Nothing fancy in Kimberley
Brent Janse van Rensburg is hardly the type of coach that allows complacency to creep in among his players.
Griquas might’ve secured a first semifinal appearance in the tournament since 1998, but they’re not guaranteed one at home.
Not only is such a game on home soil desirable for obvious reasons, a victory also means that they have momentum going into the knockouts – and that’s arguably even more important than simply playing in Kimberley.
To do that, they need to stick to a simple blueprint: the one that’s got them in this position.
Griquas play a pragmatic, counter-attacking brand of rugby similar to the one employed by the Springboks and it’s a winning recipe against an expansive but flaky team like the Lions.
It’s been shown time and again that a team that the men from Ellis Park lack the adaptability to counter opposing sides that dominate them physically and pin them back territorially.
And that’s exactly what this Peacock Blue vintage can do so well.
Griquas: Anthony Volmink, Ederies Arendse, Michal Haznar, Andre Swarts, Eduan Keyter, George Whitehead (c), Chriswill September, Niell Jordaan, Sias Koen, Gideon van der Merwe, Victor Sekekete, Ian Groenewald, Ewald van der Westhuizen, AJ le Roux, Mox Mxoli. Bench: Wilmar Arnoldi, MJ Oosthuizen, Johan Momsen, Conway Pretorius, Christiaan Meyer, Chris Smit, Bjorn Basson, Ruan Kramer.
Golden Lions: Tyrone Green, Madosh Tambwe, Wandi Simelane, Duncan Matthews, Stean Pienaar, Shaun Reynolds, Ross Cronje (c), Hacjivah Dayimani, Cyle Brink, Marnus Schoeman, Marvin Orie, Ruben Schoeman, Jacobie Adriaanse, Pieter Jansen, Sti Sithole. Bench: Jan-Henning Campher, Dylan Smith, Johannes Jonker, Wilhelm van der Sluys, Len Massyn, Dillon Smit, Jan-Louis la Grange, Jamba Ulengo.
Willemse’s ‘selfishness’ could benefit Province greatly
His last-ditch selection would arguably betray everything that’s made the Springbok camp such a harmonious place, but there seems to be a lot of noise over Damian Willemse still going to Japan.
Fortuitously, the gifted play-maker has Saturday’s showdown in Bloemfontein to – apparently – woo the national brains trust and that ties in perfectly with Western Province’s ambitions.
They need a win to stay in contention for the playoffs.
“He’s a special kid off the field,” said WP coach, John Dobson.
“He’s a deep thinker on the game so I don’t think he’s going to be too badly knocked if he isn’t in the World Cup squad, but he does want to make a point to the national selectors. In his mind he is still playing for a chance to be in the World Cup squad.”
Free State Cheetahs: Clayton Blommetjies, Darren Adonis, Benhard Janse van Rensburg, William Small-Smith, Tian Meyer (c), Tian Schoeman, Ruan Pienaar, Henco Venter, Abongile Nonkontwana, Junior Pokomela, Walt Steenkamp, Sintu Manjezi, Boan Venter, Joseph Dweba, Schalk van der Merwe. Bench: Jacques du Toit, Ox Nche, Aranos Coetzee, JP du Preez, Gerhard Olivier, Jasper Wiese, Dian Badenhorst/Dries Swanepoel, Louis Fouche.
Western Province: Dillyn Leyds, Sergeal Petersen, Ruhan Nel, Rikus Pretorius, SP Marais, Damian Willemse, Justin Phillips, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, JD Schickerling, Ernst van Rhyn, Chris van Zyl (c), Salmaan Moerat, Wilco Louw, Scarra Ntubeni, Corne Fourie. Bench: Chad Solomon, Kwenzo Blose, Neethling Fouche, Nama Xaba, Juarno Augustus, Paul de Wet, Jean-Luc du Plessis, Seabelo Senatla.
Battle of the discards
Given how superb his form has been in 2019 and how he made an accomplished international debut, it’s little wonder Lizo Gqoboka was praised by his Blue Bulls coach Pote Human this week for being “inspirational”.
As a result, there’s been a lot of focus on him being released from the World Cup training squad.
However, his direct counterpart is in the same boat, except that he’s been ignored relatively speaking because of a poor showing against Argentina last week.
Thomas du Toit was indeed on a hiding to nothing at Loftus.
Firstly, he was playing competitively for the first time in ages and, secondly, had to do so at loosehead when he’s been playing tighthead at Super Rugby level.
Both men, for differing reasons, have motivation to shine … and even outperform each other.
“We’ve got Thomas back and partnering Coenie (Oosthuizen), who’s been playing really well,” said Sharks coach Sean Everitt.
“That does give our front row quite an intimidating look. But the Bulls also have Lizo back, who’ll be tasked with lifting the standard of their scrumming again. It should be a good battle and one where we can get parity and even dominance.”
Blue Bulls: Divan Rossouw, Cornal Hendricks, Johnny Kotze, Dylan Sage, Rosko Specman, Manie Libbok, Ivan van Zyl (c), Tim Agaba, Wian Vosloo, Marco van Staden, Ruan Nortje, Andries Ferreira, Wiehahn Herbst, Johan Grobbelaar, Lizo Gqoboka. Bench: Corniel Els, Dayan van der Westhuizen, Conraad van Vuuren, Jean Droste, Ruan Steenkamp, Embrose Papier, Vaughen Isaacs, Stedman Gans.
Sharks: Aphelele Fassi, Kobus van Wyk, Jeremy Ward (c-c), Andre Esterhuizen, Lwazi Mvovo, Boeta Chamberlain, Sanele Nohamba, Tera Mtembu (c-c), Jacques Vermeulen, Phepsi Buthelezi, Hyron Andrews, Ruben van Heerden, Coenie Oosthuizen, Kerron van Vuuren, Thomas du Toit. Bench: Dylan Richardson, Mzamo Majola, John-Hubert Meyer, Gideon Koegelenberg, Andisa Ntsila, Cameron Wright, Rhyno Smith, JP Pietersen.