Key men cutting it close

Vodacom Western Province backs Gio Aplon and Werner Greeff are still battling with their fitness ahead of the knockout game at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

“Gio and Werner are still struggling with injuries and we are giving them until tomorrow [Thursday] to recover,” said WP assistant coach Jerome Paarwater.

Aplon has been training with a groin injury, but has not been able to do much kicking during the week. Greeff, who only made his comeback to first class rugby last Saturday against Griquas is currently nursing a niggling knee ailment. But Paarwater remains optimistic about the situation.

“Gio’s injury is different to Werner’s. Once Werner’s swelling has subsided and the bleeding gone, he should be okay. Both of them are receiving continuous treatment and both have a 90% chance to be ready.”

If they do fail the final fitness test tomorrow, Joe Pietersen is likely to slot in at fullback. Sireli Naqelevuki may move to outside centre that shifts young Corne Uys to No 12, while Sarel Potgieter is another option at inside centre. With Zhahier Ryland out for the season, this may open the door for someone like Gus Theron, who has not featured at all for WP this season.

What WP do know for certain is that Selborne Boome will play no part in the semi-final due to a shoulder injury incurred in last weeks 55-17 win over Griquas. The good news for Province is that their back row will be up to full-strength, with Justin Melck and Robbie Diack being tipped to start.

The team will be announced on Thursday at noon.