Experienced prop Brok Harris will captain Western Province in their final league match of the 2014 Absa Currie Cup season – against the Sharks at Newlands on Saturday (kick-off 17:05). DHL Western Province have already qualified for a home semifinal, by virtue of their top of the log finish with a game in hand, and head coach Allister Coetzee has handed starts to captain Harris, fit-again Springbok hooker Tiaan Liebenberg and flyhalf Kurt Coleman, who will make his 50th appearance for Province. Harris, who will be leaving Western Province at the end of the season – after eight years in the Cape, has played 117 matches for Western Province and 93 for the Stormers.
Inside centre Jaco Taute was not considered for selection due to a rib injury, with Michael Van Der Spuy and Pat Howard combining at centre this week. Wings EW Viljoen (from the WP Under-21 ranks) and Devon Williams will both get their first taste of Currie Cup action, whilst forwards Oli Kebble (prop) and Jurie Van Vuuren (lock) will also earn first-ever starts at this level after impressing off the bench last weekend and, like Williams, having already featured for the Stormers earlier this season. Forwards Justin Ackerman (prop – a member of the cup-winning Under-21 side from last year), Gavin Annandale (lock/flank – on loan) and Patrick O’Brien (loose forward – from UWC) are all in line to make their first-ever Currie Cup appearances from the bench, along with utility back Chevandre Van Schoor, a contracted WP player.
A familiar face on the bench this week is that of former Western Province captain Anton Van Zyl, who joins the matchday squad following injuries to first-choice locks Jean Kleyn and Ruan Botha. “It’s a great opportunity to expand the capacity of our squad. I’d love to be in the position to have some selection headaches for the semifinal after a big game like this against the Sharks who have everything to play for and will create just the pressure-filled environment needed to test those players coming into this side this week,” explained WP coach Allister Coetzee at Thursday’s team announcement. Coetzee is expecting a tough match on Saturday, as the Sharks head to Newlands knowing that a win could put them in line for a home semi-final.
Coetzee says, “The Sharks are starting to fire at the right time, they’re starting to play some good rugby and there’s a big belief in the side. They’re a formidable team and will present a huge challenge (for us).” Match tickets for Saturday are priced from just R35 (for standing), whilst seating prices range between R55, R65, R75 and R95 and can be purchased right now from http://wprugby.ticketpros.co.za. Tickets can also be bought directly from the Newlands Box Office (opening times this week: Tuesday-Friday, 09:00-16:00 and Saturday, 09:00-15:30), or from selected Western Cape Spar stores and PostNet branches (nationwide).