WP, EP renew rivalry

Western Province and the EP Mighty Elephants start their 2009 domestic season on Saturday in a compulsory friendly at St George’s Park in Port Elizabeth.

All teams competing in this season’s Absa Currie Cup will play at least one friendly ahead of South Africa’s premier domestic competition, which kicks off on Friday 10 July when the Boland Kavaliers host the  Leopards in Wellington in a premier division match. The Valke also play hosts to the Griffons in Kempton Park on Saturday 11 July in the opening game of the Currie Cup First Division.

Western Province coach Allister Coetzee viewed the upcoming match against the Mighty Elephants as an important part of their preparations for the Currie Cup. The side selected for the match excluded many Stormers players, who are being rested after the Super 14.

Coetzee has opted to field a side with a balance of youth and inexperience. Jurgens Visser, JJ Engelbrecht and Cameron Peverett are set to debut for the senior WP team.

‘I am excited about a player like flyhalf Jurgens Visser. He is very big for a flyhalf but he has one hell of a boot and good hands. He is also a good passer of the ball, so we are looking to see if he can take control of a backline at this level and he has a good feeling for the game,’ said Coetzee.

‘Wing JJ Engelbrecht was part of the wider Stormers training group this year, and took part in the final trials for the SA U20 team. He is quick, big and strong so it will be good to see what he can do. We know what we have in our senior players who played Super 14, so we would like to see what some of the youngsters can do.’

Mighty Elephants coach Anthony Heugh, who will be taking charge of the Port Elizabeth side for the first time on Saturday, said he will be using this game to identify possible combinations ahead of the Currie Cup first division kickoff on 11 July.

‘I am really looking to see how the team performs against a side like Western Province,’ said Heugh.

‘We need to get the confidence levels in the side right before the Currie Cup starts. There are also certain playing combinations within our team that I would like to have a look at before our first game, and playing a side like WP will be a great exercise for us.’

Mighty Elephants – Tiaan Muller, Elcardo Mintoor, Alfonso Pietersen, Clyde Theron, Darryl Halgreen, Ryan Brown, Sinethemba Jack, Michael Vermaak, Ashley Viviers, Elroy Ligman, Trichardt van Tonder, Andries Smit, Dylan Lamprecht, Robert Dyer, Pumlani Nodikida.
Subs: Stanley Afrikaner, Jaco Serfontein, Ayanda Nogampula, Sivuyile Kobokana, Marlon Lewis, Deon Booysen, Ryan January.

Western Province - Tiger Bax, Tonderai Chavhanga, Juan de Jongh, Morgan Newman, JJ Engelbrecht, Jurgens Visser, Conrad Hoffmann, Cameron Peverett, Zandre Jordaan, Pieter Louw, Martin Muller, De Kock Steenkamp, Brian Mujati, Hanyani Shimange (c), Schalk Ferreira.
Subs: Michael De-Neuilly Rice, Wicus Blaauw, Anton van Zyl, Jody Birch, Dewald Duvenage, PJ Vermeulen, Hayden Groepes.

Compulsory Friendly Fixtures:
13 June – Pumas vs Sharks, Witbank (15:00)
20 June – Valke vs Griquas, Kempton Park (15:00)
26 June – SWD Eagles vs Free State Cheetahs, George (19:00)
1 July – Border Bulldogs vs Blue Bulls, East London (19:05)
3 July – Griffons vs Golden Lions, Welkom (19:05)