WP mull centre options for Currie Cup semifinal
Ruhan Nel experiment pays off but puts Scotland international Huw Jones on the spot
WP coach John Dobson has acknowledged that he is mulling over his centre options for Saturday’s Currie Cup semifinal.
Dobson said he and his fellow coaches would debate the centre combination "long into the night" after experimenting with Blitzbok Ruhan Nel at No12 against the Sharks last weekend. That forced Scotland international Huw Jones to play in the unfamiliar outside centre berth, with EW Viljoen on the bench.
"Ruhan did very well at No12 and bought directness to our play, but we’re not sure Huw went as well at 13‚" Dobson said. "EW Viljoen has gone well for us all season‚ so it’s a debate which way we go.
"Huw will definitely be in the team‚ but which number he wears is unclear.
"Damian de Allende won’t be back because the contracted Boks won’t be playing."
The coach also said that fullback SP Marais was back at full training, but was unlikely to start after a lengthy knee injury lay-off. Centre Daniel du Plessis‚ who has recovered from a shoulder injury‚ is another who could be used.
Last week, talented flyhalf Damian Willemse started at fullback and Dobson was happy with the balance of the back three, with Seabelo Senatla and Dillyn Leyds on the wings.
"SP hasn’t played for a while, so it might be hard to throw him back in for a semifinal‚" Dobson said. "Dillyn Leyds went well at wing, but there is a thought that maybe he should play fullback to get more involved. It’s another option to think about."
Dobson also felt that home ground advantage would be a huge positive factor for WP‚ even though the Lions will bolster their team with several returning Springboks.
"The Lions have been improving and the injection of five starting Springboks will make a big difference to any team‚" Dobson said.
"The Lions had those guys back last week and gave a great second-half performance‚ but playing at Newlands will help us. If we were playing that Lions team in Johannesburg for a third year in a row‚ we would be in real trouble."