DHL Western Province will kick off their SuperSport Rugby Challenge title defence against the EP Kings at Wolfson Stadium in Port Elizabeth on Sunday.
Coach John Dobson’s team went unbeaten last year to claim the inaugural title and will be looking to continue that winning run in their clash with the Eastern Cape side, which kicks off at 15h00 on Sunday.
No.8 Luke Stringer will captain an exciting team with a good blend of talented youth and proven experience at the Wolfson Stadium.
The front row of Ali Vermaak, Dean Muir and Frans Malherbe all boast Vodacom Super Rugby experience, while the loose trio of Stringer, Johan du Toit and Jaco Coetzee all proved themselves in last year’s SuperSport Rugby Challenge campaign.
Halfbacks Herschel Jantjies and Jean-Luc du Plessis will look to control matters and unleash the likes of Michal Hazner, Duncan Saal, Grant Hermanus and Tristan Leyds outside them.
Dobson said that while preparations have not been ideal with many players only joining the squad this week, they are confident of producing a worthy performance to get their title defence off to a good start.
“With Maties winning the Varsity Cup Final on Monday and some players also involved with the DHL Stormers, we have not had a lot of time together as a unit.
“However, we have some amazing talent in this team and if we can hit our straps then we have the potential to play some great rugby,” he said.
Dobson said that his players are looking forward to what is always a memorable experience at the Wolfson Stadium.
“Last year we really enjoyed playing in these festivals, so we have urged the players to soak up the atmosphere at the Wolfson Stadium, which truly is something special,” he added.
DHL Western Province: 15 Tristan Leyds, 14 Grant Hermanus, 13 Michal Hazner, 12 Joshua Stander, 11 Duncan Saal, 10 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Luke Stringer (captain), 7 Johan du Toit, 6 Jaco Coetzee, 5 Gary Porter, 4 Ernst van Rhyn, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Dean Muir, 1 Ali Vermaak.
Replacements: 16 Chad Solomon, 17 Kwenzo Blose, 18 Neethling Fouche, 19 Steph de Wit, 20 Nama Xaba, 21 Labib Kannemeyer, 22 Dan Kriel.