Lucky Number13 for Johnny Kotze

Western Province backline ace Johnny Kotze has been entrusted with the number 13 jersey for Saturday’s Absa Currie Cup clash against the Blue Bulls at Loftus Versfeld (kick-off 19:10).  Kotze, 22, replaces the injured Juan De Jongh at outside centre in the only starting change from last weekend’s hard-fought 9-3 win over the Free State Cheetahs in Cape Town.  Kotze made eight Super Rugby starts for the Stormers earlier this season (on the wing), but this will be his first Currie Cup start – having made his tournament debut off the bench two weeks ago against Griquas.

Province coach John Dobson says:  ‘It was always our intention to get Johnny into the number13 jersey at some point, but, of course, it has now been necessitated by Juan’s injury.  We certainly are very excited about this opportunity for Johnny – he is a skilful and level-headed player and I have no doubt he will flourish at this level.’  There are also three changes on the Province bench this week, with Springbok squad member Scarra Ntubeni replacing Marius Fourie as the hooker replacement, Chris Van Zyl replacing fellow lock Jan De Klerk and Huw Jones coming in for Kobus Van Wyk as specialist centre cover.  Jones will be on Currie Cup debut for WP, despite making 14 appearances for the Stormers this year.

Dobson added:  ‘With Juan out we need cover at inside centre and Huw gives us a great option off the bench in that position.  It was a tough call leaving Kobus out, but we have picked a team we believe can do the job for us at Loftus Versfeld in what should be a fast-paced encounter.’  The Streeptruie (third place on the log), the Lions (second) and the Bulls (first place) are the only remaining unbeaten teams after two rounds of 2015 Currie Cup action and Dobson is expecting a hard-fought North-South Derby in the ‘Bullring’.

He says:  ‘This won’t be a typical North-South Derby in that the Bulls are evolving as a team under their new coaching staff.  We’re certainly looking forward to the challenge of playing in Pretoria – a full Loftus Versfeld in a North-South Derby is one of the most beautiful sights in South African rugby, plus a dry, fast pitch will lead to a more open game… unlike last week’s tough one in the wet.’

The Western Province team for Saturday (v Blue Bulls, away) is as follows:

15. Cheslin Kolbe
14. Dillyn Leyds
13. Johnny Kotze (Currie Cup starting debut for WP)
12. Jaco Taute
11. Seabelo Senatla
10. Demetri Catrakilis
9. Nic Groom (vice-captain)
8. Nizaam Carr (captain)
7. Sikhumbuzo Notshe
6. Rynhardt Elstadt
5. Ruan Botha
4. Jean Kleyn
3. Wilco Louw
2. Bongi Mbonambi
1. Oli Kebble


Replacements:

16. Scarra Ntubeni
17. Alistair Vermaak
18. Chris Van Zyl
19. Chris Cloete
20. Jano Vermaak
21. Kurt Coleman
22. Huw Jones (On Currie Cup debut for WP)