Coetzee has tough call to make
Juan de Jongh (Gallo Images)
Cape Town – It’s going to be one of the toughest calls of the year at Western Province: To pick a centre pairing from Juan de Jongh, Jaque Fourie and Jean de Villiers.
However, coach Allister Coetzee may have no other option than to confront the selection poser before his team play their last Currie Cup league match against the Sharks at Newlands on October 9.
The contracted Springboks will rest until October 9, which means they will be available for the last league game, as well as a possible semifinal and final.
There are various factors that Coetzee will take into consideration when making the call. He may even postpone it for a while and rest a few key players should WP’s position on the log allow that.
However, the decision will have to be made at some point in the future, though the prospect does not appear to concern De Jongh ahead of Friday evening’s clash against the Pumas at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit.
“My focus is not on the future. I focus on one game at a time. The future and team selections are not in my hands. The only thing in my hands is to play good rugby every week,” said De Jongh.
Even if the unthinkable happens and the new Springbok star has to play off WP’s substitutes’ bench, he will give no less than his best.
“It does not matter. I put the team first. I will do my best, even if I don’t play and have to come off the bench.”
De Villiers and Fourie were the Springboks’ centre pairing in their last two tests against Australia, while De Jongh was an unused substitute on the bench.
Coetzee can consider using one of the three as a wing, while Fourie can also be picked at fullback.
These kind of problems sometimes also have a way of solving themselves – there is no guarantee that De Jongh and De Villiers will get through the next few weeks of Currie Cup rugby free of injuries.
De Jongh has had the privilege this year of combining with Fourie in the Super 14 and then with De Villiers at Test level and in the Currie Cup.
Province groomed an outstanding young talent in the process, with De Jongh equally adept at playing inside and outside centre.
“I’m very privileged – first it was Jaque and now Jean,” said De Jongh.
“For me it’s very special and I just try to learn every moment. The knowledge that I’m acquiring can help take me to the next level and improve me as a player.”
In the meantime the centre pairing of De Villiers and De Jongh is likely to give the WP backline a lot of strike power in coming weeks and should also help the team secure a semifinal at Newlands.
“It’s nice to be able to wear the blue and white hoops again. I will always run out with pride and passion for WP,” said De Jongh.
While it’s difficult to see how the Pumas will be able to live with WP, they command a healthy respect.
“The Pumas are a physical side and are playing good rugby at home. They beat the Blue Bulls and came close against the Lions,” said De Jongh.