Cape Town - Western Province coach John Dobson has named his team for their Currie Cup clash against the Golden Lions in Johannesburg on Friday (18:00 kick-off).
Fit-again centre Juan de Jongh will start in the No 12 jersey and resume the captaincy duties.
De Jongh has been out of action since suffering a knee injury against the Free State Cheetahs in mid-August and his return to fitness is a massive boost for the defending champions ahead of the 2015 playoffs.
De Jongh will start at inside centre ahead of Huw Jones, as the WP coaching staff wisely intend to control his game time upon his return to action.
In other changes to the WP line-up from the side that did duty against the Pumas last weekend, Cheslin Kolbe returns at fullback, Nic Groom is back in the No 9 shirt, Chris Cloete is back in the No 6 jersey, Jean Kleyn is back at lock and Steven Kitshoff returns at loosehead prop.
Kolbe has been bracketed with Dillyn Leyds for now, with Kobus van Wyk on standby on the right-wing (should Leyds move to fullback or not start at all), with head coach John Dobson expected to make a call on his back three before kick-off on Friday.
Oli Kebble, Jurie van Vuuren and Jones revert to the bench this week, having all started in the 50-19 romp over the Pumas at Newlands, with halfbacks Godlen Masimla and Kurt Coleman the new faces on the bench this week.
Masimla replaces Jano Vermaak who has a slight groin niggle, whilst Coleman, having overcome his calf muscle injury, returns for Demetri Catrakilis, who has been released from his Western Province Rugby contract in order to join French Top 14 club, Montpellier.
“This match is a massive challenge - playing against the in-form and unbeaten Lions at altitude… it doesn’t get any tougher! Dobson told the WP Rugby website.
“We’re very happy to have Juan back. Medically, he has 40 minutes in him and we intend to control his game time, which is one of the reasons why we have decided to start with him. Like I said earlier in the week, he is our team leader and everyone looks up to him, so his leadership and experience are also big reasons as to why he is starting.
“We had some very tough selection meetings this week,” added Dobson.
“A player like Ali Vermaak can consider himself very unfortunate to miss out altogether, but we feel we have selected the best possible starting team, along with a powerful bench, to do the job for us this Friday.
“We’re being very careful with guys like Dillyn, Cheslin and also Rynhardt (in terms of their fitness and selection). Both Dillyn and Cheslin have small niggles, but we might not want to risk both of them with Kobus 100% fit.”
15. Cheslin Kolbe/Dillyn Leyds, 14. Dillyn Leyds/Kobus van Wyk, 13. Johnny Kotze, 12. Juan de Jongh (captain), 11. Seabelo Senatla, 10. Robert du Preez, 9. Nic Groom, 8. Nizaam Carr, 7. Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 6. Chris Cloete, 5. Ruan Botha, 4. Jean Kleyn, 3. Wilco Louw, 2. Bongi Mbonambi, 1. Steven Kitshoff
Substitutes: 16. Michael Willemse, 17. Oli Kebble, 18. Chris van Zyl, 19. Jurie van Vuuren, 20. Godlen Masimla, 21. Kurt Coleman, 22. Huw Jones