Western Province coach John Dobson explains Herschel Jantjies's absence

03 December 2020 - 16:09
Western Province head coach John Dobson.
Western Province head coach John Dobson.
Image: Chris Ricco/BackpagePix

It wasn't poor form that cost Herschel Jantjies his place in the Western Province squad for this week's clash against the Golden Lions at Ellis Park.

Western Province‚ according to their coach John Dobson‚ are in fact rotating players in a selection move that had been planned two weeks back.

“We have three really similar scrumhalves in Herschel (Jantjies)‚ Godlen (Masimla) and Paul (de Wet)‚” Dobson told a virtual media briefing.

“I am acutely aware we haven’t been giving enough rugby to the latter two‚” said Dobson.

It had been speculated that Jantjies' absence was as a result of a loss of form and that changes needed to be made in the aftermath of Western Province's defeat to the Blue Bulls at Newlands last Saturday.

While Jantjies may not have set the world on fire with his form this year‚ he remains a potent weapon in the Western Province armoury.

Dobson explained how he will be rotating players over the next week or so.

“Paul and Herschel will play next week (against the Pumas at Newlands).

“We couldn’t go back on it (rotation plans) just because we didn’t get the result we wanted against the Bulls.”

The cause for almost as much debate was Dobson's decision to move Damian Willemse to fullback and elevate Tim Swiel from the bench to flyhalf.

“Warrick (Gelant) won’t be back for a long time (six to nine months)‚ so Tim has an opportunity to have a run at No 10 for a while.

“The injury to Warrick is a blow to us. He will be sidelined for about six months – maybe a big longer‚ but hopefully only six months. The next fullback in the group is Tristan Leyds. He is still in a development phase.”

Willemse has copped flak for his performances at flyhalf this season but Dobson stuck by the player who had shown better form towards the tail end of Super Rugby Unlocked. Moving him to fullback is somewhat of a disruption to that process but that's where the team now needs him, the coach said.

“Damian has played Test rugby at No 15. It is not new for him. Tim Swiel has done really well when he has come on for us this season. He is a really good game manager.”

Dobson also made changes in the centres, where Ruhan Nel now partners Dan du Plessis.

“Ruhan Nel has been our top No 13 and coming back from a long-term injury. He came off the bench (against the Blue Bulls) and this week he starts.

“Dan du Plessis and Rikus Pretorius took knocks last week. Rikus is the more bruised of the two and we will rotate those guys over the next two weeks‚” explained Dobson.

Western Province team to play the Golden Lions: Damian Willemse; Seabelo Senatla; Ruhan Nel; Dan du Plessis; Angelo Davids; Tim Swiel; Godlen Masimla; Juarno Augustus; Ernst van Rhyn; Siya Kolisi (captain); JD Schickerling; Salmaaan Moerat; Frans Malherbe; Bongi Mbonambi; Steven Kitshoff.

Substitutes (from): Scarra Ntubeni; Ali Vermaak; Neethling Fouche; David Meihuizen; Marcel Theunissen; Johan du Toit; Paul de Wet; Tristan Leyds; Jaco Coetzee; Kade Wolhuter; Rikus Pretorius.


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