Boland scrumhalf Dewald Duvenhage is the biggest surprise in a WP starting team that sees three changes.
Alastair Siegelaar is dropped to the bench after last week’s performance against Griquas. Since halfbacks Conrad Hoffmann (injury), Ricky Januarie and Bolla Conradie (both with the Springboks) are all unavailable, Allister Coetzee has called on the Boland No 9. Paul Delport has been sent back to play for his club UCT.
“I’ve learned something after playing our first three games in the wet,” Coetzee told keo.co.za. “The Highveld is far quicker and we need a player to suit this style.
“Dewald was involved with the Stormers during the Super 14 and we are fortunate to have a player of his calibre at our disposal. I have a lot of faith in Dewald.”
PJ Vermeulen is brought in for centre Morgan Newman, who will play from the bench. The other change to the starting line-up is Justin Melck coming in for injured openside Pieter Myburgh. Melck will also cover the No 8 position.
Coetzee admitted it was a mistake to play Newman at 13 in the last fixture in Kimberley. WP are still without Dylan des Fountain, who should return from a hamstring ailment next week.
“Morgan is not an outside centre. We need a specialist in that position. Morgan will compete for the No 12 shirt with Bobes [Gcobani Bobo].
“PJ was one of our best backs in the first match against the Sharks. He has the pace and ability to hit that outside gap.”
Back from French club Auch, Naas Olivier is included among the reserves given Isma-eel Dollie has already moved to Boland. Pieter Louw will make a long-awaited return from injury after missing the latter stages of the 2007 Absa Currie Cup and 2008 Super 14.
Flyhalf Willem de Waal did not train with the side on Wednesday after having an ingrown toenail removed. He is still expected to take the field against the Valke this Friday.
There is still no sign of winger Sireli Naqelevuki, who is yet to return from Fiji. The massive No 11 has pulled this stunt before, missing the 2007 Super 14 after mysteriously missing several flights to Cape Town.
“If you can find out where he is that would be great,” said Coetzee. The WP coach wore a smile, but he was clearly not joking.
WP – 15 Gio Aplon, 14 Tonderai Chavhanga, 13 PJ Vermeulen, 12 Gcobani Bobo (c), 11 Wylie Human, 10 Willem de Waal, 9 Dewald Duvenhage, 8 AJ Venter, 7 Francois Louw, 6 Justin Melck, 5 Ross Skeate, 4 Adriaan Fondse, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Deon Fourie, 1 Wicus Blaauw.
Subs: 16 Simon Westraadt, 17 Schalk Ferreira, 18 Pieter Louw, 19 Conraad Britz, 20 Alastair Siegelaar, 21 Naas Olivier, 22 Morgan Newman.