Knee injury forces Province midfield shuffle

Morgan Newman, the Western Province inside centre, has been ruled out of the rest Currie Cup rugby season after damaging ligaments in his left knee against the Blue Bulls at Newlands last week.

The injury will force Western Province coach Allister Coetzee to reshuffle the side’s midfield for their match against the Free State Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Saturday.

It is likely the regular outside centre, Juan de Jongh, who has been one of the finds of the 2009 Currie Cup season, will move to the inside berth. De Jongh’s place is likely to be taken by Frikkie Welsh.

“There are a few options, but Juan (De Jongh) and Frikkie (Welsh) would be my first choice,” said Coetzee.

“We could also bring Conrad Hoffmann in at 10 and move Bash (Peter Grant) to 12, but I think the combination that played against the Bulls did very well.”

The Province side is presently riding the crest of a wave and the side has been building up a momentum after fielding largely unchanged sides in recent weeks.

Despite the loss of Newman, Province’s player fortunes could be taking a turn for the better as hooker Tiaan Libenberg, wing Sireli Naqelevuki and prop JC Kritzinger will be returning from injuries next week.

Flyhalf Willem de Waal and lock Andries Bekker is also just a week or two away from returning to the training ground. And then with the Boks returning next week, scrumhalf Ricky Januarie and flank Schalk Burger will also be available for selection.

The return of these players after the Cheetahs clash will coincide with Province’s three-match sequence against the unfashionable sides such as the Leopards, Griquas and Boland, the last two of which will be played in the comfort of their Newlands fortress.

The player impetus during this phase should allow the changing combinations to settle down with the minimum of fuss.

The efforts to retain the services of All Black Chris Jack has come to nought as the star lock has not been able to find a way past his contractual obligations with the New Zealand Rugby Union.

As a result, Saturday’s Bloemfontein clash will be his swansong for the ‘Streeptruie’. Welsh, Jack, wing Tonderai Chavhanga and flank Duane Vermeulen sat out at Monday’s training but none of them pose injury threats ahead of Saturday’s fixture.

“We are not worried about them, but it is just a matter of managing them properly,” said Coetzee.

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