lot of physicality and they kick very well. We are putting plans together to neutralise them and produce a better performance than we did the last time … unlike that smash and grab.

The match kicks off at 7pm at Newlands on Friday evening.

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