Province ‘fighting for form’

A simple yet structured approach is key to curbing the dangerous Bolanders this Saturday, says WP coach Allister Coetzee.

It was just over a year ago when the heads started to roll at Western Province. After two consecutive failures in the Super 14, a 15-10 defeat to Boland in the Absa Currie Cup was the final nail in the coffin for Kobus van der Merwe.

Coetzee is only five games into the job and under no such pressure, but after back-to-back disappointments against Griquas and the Valke, WP are desperate for victory. Despite their current position, Coetzee told this is no time to panic.

“It may sound a bit strange but these experiences can be very valuable to a new coach. Rassie [Erasmus] went through it in the first three games of the Super 14, and Jake [White] was also struggling at one stage [with the Springboks].

“I don’t think there is a lack of desire in this team, but we need to take the fight to Boland this weekend.”

It is unclear whether WP-contracted Isma-eel Dollie will start for Boland after being officially loaned to the Wellington side last week. The Kavaliers also have Louis Koen on their coaching staff, a man who helped with the Stormers during the Super 14.

These two are certain to hand the smaller side significant intel. It’s one of the major reasons WP have had only one open training session this week, as some alterations to the game plan needed to be made.

“We are trying a few new things and our neighbours aren’t far away. A few of them have played in our system before and know the calls. It’s going to be an interesting game,” said Coetzee.

“We are looking at this Saturday as an opportunity to fix a few problem areas. We have a good defensive system but we slipped off too many tackles last week. The Valke play a high-risk, high-reward kind of game and it came off last week. Our mistakes cost us and we ended up playing catch-up rugby.

“I also wasn’t happy with our attack. We had seven opportunities to score. We’ve got to round off those chances.”

WP captain Gcobani Bobo was one of the few players who stood out, but the Bok centre admitted he was unhappy with the overall showing. Having four Test players back should lift the side for a must-win encounter.

“There is a bit of pressure,” Bobo said. “We didn’t respect the ball last week; our ball retention was definitely not up to scratch. That will be our primary focus against Boland.”

By Jon Cardinelli