Despite disruptions Dobson ‘thrilled’ for Ntubeni
WP coach's bitter-sweet feelings over losing his first-choice hooker
Western Province coach John Dobson might strike Bok mentor Rassie Erasmus from his Christmas card list after the latter left Dobson with a huge problem before Friday’s crucial Currie Cup clash with Griquas in Kimberley.
Erasmus called up WP hooker Scarra Ntubeni‚ tighthead Wilco Louw‚ flank Siya Kolisi and fullback Dillyn Leyds to the Bok squad on Tuesday. They are all likely to feature against Argentina at Loftus this weekend.
With the exception of Kolisi‚ who has only played 47 minutes of Currie Cup rugby in five years for WP‚ the other three were central to Dobson’s plans. It was certainly a disruption for WP in a game they have to win to stay in contention for the semifinals.
Dobson has called up hooker Schalk Erasmus as cover with Chad Solomon set to start at hooker. Tighthead Carlu Sadie earns a return and there is a start for SP Marais at fullback in Leyds’ absence.
“These call-ups have been disruptive in some areas and I suppose having being given a little more notice would have been useful in terms of getting another hooker in‚” Dobson said.
“We used our young bench last week and wore some pain in the second half‚ but we got [hooker] Chad Solomon on nice and early‚ which is good because we didn’t expect to lose Scarra this weekend. It’s a massive opportunity for Chad this weekend.”
Dobson acknowledged that he was proud of Ntubeni‚ who has been on the fringes of international rugby for years. He toured twice with the Boks in 2013 and 2014‚ but never played.
As tradition dictates‚ an uncapped member of the touring party is not allowed to wear his blazer and can only sling it over his arm.
“I know I sound like I’m carping‚ but in truth I couldn’t be more thrilled for Scarra in particular‚” Dobson said. “He went on two tours and had to carry his blazer over his arm. Hopefully that will change after this weekend.
“I’m really thrilled Rassie has noticed Scarra’s form because we have given him a lot of game time. He absolutely deserves this opportunity at Test level. Selfishly I want him to play for us.
“At one stage there was concern that Scarra would never play again [after a ruptured Achilles tendon] but he fought back. His nickname is ‘joy’ in the team‚ because he is so positive. It’s a really great story.”
In the loose trio‚ JD Schickerling is back at blindside flank‚ with Ernst van Rhyn shifting back to the openside.
Salmaan Moerat is at lock alongside captain Chris van Zyl.
Promising under-21 hooker Erasmus is set to make his WP debut from the replacements bench‚ with lock David Meihuizen and scrumhalf Paul de Wet also coming into the match 23.
Dobson said that his team have embraced the challenge of going to Kimberley and putting in a big performance.
“We know that we will have to work incredibly hard if we are going to get the result we want in Kimberley‚ so there will certainly be no lack of motivation.
“We have lost a few good players‚ but we also have some very talented players coming back‚ so we are looking forward to seeing what they can do up there.”
Western Province: 15 SP Marais‚ 14 Sergeal Petersen‚ 13 Ruhan Nel‚ 12 Dan Kriel‚ 11 Seabelo Senatla‚ 10 Josh Stander‚ 9 Justin Phillips‚ 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe‚ 7 JD Schickerling‚ 6 Ernst van Rhyn‚ 5 Chris van Zyl‚ 4 Salmaan Moerat‚ 3 Carlu Sadie‚ 2 Chad Solomon‚ 1 Corne Fourie. Replacements: 16 Schalk Erasmus‚ 17 Kwenzo Blose‚ 18 Neethling Fouche‚ 19 David Meihuizen‚ 20 Nama Xaba‚ 21 Paul de Wet‚ 22 Damian Willemse‚ 23 Edwill van der Merwe.
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