Currie Cup - Round Seven Preview
WP and Lions hit by injury woes
August 20, 2009
Peter Grant is a major injury concern for WP ahead of their clash with the Lions at Newlands © Getty Images
The Currie Cup reaches round seven this weekend and perhaps surprisingly it's Griquas who still hold onto their impressive lead at the top of the log despite a narrow loss to the Bulls last week.
The Bulls get the weekend's action underway against the Leopards at Loftus Versfeld on Friday night. They will be favourites to secure a bonus point win that would take them level with the Griquas - for at least 24 hours.
Bulls coach Frans Ludeke has made a raft of changes for the clash in Pretoria. Burton Francis starts in the fly-half berth while flank Dewald Potgieter captains the team with Derick Kuün, the Bulls' regular captain, named amongst the replacements.
Akona Ndungane is back on the right wing following his extended injury lay-off and in other changes to the backline, Stephan Dippenaar partners Jaco Pretorius in the midfield.
Potgieter will play in a loose-trio alongside Pedrie Wannenburg and Deon Stegmann with Fudge Mabeta starting in the second row alongside Flip van der Merwe. Ludeke has also selected an entirely new front row, Frik Kirsten, Bandise Maku start with Dean Greyling anchoring the scrum.
The Leopards have given a start to Cecil Dumont, the younger brother of Sharks fly-half Monty, in a bid to recover from their 71-12 loss to the Cheetahs last week. Deon van Rensburg starts at centre after missing out against the Cheetahs, he'll be partnered by Basil de Doncker.
In the pack, Thabo Mamojele starts ahead of Bennie Adams, lock Rudi Mathee, who injured his ankle against the Cheetahs, is replaced by Anthonie Gronum, who joins Draad Linde in the second row. Regular captain Wilhelm Koch is still out injured and André Swanepoel retains the captaincy at openside flank.
Boosted by the news that two of their most promising young players, Robert Ebersohn and Coenie Oosthuizen, have signed contract extensions the Cheetahs will be confident of bagging five points when Boland travel to Bloemfontein on Saturday.
The Cheetahs got their campaign off to a dreadful start, losing their opening four games but have since recorded wins over the Bulls and the Leopards and should make it three wins from three on Saturday.
In a big loss, flank Francois Uys has been ruled out of rugby for six months after tearing a cruciate ligament in training earlier this week. His place will be taken by U21 player Chris Dry.
Ashley Johnson comes onto the bench as replacement hooker and should get a run as coach Naka Drotske thinks long-term with the incumbent Adriaan Strauss in talks with Irish club Leinster over a possible move.
In the only other changes after the massacre of the Leopards last week, Philip Snyman starts at outside centre and David de Villiers has recovered from a bout of flu to start at lock.
Boland have yet to name their team but will be hopeful of an upset to lift them off the bottom of the table.
Griquas continue to surprise and ran the Bulls close last week, on Saturday they travel to Durban to face the Sharks as first take on second.
The Sharks coach John Plumtree has been beset with injury problems and while he has named his team for the clash against Griquas there are still a number of players that have been bracketed and will face late fitness tests.
The good news though is that captain Johann Muller does return after sustaining a broken arm in the opening round of the competition. He takes a spot on the bench as he's eased back into action but Rory Kockott will have to pass a late fitness test, although if successful he'll be on the bench as Charl McLeod starts in the No. 9 jersey.
Juan Martin Hernandez is suffering from an ankle injury and misses out on selection which means that Monty Dumond retains the fly-half jersey. Odwa Ndungane and Ryan Kankowski have linked up with the Springboks and their places are filled by Chris Jordaan and Keegan Daniel respectively while Waylon Murray gets his first start of the season ahead of the struggling Riaan Swanepoel. Deon Carstens or Patric Cilliers will start at loosehead, that spot is also the subject of a late fitness test.
In other changes to the bench Justin Downey is loose-forward cover while the U21 utility back Patrick Lambie wears jersey No. 22.
The Griquas front row has been strengthened by the return of Albertus Buckle who's been ill of late and will be looking to get back to winning ways after their narrow loss to the Blue Bulls last week.
In the final game of the round, Western Province travel to Ellis Park to play the Lions with injury concerns in both camps.
For Allister Coetzee's Western Province team there's a major injury doubt over fly-half Peter Grant who's been suffering from a back injury - it's already a troublesome position for WP as Grant has been standing in for the injured Willem de Waal and the latest setback adds to Coetzee's woes. If Grant isn't able to play then his spot will be taken by the multi-talented scrum-half Conrad Hoffmann.
Luke Watson returns to captain Province from the back of the scrum while Anton van Zyl is drafted into the second row to replace Chris Jack. Van Zyl's knowledge of the Lions outfit should come in handy as he comes up against his former team-mates for the first time.
The Lions have also been dealt a large blow as captain Cobus Grobbelaar and Willem Alberts are both ruled out through injury. Grobbelaar has hurt his shoulder and Alberts misses out with an Achilles injury.
Scrum-half Jano Vermaak leads the Lions in Grobbelaar's absence, Todd Clever replaces Alberts, Derick Minnie replaces Grobbelaar and Johan Van Deventer moves to the bench
"Here is the line-up I believe will take to the field on Saturday, let the abuse commence." Tom Hamilton has a punt at the Lions' starting XV for the first Test in his latest Tour Diary
"At full-time I could not see the field for people dancing in front of me." Tom Hamilton reflects on the Lions' defeat at the hands of the Brumbies in Canberra
To coincide with the Lions' tour of Australia, and in association with Dove Men+Care, we are asking you to vote for the greatest Lions moments of the professional era
"He's full of empathy...he calms the water...he's the Brumbies' saviour," was how a taxi driver in Canberra described Jake White." Tom Hamilton files his latest Tour Diary