UCT centre Marcel Brache will make his provincial debut on the wing against the Griffons this Friday.
The compulsory friendly in Welkom is Western Province’s only fixture before their first Currie Cup game against the Cheetahs on 10 July. Coach Allister Coetzee has picked his strongest available side, and is unlikely to make many changes for next week’s game.
Brache comes in as a late replacement for Frikkie Welsh, who is recovering from a dislocated finger. Brache played outside centre for UCT in the Varsity Cup, but Coetzee feels he should be just as effective on the left wing.
‘I don’t want to speak too soon, but there’s something special about this boy,’ Coetzee told keo.co.za. ‘He’s a talented player and we’ve been very impressed with how he’s stood up to the contact.
‘As a university student, he hasn’t been gymming regularly, so that is something we’ll have to work on. But there have been no problems so far and I’m keen to see how he goes against the Griffons. He has a lot of fight in him, and is a versatile player that can play centre, wing or even fullback.’
The 23-year-old attended Rondebosch Boys High School and was never picked for WP’s Craven Week side. Since joining the UCT team, however, he’s made a great impact, and this Province call-up arrives on the back of his selection for the Springbok Sevens squad.
Brache will form part of back-three unit that includes Fabian Juries and Conrad Jantjes. This will be Jantjes’ first match since he broke his leg in May last year, and Coetzee is expecting the Springbok fullback to find his feet quickly.
‘Conrad has been through a number of contact sessions, and we’re now throwing him into the deep end. He must swim. He’s shown no ill-effects in training and is over the psychological thing [that's part of returning from a serious injury].
‘I would have loved to have given Conrad another game before the Currie Cup starts, but you can’t have everything.’
Paul Bosch fills the void left by Juan de Jongh at inside centre while Tim Whitehead moves back to his preferred position of No 13. With Peter Grant in Japan, Willem de Waal reclaims the flyhalf berth with WP vice-captain Dewaldt Duvenage starting at scrumhalf.
Coetzee has also moved Rynardt Elstadt to blindside flank, and there’s no place for Nick Koster in the matchday squad. It appears as if Koster will have to prove his worth in the U21 side if he’s going to push Duane Vermeulen for that No 8 shirt.
‘Rynardt can cover lock and flank, he’s very much in the Danie Rossouw mold,’ the coach said. ‘Nick is part of the bigger squad, but I want him to build himself up by playing for the U21s first. Now that he’s back in the loose trio, he needs to obtain a greater understanding of our systems.’
As reported by keo.co.za on Monday, Anton van Zyl will lead the side in the absence of several senior players on duty with the Springboks. Should WP qualify for the play-offs, they’ll welcome back these players, and Coetzee confirmed that Stormers skipper Schalk Burger will retake the WP reins in that event.
‘Worms [Van Zyl] has a good head on his shoulders and has been part of our senior group of players since last year. He understands the game well and should do a great job while Schalk is away with the Boks.’
WP -15 Conrad Jantjes, 14 Fabian Juries, 13 Tim Whitehead, 12 Paul Bosch, 11 Marcel Brache, 10 Willem de Waal, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Rynardt Elstadt, 6 Pieter Louw, 5 Anton van Zyl (c), 4 Adriaan Fondse, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Tiaan Liebenberg, 1 Wicus Blaauw.
Subs: 16 Deon Fourie, 17 JD Moller, 18 JC Kritzinger, 19 Martin Muller, 20 Pieter Myburgh, 21 Conrad Hoffmann, 22 Lionel Cronje.
By Jon Cardinelli