Aplon and De Jongh benched for W. Province

Springboks Gio Aplon and Juan de Jongh have been named on the Western Province bench for their match against the Lions in Cape Town this weekend.

Coach Alistair Coetzee said earlier in the day he would need all the senior experience he could get in what would be a physical encounter against a strong Lions team.

He had also suggested Aplon and De Jongh would warm the bench, with only one practice session left before their Currie Cup encounter on Friday.

The Star reported on Wednesday that Aplon and De Jongh, released by Bok management ahead of the Tri-Nations Test against New Zealand on Saturday, had been named in the match 22.

“It’s an early Christmas present for us to have two Springboks available,” Coetzee said.

The Lions have had an extended season to their Super Rugby campaign as they have continued with the same unit under the watchful eye of coach John Mitchell, and it seems this formula has helped them to the top of the domestic top flight table.

Meanwhile, a youthful Province side have found themselves facing much stronger opponents, and have had to gain experience quickly — something which they have achieved.

They lost by six points against a Cheetahs side boasting a number of returning Springboks and then faced an experienced Sharks outfit with a virtual international backline, losing by only two points.

“We’ve really had to do a lot of work in mentoring and developing players, but our plan is to develop them into next season’s Super Rugby competition,” said Coetzee.

He said part of the Lions’ success lay in their solid attacks and set phases, and the key to combat any resilient attack was practicing patience.

“The Lions are a side who hold onto a ball and take it through many phases, we must dominate and be patient, and do it well for the full 80 minutes,” said Coetzee.

After five rounds of Currie Cup rugby, Western Province have conceded only four tries, while the visiting Lions team have scored 23.

Western Province team:

Conrad Jantjies, Danie Poolman, Johann Sadie, Tim Whitehead, JJ Engelbrecht, Demetri Catrakilis, Dewaldt Duvenage, Nick Koster, Siya Kolisi, Pieter Louw, De Kock Steenkamp, Hilton Lobberts, Brok Harris, Deon Fourie (captain), Steven Kitshoff.

Replacements: Tiaan Liebenberg, Frans Malherbe, Quinn Roux, Nick Fenton-Wells, Nic Groom, Juan de Jongh, Gio Aplon.

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