Cape Town - Springbok captain Jean de Villiers will start for Western Province against the Pumas in Franschhoek on Saturday.
De Villiers has not travelled with the Boks to Australia and will instead be a part of the Western Province Currie Cup pre-season campaign over the next two weeks.
The 34-year-old is looking to regain full match fitness as he plots his way to the 2015 Rugby World Cup after recovering from the knee injury that kept him out of rugby for nearly eight months.
WP coach John Dobson confirmed that De Villiers would start at inside centre on Saturday.
“He’ll start the game, which is ahead of schedule. He was going to come off the bench and start next week against the Kings. But he’ll start this weekend because the World XV game went better than expected,” Dobson said after WP training on Monday.
“It’s amazing. He’s here. He says he hasn’t played a proper Western Province warm-up game for 12 years. The last time he played one was against Matthew Proudfoot (former WP forwards coach).
“It’s amazing to have the Springbok captain arriving at training and being as keen as mustard.”
De Villiers got through Monday’s training session unscathed and there was no obvious reaction from his knee to Saturday’s World XV game.
Dobson added that he was not concerned that De Villiers’ participation over the next two weeks would prove disruptive given the near certainty that he will not feature in this year’s Currie Cup campaign.
“I think if we were in tournament then we would have had a problem,” said Dobson.
“But it was one of those conversations where you think about what he’s done for Western Province rugby over the last 12 years and if we can help him then we will.”
The match at Drakenstein Correctional Centre kicks off on Saturday at 16:00.