Jean spearheads Bok-laden WP

Springbok captain Jean de Villiers has retaken the WP reins as coach Allister Coetzee has recalled all of his available Springboks for the final league clash against the Cheetahs.

De Villiers, who led the Cape side for almost the entire Super Rugby campaign due to season-ending injury to Schalk Burger, relieves Deon Fourie of the leadership responsibilities.

The return of De Villiers and Bok team-mate Juan de Jongh also means that WP will start a new centre pairing this week, with vice-captain Marcel Brache dropped to the bench and JP du Plessis forced out of the 22.

Seven Boks in all have returned to bolster the WP side at a crucial stage of the season. Province need to beat the Cheetahs this Saturday to keep their play-off chances alive.

Bryan Habana replaces Damian de Allende on the left wing, while Duane Vermeulen will start at No 8 in place of Jebb Sinclair.

The Bok second row combination that started against the All Blacks, Eben Etzebeth and Andries Bekker, will also be employed for this provincial battle. Tiaan Liebenberg, who was on the Bok bench at Soccer City, is in WP’s starting front row this week.

Meanwhile, Gio Aplon has recovered sufficiently from an ankle injury to find a place on the bench.

WP – 15 Joe Pietersen, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Jean de Villiers (c), 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Don Armand, 6 Deon Fourie, 5 Andries Bekker, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Tiaan Liebenberg, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Subs: 16 Scara Ntubeni, 17 Brok Harris, 18 De Kock Steenkamp, 19 Jebb Sinclair, 20 Louis Scrueuder, 21 Marcel Brache, 22 Gio Aplon.

By Jon Cardinelli