Despite losing Peter Grant’s creative skills in the midfield, the Cape Town side have gained plenty of running in Sevens star Sarel Potgieter.
In the absence of Grant, Corne Uys will move into the inside channel, while the 22-year-old former Sevens specialist will wear the No 13 jersey in his second appearance at this level.
“It will be incredibly exciting to see what Sarel can produce,” Western Province technical director Gary Gold told keo.co.za. “He has a terrific pedigree and has been playing some good rugby with the Vodacom Cup side this season.”
The loss of Grant was a big blow to the WP backline, as the partnership that had begun to grow between him and Naas Olivier has played a significant part in WP’s unexpected good form this season. Grant also played a major role as a kicker, and as a defender, he was solid.
Potgieter has the advantage of a prodigious boot, a valuable attribute that has seen him at flyhalf before. He is also able to run the 40m in under 5 seconds. Along with Gio Aplon, Joe Pietersen and Egon Seconds, the Province backs won’t be lacking any toe.
On defence, however, things are less certain, and the new centre combination may take some time to settle.The shifting of Uys to inside centre may be an experimental move, but Gold is confident that the player has other qualities that may be an asset to the midfield.
“Corne is a very vocal player,” Gold explained. “Naas and Peter are often criticised for being too quiet in the channel, while Corne likes to make a noise. From an organisational point of view this can be very useful, as it improves the communication.”
Although WP will be without Grant, Marius Joubert and Jean de Villiers for the rest of the competition, there should still be a decent scrap for a midfield berth. Besides De Wet Barry on the bench, the Fijian Sireli Naqelevuki is set to join the WP squad on July 22.
By Jon Cardinelli