Wilco Louw blow for Western Province‚ but not for SA
Western Province coach John Dobson admitted that losing tighthead Wilco Louw‚ who was called up to the Springboks on Sunday‚ is a blow for his team but also a massive honour for the front row strongman.
Louw‚ 23‚ has been one of the breakthrough players of the season and was the cornerstone of a Stormers pack that never took a backwards step in Super Rugby.
That trend continued into the Currie Cup with WP.
Louw joined the Boks in New Zealand as a replacement for Coenie Oosthuizen‚ who suffered a broken arm in last week’s 23-23 draw against Australia in Perth.
“Wilco has been outstanding this year and if I’m honest‚ it’s a blow for us as a team‚” Dobson said.
“But at the same time‚ it’s great for him as a player.
“But having said that I’ve been pleased with Michael Kumbirai’s progress during the campaign and this creates an opportunity for him.
“I know we didn’t play against the strongest Cheetahs team last Saturday [WP won 57-14]‚ but Michael still scrummed really well in that game.
"We took Wilco off at halftime to make sure Michael had an extended run.
“So it’s an opportunity but at the same time it’s a challenge because statistically our scrum is the best in the tournament.”
Dobson has no doubt that if given the chance‚ Louw will make the step up to Test rugby comfortably‚ although the coach believes he still has some improving to do.
“In terms of scrumming Wilco is up there with the best‚ there is no question about that‚” Dobson said.
“But even by his own admission‚ the challenge in his game is general movement.
“He was excellent in that facet for the Stormers‚ but then he had a knee injury and he’s only just started to find that same form again.
"If he gets that right he will become a top quality international forward.
“Tightheads normally mature in their late 20s but Wilco is only 23.
"At the start of the year he kept Frans Malherbe out of the starting lineup at the Stormers and he was one of the best scrummagers in Currie Cup‚ so his call-up is deserved.”
WP take on the Pumas in Nelspruit on Friday evening.