Cape Town - Springbok Juan de Jongh looks set to make a timely return to the Western Province midfield for Saturday’s Absa Currie Cup match against Griquas in Kimberley.
According to the supersport.com website, De Jongh was left out of the Bok squad that flew to Argentina on Sunday as national coach Heyneke Meyer is permitted to only take 26 players on tour.
It is understood that the players omitted from the group for the away leg will be permitted to play Currie Cup rugby, which is great news for WP as Pat Howard appears to be struggling with a light hamstring strain.
“Pat has a tight hamstring and he felt it again (during the match against the Cheetahs), so it was the right call to get him off the field before he fatigues and tears it,” said coach Allister Coetzee after his team’s come from behind 15-14 win over the Cheetahs at Newlands at the weekend.
Howard impressed in his debut starting appearance against the Bulls in the opening match and again showed glimpses of promise in a wet weather game that did not favour backline play this past weekend, but De Jongh, the hero of last year’s Currie Cup final win, has produced some great games on the hard Kimberley ground over the years and his will be a welcome return.
Griquas, after beating the Sharks in the opening match and then slipping up at Loftus, will be going all out to win their first home match of the season and WP, who have had some good and bad results in the diamond capital over the years, are expecting a tough game.
The other injury doubt for this week is flyhalf Gary van Aswegen, who took a knock to the shoulder against the Cheetahs.
Coetzee should be hoping he recovers as Van Aswegen may be an important cog in the Stormers backline in the next Super Rugby season so needs to gain as much experience as possible, but if he doesn’t, WP will have Demetri Catrakilis to fall back on.
Another star of that WP win in the Kings Park final last year, Catrakilis is back in the Cape on loan and will be available this week after sitting out the first fortnight with injury.