Cape Town - The Western Province backline has been stripped bare following the departure of several players wanting to ply their trade abroad and others answering the call of the Springboks.
Local talent would be the primary source for Western Province, said coach Allister Coetzee in Cape Town on Wednesday while he would also be keeping an eye on the promotion/relegation play-offs between the Lions and the Kings.
"Of course we’re keeping an eye on the play-offs, because the players of the team that fails to make the grade, will be keen to play Super Rugby next season," said Coetzee.
"But it is important for the development of (talent) depth in this province that we give players a chance to develop and the Currie Cup offers that chance."
The backline trio Gio Aplon, Juan de Jongh, Jean de Villiers and Louis Schreuder would be absent for much of the season doing national duty while Bryan Habana, Joe Pietersen and Dewaldt Duvenage have left Newlands for greener pastures.
To make matters worse for Coetzee, Peter Grant and Damian de Allende were on the injured list at the start of the season.
"In terms of Currie Cup resources we don’t have to look outside our boundaries," Coetzee said.
"We are going to field a very young backline and we will have to develop a leadership group among them.
"There are potentially able leaders."
Coetzee said he was toying with the idea of playing winger Gerhard van den Heever in midfield to add much-needed experience.
The forwards had also been hard hit in the 25-player squad Coetzee had assembled before the opening Currie Cup match against the Blue Bulls in a fortnight’s time.
"I know what we’ve lost but I have no idea of who will be called up for Springbok duty and hence I have a 25-player group training, and many of them are newcomers," Coetzee said.
"It’s a way of rewarding players who have done well at Varsity Cup and Vodacom Cup levels."
On the injury front, hooker Tiaan Liebenberg returned to training although he would only be ready for action towards the end of next month.
Flank/locks Ryhardt Elstadt and Michael Rhodes were back in the camp while loose forward Schalk Burger had returned after a lengthy spell on the sidelines.
"Schalk is working out on his own and we need to take baby-steps with him," said Coetzee.
Western Province start their 2013 Currie Cup campaign next Saturday against the Blue Bulls at Newlands, in Cape Town.