Harris leads young Province side against Sharks

Western Province have chosen to wrap their first-choice players in cotton wool and field a second string team against the Sharks at Newlands in Saturday’s Currie Cup match.

Four players will make their run-on debuts for Province and the replacements 0bench includes a quartet who have never donned the Province jersey before.

“This Currie Cup season has been quite strenuous, because there are no breaks (byes) and we need to create depth in the squad by the time the play-offs start,” Coetzee said in Cape Town on Thursday.

“We need to have two or three players of quality in every position going into the end of the season. We can’t foresee injuries and other things (like suspensions) in the weeks that lie ahead.”

Along the backline, first-choices such as Kobus van Wyk, Juan de Jongh, Demetri Catrakilis and Nic Groom had been all been omitted from this week’s team.

Among the forwards, six members of last week’s eight-man pack will also be spectators. They are Nizaam Carr, Michael Rhodes, Manuel Carizza, Pat Cilliers, Scarra Ntubeni and Alistair Vermaak.

Coetzee said Province had earned the right to rest players after securing a first-place finish on the log ahead of the weekend’s final round of round-robin fixtures.

Despite making the numerous unforced changes, Coetzee said Province had the highest regard for the Sharks and the weekend selection was not a sign of disrespect for the opponents.

“Province will never disrespect an opposition team and that has always been our motto. These players have all been part of our squad since the start of the year. A player like (wing) EW Viljoen played for the Stormers in a warm-up match against Boland, and then he’s had a fair share of injuries.

“There is no point in risking players so with both locks Ruan Botha and Jean Kleyn out injured, we only have one specialist left in Manuel Carizza.

“We’re also faced with a situation that a few players like (fullback) Dillyn Leyds do not qualify to play in the play-off rounds.”

Lock Anton van Zyl who retired from the game in June after a three-season spell with French outfit Stade Francais had returned to alleviate the lock crisis at Newlands and was named on the bench.

Lock Gerbrandt Grobler, whose career had been beset by injuries, would play for the first time in months. His lack of game time meant he was likely to play only in the first half.

Province had also gone for an extra forward because of fitness concerns over Grobler and Van Zyl.

Stalwart prop Brok Harris will the lead the side in the absence of De Jongh.

Western Province

Dillyn Leyds, EW Viljoen, Pat Howard, Michael van der Spuy, Devon Williams, Kurt Coleman, Louis Schreuder, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Rynhardt Elstadt, Rohan Kitshoff, Gerbrandt Grobler, Jurie van Vuuren, Brok Harris (captain), Tiaan Liebenberg, Oliver Kebble.

Replacements: Neil Rautenbach, Justin Ackerman, Gavin Annandale, Anton van Zyl, Patrick O’Brien, Godlen Masimla, Chevandre van Schoor.

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