Cape Town - Western Province won’t have forgotten that the last time they had their two fit Springboks, Bongi Mbonambi and Juan de Jongh, in their side was when they scored a good win over Griquas in Kimberley. And they know that both will have a key role to play in this week’s Currie Cup semi-final.
While regular Stormers captain Juan de Jongh, provided he has recovered from his contusion and is ready to play, will bring calmness as he is an experienced player who is an important leader in the team, hooker Mbonambi will be looked at to help improve a lineout that has creaked a few times too often this season.
WP have targeted the Blue Bulls lineout as one of the areas they must target if they are to have any chance of success. The home side in the Loftus showdown boast a big pack, but as young Province loose-forward Kobus van Dyk reminded the media this week, they won’t be able to settle into the momentum they thrive on if their possession is cut off at source.
“We are going to go hard for their ball in the lineouts. If we can do well to contest them then we can take away a lot of their attacking ball, and then we will have a good chance,” said Van Dyk.
There will need to be a strong focus on their own ball too, which is where Mbonambi, who played behind Springbok captain Adriaan Strauss during the home leg of the Rugby Championship, will come in. Van Dyk reckons Mbonambi’s experience at international level has equipped him to take on a strong leadership role with his provincial team.
“At the training sessions, Bongi has talked a lot and brought the guys together. He is really making an impact, particularly with his lineout throwing. He knows all the detail and has made a big difference since returning to the squad,” said 22 year old Van Dyk.
It has been a bit of a meteoric rise for Van Dyk, who has risen through the ranks on the back of an impressive run for Maties in the Varsity Cup earlier this year. He lists the narrow defeat to Pukke in the 2016 final of that tournament as the biggest game he has played so far, and a Currie Cup semi-final will be another step up for him.
“It has always been my dream to play for WP and so far it has gone well in my first season, but on Saturday I’d like it to go even better,” said the man who was chosen as WP’s most promising newcomer at forward at the recent union awards ceremony.
The WP team will be announced on Thursday and whether Van Dyk starts or plays off the bench may depend on the readiness of Sikhumbuzo Notshe, who was considered borderline ready to return to action at the start of the week.
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