Cape Town - Jaco Coetzee’s “stopping power” is important enough to Western Province’s chances of success in Saturday’s Durban Currie Cup final that he will be given until the 11th hour to prove his fitness.
The openside flank, who has Durban’s Glenwood High School listed as his alma-mater, left the field at the end of the first quarter of WP’s excellent 19-5 win over the Golden Lions in last weekend’s semifinal at Newlands. He failed his cognitive test and the concussion protocols will determine whether he gets to play in the deciding match of a season where he has more than contributed to Province’s success.
Against the Sharks, who boast bulky ball carriers in the form of the two Du Preez twins, Dan and Jean-Luc, and also some big digits in their tight five, Coetzee’s attributes will be needed, as will his physical play at the breakdowns. Sikhumbuzo Notshe was excellent as a replacement against the Lions, but Dobson admits that in terms of what is needed from the WP No 6 against the Sharks, playing Notshe is a bit like trying to fit a round peg into a square hole.
“Notshe was good against the Lions but if he has to start in the final he will be required to alter his role, which he did against the Lions when he came on,” said Dobson.
“Notshe is a bit like Neemo (Nizaam Carr) in that although he has been used as our fetcher both at WP and the Stormers on occasion, he is really a No 8. That is his best position and obviously if he starts we will miss what he can bring onto the field later as a bench player when we need to lift the tempo.”
So Dobson under no illusions – if there is no Coetzee at Kings Park on Saturday, it will hurt his team’s chances.
“It would be a big loss if Jaco couldn’t play because he has serious stopping power. That is why we will give him until as late as we can to prove his fitness,” said the coach.
While Coetzee is touch and go for the final, the same can’t be said for EW Viljoen. The centre, who has hardly missed a game for either WP or the Stormers this year, was helped limping from the field in the 34th minute of the semifinal and Dobson has resigned himself to having to make a new plan in the midfield.
“We know that EW is out, but Ruhan Nel did quite well there when EW left the field against the Lions,” said Dobson.
Dan du Plessis, a talented young player with a big future ahead of him, is back from injury and has enough ability for Dobson to seriously consider him for the final even though he hasn’t played for quite a few months. However, continuity should give it to the Sevens Bok.
“We will decide between Dan and Ruhan. It will probably be Ruhan,” he said.
Dobson hinted that Damian Willemse might return to fullback this week because of his kicking skills, which might be more necessary against the Sharks in a Currie Cup final than against the Lions, but if lengths on kicks – both field kicks and place kicks – is any consideration he should also be considering SP Marais, who is also back from injury. The journeyman fullback was a revelation for the Stormers in Super Rugby.
Dillyn Leyds played fullback last week but looks in line for a return to the wing, where he has played for the Boks and has played most of his matches for the Stormers and WP.
The WP team will be announced on Thursday
Read the story on SuperSport.com