Coetzee backs rookie for final

WP coach Allister Coetzee has selected Damian de Allende at No 12 for Saturday’s Currie Cup final against the Sharks.

De Allende replaces Marcel Brache in this crucial position; the first time he will partner Juan de Jongh in midfield. This is the only change made by Coetzee following last week’s semi-final win against the Golden Lions.

A season-ending injury to Ederies Arendse allowed De Allende to come into the squad, and a string of strong performances eventually saw him securing a starting berth on the wing during the latter half of the season.

Coetzee feels that the powerful player is good enough to start at No 12 in the most important game of the Currie Cup season. It’s clear that the slightly-built Brache does not fit the requirement for a clash of this nature.

‘Marcel will still have a job to do from the bench, but we’ve gone with Damian to start because we need somebody who can front up physically in that position,’ said the Province coach.

‘He has explosive pace and is a good ball carrier. He has good core skills and is a solid defender. Whenever he has played for us, he has made a massive impression. He did that again last week; his contribution was telling.’

Coetzee doesn’t feel that the fact that De Allende hasn’t played at No 12 at this level will count against him. De Allende’s inexperience is also not viewed as a shortcoming.

‘The conditions underfoot will be heavy, and Damian is the player we need for these conditions. He’s young but he’s good enough to be handed this opportunity.

‘He has played in that position for the WP U21s before. He will also have some experienced players around him like Juan and Bryan Habana. Damian knows what’s required of him in that position, he knows our systems having been involved for some time.’

Gio Aplon is retained at fullback despite the superior kicking game of Joe Pietersen. Coetzee explained that it would help to have Aplon’s left boot complementing Demetri Catrakilis’s right in what should be a big tussle for territory.

Former Springbok prop Deon Carstens and provincial veteran Brok Harris are also named on the bench, with younger front rowers in Frans Malherbe and Steven Kitshoff backed to start. The WP coaches are hoping that this will allow the team to finish strongly.

Western Province – 15 Gio Aplon, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Don Armand, 6 Deon Fourie (c), 5 De Kock Steenkamp, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Subs: 16 Deon Carstens, 17 Brok Harris, 18 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 19 Jebb Sinclair, 20 Louis Schreuder, 21 Marcel Brache, 22 Joe Pietersen.

By Jon Cardinelli