Cape Town - It is shaping up to be a big season for Western Province's Rynhardt Elstadt.
The openside flank suffered a devastating injury in February on Super Rugby duty for the Stormers when he broke his fibula in a 27-16 win over the Blues at Newlands and that was enough to rule him out for the remainder the season.
But now, with Western Province currently missing a number of their Springbok forwards, Elstadt has suddenly become a crucial component in coach John Dobson’s Currie Cup ambitions.
WP travel to Griquas on Friday for their tournament opener and Dobson revealed on Monday that Elstadt would not only be a key figure in that match but throughout the season.
"It's a formative pack. Nine guys come out of Super Rugby and nine of them are lost... all world class forwards," said Dobson of his new-look pack.
"So when you have a guy with five Super Rugby campaigns (Elstadt)... unquestionably the hardest man in the pack with a massive engine ... we're looking for him to fire the pack up.
"He's in charge of our defence and he's very important."
Elstadt is aware of the responsibility that comes with such expectation, but is also focused on his own recovery from what has been a five-month injury layoff.
"I've been off for quite a long time. It takes a lot of hard work to get back into it... to get on the form where I used to be," said the 25-year-old.
"My first job now is that I'm in the Currie Cup set-up and it's my union... they pay my salary. I'd love to bring another Currie Cup home like last year and then maybe next year knock on the door if there's space and put some pressure on the international guys."
Friday’s match kicks off at 15:30.
15. Cheslin Kolbe, 14. Dillyn Leyds, 13.
Juan de Jongh (captain), 12. Jaco Taute, 11. Seabelo Senatla, 10. Demetri
Catrakilis, 9. Nic Groom, 8. Nizaam Carr, 7. Sikhumbuzo Notshe,
6. Rynhardt Elstadt, 5. Ruan Botha, 4. Jean Kleyn, 3. Wilco Louw, 2. Bongi
Mbonambi, 1. Oli Kebble
Substitutes (from): 16. Marius Fourie, 17.
Alistair Vermaak, 18. Chris van Zyl, 19. Chris Cloete, 20. Jano Vermaak, 21.
Kurt Coleman, 22. Johnny Kotze, 23. Charlie van Jaarsveld