Allister Coetzee believes he’s followed the best course of action by managing and resting his Springboks in the build up to big games.
Two matches remain in the league stages of the Absa Currie Cup, but the WP coach is unwilling to relinquish the momentum that’s come with three big wins. Province still have to take 10 points in two weeks, and to ensure play-off qualification they’ll need to win by convincing margins.
A recent media report on OFM sport confirmed national coach Peter de Villiers requested that Cheetahs and Springbok flanker Juan Smith be rested this weekend. Province have far more Boks at their disposal, but Coetzee told this website last week there was no pressure from above to sideline his stars.
The WP coach also spoke about managing the players during the week rather than excluding them from the weekend’s matches. Following Friday’s victory over Griquas, Province have been given a full three days to rest. Monday is usually an intensive training day with gym and field sessions scheduled. This has now been shifted to Tuesday.
There is only a brief session scheduled for Wednesday morning while on Thursday there will be no training at all. Friday will see the regular captain’s practice which is never a long or intensive affair.
Whether the Cape-based side will follow this same course of action before the Lions fixture remains to be seen. The up side of this formula is the players receive more time for recuperation, the down side is the team may begin to lose its synergy.
The Boks have made all the difference to a WP outfit that struggled badly in their absence. The return of the Test players has resulted in three wins, but these have come against three weaker teams. The Lions have pipped the Cape team in the final stages before (the 2008 Super 14 game to name but one example) and the Sharks and Bulls will be tough to top in the play-offs. Province need to be firing by next week, as individual brilliance may not be enough to secure silverware or even semi-final qualification.
Fifteen points in the past three games is hard to criticise, but at times WP have looked disjointed and little mistakes and inaccuracies have led to missed opportunities. The Currie Cup is not Test rugby nor the Super 14, but come the play-offs, you have to take your chances.
Allowing the players sufficient rest is one thing, but maintaining momentum and strengthening combinations could require further compromise. While it may appear Coetzee doesn’t have a choice when he opts to rest players during the week, it’s a decision that could cost WP in the long run if they fail to fire due to a lack of preparation.
By Jon Cardinelli