The Cape Town side are well aware of the mind games that abound in crunch matches, and have chosen to ignore the Free State taunts.
Ollie le Roux told this website on Tuesday that although the Vodacom Western Province pack are playing well, they are standing up in the scrums. This is an illegal method utilised by props who cannot sustain the pressure applied by the opposition.
WP coach Kobus van der Merwe dismissed this reasoning with a light chuckle. “Ollie is always one for a little psychological warfare,” he explained to keo.co.za. “We know that it will be tough in the scrums, but we have scrummed well this season against every team we have played against.”
Le Roux had singled out WP youngster Brock Harris as the main culprit for illegal tactics. Van der Merwe defended his tighthead, remarking on his steady improvement throughout the season.
“Brock has been scrumming extremely well. I think he had one of his best games when he went up against Kees Lensig, who is probably the best loosehead in the country.
“Marius Jonker [who will handle Friday's game in Bloemfontein] is also a very good referee, so we have faith that there will be no room for any illegalities.”
Van der Merwe admits that he is nervous about going up to Bloemfontein. The Vodacom Cheetahs will have plenty to prove after losing to WP in the first round, and will also be dangerous following the defeat at Ellis Park last week.
“I think that they have some tough games coming up, and at home they will be viewing this match as one they have to win,” he said.
Van der Merwe also remarked on Meyer Bosman’s injury as a huge blow to the Free State team.
“Even although they have two good flyhalves, we had expected them to play Bosman at No 10 in this match. But Willem de Waal is a good goal kicker, and you need that in these close games.”
WP are likely to field the same starting line-up that beat the Vodacom Blue Bulls at Newlands last week. Both Robbie Diack and Justin Melck sat on the grandstand for the duration of Tuesday’s practice, but are expected to be ready in time for the game.
Huia Edmonds (lower back) and Ross Skeate (ankle) will not travel up to Bloemfontein, but are expected to be fit for next week’s home fixture against the Valke.
The team will be announced live from Newlands at noon today.
By Jon Cardinelli