Johannesburg - A groin injury will prevent electrifying Blitzbok Seabelo Senatla from playing for Western Province in the Currie Cup but that does not prevent coach John Dobson from being spoilt for choice as he considers his options for Saturday’s crucial showdown with the Golden Lions.
The Emirates Airlines Park clash between the two form teams in the Currie Cup is looming as a possible league final for both sides, with the Sharks being the only other team that looks likely to challenge them for the top spot position that will pave the way for a potential home final, according to supersport.com website.
After two good wins against the Free State Cheetahs and the Pumas respectively, Dobson can’t point to too many areas where players haven’t delivered. And with players coming back into the system from injury, particularly at lock and out wide, some tricky decisions will have to be made before the trip to Johannesburg.
WP as a union have second row depth that should make them the envy of just about every franchise or union in the southern hemisphere. Eben Etzebeth and Pieter-Steph du Toit are both with the Springboks but Province can call on the services of their experienced captain Chris van Zyl, age-group stars Salmaan Moerat and Ersnt van Rhyn, as well as the prodigiously talented and influential JD Schickerling. Don't forget either that the currently injured Cobus Wiese is equally adept at lock as he is on the flank.
Moerat was injured in the first game of the season against the Cheetahs but has returned to full fitness, as has Van Zyl, who missed the opening game but then played off the bench in Nelspruit. Schickerling was the star forward in last year’s Currie Cup and he locked the scrum with Van Zyl in the final against the Sharks, and you’d expect those two to be together for the Lions game.
However, it is far from an easy decision given Moerat’s potential - he was in Rassie Erasmus’ Springbok training squad earlier in the season - and Van Rhyn has been excellent in the two matches he has played.
It is a similar situation out wide. Sergeal Petersen was outstanding in his first start for his new province against the Pumas, where WP won 56-27, and Ruhan Nel has made a seamless transition from Sevens to his role as an outside centre. But JJ Engelbrecht, who has several Springbok caps to his name, sat out in Nelspruit, while SP Marais, the team’s goalkicker and a real factor at fullback, played on the wing in that game and did well. Dillyn Leyds can dovetail between fullback and wing and can even play flyhalf if needed.
There is also Craig Barry to add to the options at wing, and like several of the other players, he has utility value too. Dan Kriel was good against the Cheetahs but sat out in Nelspruit to give Damian de Allende a chance to start. Now that De Allende is with the Boks, will Kriel return to the No 12 jersey, or will Dobson opt to play Dan du Plessis?
The former South African Schools inside centre has had his injury problems but is now recovered and ready to play and he is rightly highly rated by the WP coaches.
Senatla would add to to Dobson’s headaches but assistant coach Dawie Snyman has confirmed that the Sevens star has been ruled out of the rest of the domestic season with a groin injury.
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