Western Province captain Luke Watson is not concerned by his side’s 49-31 defeat to the World XV at Newlands last Friday.
The WP Invitational team included a number of old-timers as part of Corne Krige’s benefit game, including Krige himself, Bobby Skinstad and Braam van Straaten. However, the rest of the side was made up of players who will play a major part in this year’s Currie Cup campaign.
“To be honest, we are reading absolutely nothing into this game,” Watson told keo.co.za. “It was just a bit of fun, as well as a chance for us to honour Corne.”
The WP Invitational players had no more than two practices together before the match, and not everybody was present at these somewhat informal get-togethers.
“We did not play properly on Friday,” says Watson. “It was more of a day for individual brilliance. We weren’t calling any of our backline moves, and none of the defensive patterns used on the day are those which we usually employ.”
The game produced a total of 14 tries, with WP also boasting their fair share of individual brilliance.
“I was really impressed with guys like Gio Aplon and Zhahier Ryland who scored some amazing tries, as well as Paul Delport, who put in an incredible performance when he came on,” Watson explained.
Along with these three players, the Province contingent included a whole host of youngsters. Having the opportunity to play against the great Carlos Spencer or Matthew Burke is a fantastic opportunity for any provincial player.
Although a lot could be said for the entertainment value of a spectacle such as this, it is not an ideal way to prepare for a Currie Cup. It is most certainly not the best way to kickstart a WP revival after a dismal Super 14.
“It was a bit disruptive having this game before the season kicks off,” admitted Watson. “We lost a whole week of training and preparation for the upcoming Currie Cup. But it was worth it. I mean, the honour to not only play against these World XV players, but to play with the likes of Corne and Bobbyâ€¦ it was a very special opportunity.”
Watson is confident that the hard work that WP has been putting in on the training paddock will pay dividends.
“We are looking to become a more well-rounded side, and a side that is more consistent. We lacked consistency in the Super 14, and it is something that we have worked at in all areas of our game.”
“We have a lot of exciting youngsters coming through, and a few of the older guys will feel that they still have a point to prove. I think it’s going to be a very good Currie Cup for us.”
By Jon Cardinelli