Injuries add to WP's worries
Joe Pietersen (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - Western Province's opening match in the 2012 Currie Cup competition has cost them the services of two first-choice players who will not be available for next week's clash against Griquas in Kimberley.
Hard on their 25-23 loss to the Sharks at Newlands comes the news that flyhalf Burton Francis has injured his knee and is hardly mobile. The former Blue Bulls and Golden Lions pivot will see a specialist on Monday.
Gary van Aswegen who replaced him midway through the second half in the Sharks clash is the likely replacement.
Fullback Joe Pietersen picked up a wrist injury and will be on the sidelines for a week. He is also Province's first-choice place-kicker and Van Aswegen looks the best bet to fill that role.
Substitute prop Deon Carstens suffered a broken nose and will be out for at least two weeks. His loss will be offset by the return of Steven Kitshoff who has recovered from a knee injury.
Flank Rynhardt Elstadt has been battling with a groin injury and he is in the frame to return, depending on how he fares with fitness tests over the next few days.
Eighthman Duane Vermeulen has recovered from his long-term knee injury and has been in training with full contact last week. Province coach Allister Coetzee feels that he's ready to return to action and will start out in the run-on XV rather than join the fray as a substitute.
"Duane's a real possibility of being right for next week. We will know more this week," said Coetzee. "It's better to have Duane starting out rather than finding out that there's a problem after he's come on as a substitute.
He'll probably be good for 40 minutes because he'll need game time to restore his match fitness."