Province pay heavy price for Currie Cup victory

Western Province’s Currie Cup hopes suffered a huge setback with the news that both first-choice locks, Ruan Botha and Jean Kleyn, sustained season-ending injuries over the weekend against the Pumas in Nelspruit.

The team’s usual Monday medical report also revealed that the season could potentially be over for star playmaker Cheslin Kolbe.

Province coach Allister Coetzee cut a dejected figure when he declared “the news is not good” at a conference in Cape Town.

“It is true that we paid a high price for our bonus-point win at the Mbombela Stadium, where the Pumas suffered their first home defeat of the season,” said Coetzee.

“The match was not televised so very few people would have seen how we were disrupted by a string of injuries. It was a massive effort by the players to win the match, and then snatch a bonus-point try right at the end. One has to give credit to the leadership in the group.”

Province have already lost the backline services of Seabelo Senatla and Justin Geduld to the Springbok Sevens squad.

Early in the match, Botha went down with an ankle injury and he was later followed off the field by his second-row partner, Kleyn, who sustained a knock to the shoulder.

“After both our locks picked up injuries, we lost (at the start of the second half) Cheslin with a slight fracture to the vertebrae, so you can imagine, our bench came into play much sooner than what we planned,” said Coetzee.

“We won’t see Ruan and Jan again this season and Cheslin could face a four-week lay-off by, which time the season would have ended already.

But I’m hoping Cheslin makes a dramatic recovery and that he may be available for the play-offs.”

Coetzee said the team was faced with a lock crisis and that flank, Michael Rhodes, has been earmarked for lock cover.

“There are locks like Gerbrandt Grobler (shoulder) and Tazz Fuzani (broken arm) that are in the squad but both are still on the injury list and will not be available for selection again this year. We will look at a young player like Jurie van Vuuren who played for us in the Super Rugby season.”

Utility backliner Michael van der Spuy joined the fray as a reserve against the Pumas, and he too came away with an injury. His hip injury will be assessed on Tuesday, by which time Coetzee will have a fair idea of who is available for Saturday’s clash against the Free State Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.

Coetzee has also written off hopes of seeing Springbok hooker Tiaan Liebenberg (back) in action again this season.

“We review his condition on a week-to-week basis but it does not look like we’ll have him back this season. If he returns this year, it will be a bonus.”

There will be a new look about the Province back three this week in the absence of Kolbe, Senatla and Geduld.

Dillyn Leyds, who was signed from the Western Force a few months ago, has finally arrived to take up his contract in Cape Town.

Of late, he has played for Perth Spirit in Australia’s domestic National Rugby Championship (NRC) competition.

“Last season Dillyn was one of our best juniors and we’re pleased to have him back. He is coming back at a good time and there won’t be a problem with his fitness because he has been playing over the past few weekends.

“He will definitely be considered for selection this week because we can do with his experience.”

Springbok, Damian de Allende, has not been in the national team’s’ recent match-day squads and Coetzee was asked about his Currie Cup availability, particularly at a time when Province were looking thin in backline back-up.

“Damian is a SA Rugby Union-contracted player and we know what the policy is so we’re not expecting him to be available. It’s only when the Springboks decide that a player needs game-time, that they release players for provincial selection,” said Coetzee.

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