Frikkie Welsh’s physicality and experience will see him starting for WP against the Cheetahs this Saturday.
A dislocated finger kept Welsh out of the team that fronted the Griffons last Friday. UCT’s Marcel Brache took the veteran’s place on the left wing, and according to Allister Coetzee, produced a solid performance in the 29-5 victory.
Despite Brache’s bright start, the 23-year-old is unlikely to retain his position for the Currie Cup opener against Free State. Coetzee explained that with Welsh fit, they have a more physical and experienced option.
‘I was very pleased with the way Marcel went in Welkom,’ he told keo.co.za. ‘He’s made a good start and is definitely ready for Currie Cup rugby, but he still has a bit to learn with regards to our systems.
‘Frikkie’s strengths are well suited to this clash, and we will need experienced players for a big match away from home.’
Flyhalf Willem de Waal didn’t train with the team on Monday afternoon, but Coetzee confirmed the pivot’s ailments weren’t serious. De Waal hasn’t had much rugby of late and the stiffness in his legs in being managed.
This means that six of the seven that started in Welkom should be picked to start the Bloemfontein battle. Coetzee wasn’t entirely happy with the finishing in the warm-up match, but is backing his backline to produce results.
‘Perhaps I’m wrong to expect the same standard that was on show in the Super 14,’ he said. ‘The win over the Griffons was a good start, but at the same time, there’s plenty to work on. Like the Super 14, we’ve just got to ensure we improve week after week.’
Coetzee was impressed with WP’s showing at the set-pieces, and it seems as if this is one strength they’ve carried through from the Super 14. The scrum is functioning well and the drive from the lineout remains a weapon.
They do seem to be missing Francois Louw’s sharp decision-making at the breakdown, and Coetzee admits it will take some time for his new back row to gel. Pieter Louw, Rynardt Elstadt and Duane Vermeulen should be up against a Cheetahs loose trio that includes Juan Smith this Saturday, and Coetzee is keen to see how they measure up.
‘The Cheetahs are a Super 14 side and we’re sure to be tested. We’ve only had one warm-up match and we’re already up against a great team that’s won Currie Cups. After Saturday, we will know where we stand.
‘They have a strong pack of forwards and a dangerous backline. The thing is, when people think about the Cheetahs, they usually think of them as this expansive team that likes to move the ball around, but they have some very good kickers in their back division.
‘Meyer Bosman scored a try against the Stormers when they kicked one through and we haven’t forgotten that. Louis Strydom has an educated boot, Hennie Daniller can kick it a mile and Tewis de Bruyn is another who kicks well out of hand. We’ll have to be wary of those strengths.’
By Jon Cardinelli