Fourie captains Province in Currie Cup opener

Hilton Lobberts, who made his Springbok rugby debut at the age of 20 in 2006, has landed a starting berth in the Western Province Currie Cup team to play Griquas at Newlands on Saturday.

The bruising player is better known as a loosie and his career has been dogged by injury, but Western Province coach Allister Coetzee said after he named his team on Thursday that Lobberts would lock the Province scrum alongside De Kock Steenkamp.

“He’s an abrasive player, a great defender and an excellent ball carrier,” said Coetzee.

“He’s had a good campaign in the Vodacom Cup competition and he’s really fit now. He’s overcome all his injuries.

“He’s experienced and knows what his role is all about.”

Coetzee named a vastly inexperienced three-quarter lineup which have never before played together as a combination.

However, he said the players had a golden opportunity to prove themselves on Saturday, more so because the Griquas lineup included a number of former Cape Town-based talents.

“Some of them (outside backs) had very limited experience in Super Rugby but this will be their opportunity to better themselves,” said Coetzee.

“Many of them will bring a new energy to the side which has loads of quality.

“There are a few Griquas players who were connected to Cape rugby in the past and they will want to prove that Province should have retained them rather than let them play elsewhere.

“This will add some needle to the match because the Province players will want to show that they are worth their places in the side.”

Coetzee said he was aware of the fact that Griquas had a habit of starting the Currie Cup season on a high note.

“We ourselves are looking to start well against a very competitive Griquas side,” said Coetzee.

“They are very familiar with our players and this is a side that’s capable of making the semifinals.

“They’ve shown over the years that at the start of the season they’re a force to be reckoned with until injuries catch up with them later.”

Centre Johann Sadie and wing JJ Engelbrecht, who recently penned a two-year contract with the Bulls, are in the backline along with inside centre Tim Whitehead and right wing Danie Poolman.

The fit-again Gary van Aswegen will direct operations from the flyhalf berth, and he’ll he partnered by the highly promising Louis Schreuder.

Province still have a number of players on the injury list, a legacy of the gruelling protracted Super Rugby season.

Names on their injury list include their captain, Duane Vermeulen, Dewaldt Duvenage, Rocky Elstad, Pieter Louw, JC Kritzinger and Lionel Cronje.

Western Province team:

Conrad Jantjes, Danie Poolman, Johan Sadie, Tim Whitehead, JJ Engelbrecht, Gary van Aswegen, Louis Schreuder, Nick Koster, Siya Kolisi, Wimpie van der Walt, De Kock Steenkamp, Hilton Lobberts, Brok Harris, Deon Fourie (captain), Wicus Blaauw.

Replacements: Tiaan Liebenberg, Frans Malherbe, Adriaan Fondse, Rohann Kitshoff, Nick Groom, Demetri Castrikillis, Marcel Brache

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