The 63-17 hammering of the East Cape XV would have provided Allister Coetzee with few clues to his side’s depth.
In his first match in charge, Coetzee must have been chuffed with the scoreline, but the quality of the opposition disappointed. Solly Tyibilka’s men trailed 18-17 at the break, but woeful defence in the second stanza allowed for a WP blowout.
Province will take confidence from this result knowing stalwarts such as AJ Venter and Willem de Waal, not to mention a host of Stormers players, will be available for their opening Currie Cup game against the Sharks. They should arrive in Durban a competitive unit, but the result over their Eastern Cape counterparts needs to discarded, as it is no indicator of what they’ll face in the domestic competition.
East Cape XV coach Stanley Raubenheimer openly admitted his side was undercooked having only come together two days before the game on Saturday. The result is inconsequential to Province, and will be viewed more as an exercise of finding new combinations and testing new structures.
An accurate gauge of where this side stands will be in the Kings Park fixture on 20 June. The Stormers halfback pairing of Ricky Januarie and Peter Grant aren’t available due to Springbok call ups, along with Jean de Villiers, Gcobani Bobo, Tonderai Chavhanga, Conrad Jantjes, Luke Watson, Brian Mujati, Schalk Burger, Bolla Conradie and Andries Bekker. Flyhalf Isma-eel Dollie will be involved with the Emerging Springboks, as will centre Morgan Newman and wing Richard Lawson.
De Waal is likely to start at 10 with Ricardo Croy providing cover from the bench. Venter, playing his first match for WP against his old side, is another experienced head Coetzee will look to incorporate.
The Sharks will also be missing a number of players due to Springbok commitments, but their advantage should be in the midfield where Brad Barritt and Waylon Murray look set to resume their partnership. The return of Freddie Michalak won’t hurt either. By comparison, Province could be forced to start with third-string halfback and centre combinations.
It may be a tough baptism for some of the youngsters and Coetzee, but after plenty of hype about the upcoming domestic season, it will indicate how strong the depth at the Cape union really is.
By Jon Cardinelli