‘It will be a great battle between Wilco and Thomas’
WESTERN PROVINCE coach John Dobson says he’s excited to see how Wilco Louw – who Dobson says has a lot more “swagger” since featuring for the Springboks – goes against the Sharks tomorrow (kickoff 3pm).
Province have been boosted by the return of Springboks Dillyn Leyds and Louw, and earlier this week the WP coach said that the duo havd added a lot to the team’s training sessions.
Louw’s inclusion will come in especially handy at scrum time against a Durban outfit who know just how to dominate the set-piece. “I’d be even more nervous if he (Louw) wasn’t around.”
“I thought he was outstanding for the Springboks last week. Him versus Thomas du Toit is going to be a great battle. He described that as the best day of his life. And you can just feel there’s a lot more confidence and swagger about him now. I’m excited to see that.”
And while Louw will bolster Province’s front row, Leyds will do the same for Province’s already fine backline.
Leyds will start on the wing in Durban, while Damian Willemse occupies the Bok’s regular fullback spot.
In other changes to the back six, Sevens recruit Ruhan Nel will start at inside centre while Huw Jones shifts to No 13.
Of his backline, Dobson said: “EW (Viljoen) has played every Super Rugby game and all Currie Cup games except the first. He’s got a couple of niggles and the Sharks are going to present a physical threat. Ruhan Nel played very well at 12 in the SuperSport Challenge, and we also want to give Huw Jones more space to attack.
Dobson also explained that given the Sharks’ style of play and the unfavourable weather conditions they are expecting in Durban, having Robert du Preez at flyhalf again and both Willemse and Leyds out wide would be a good plan to keep the Sharks’ kicking game in check.
“The Sharks are a very territory-based team, very good kicking game, and we felt that to have two fullbacks at the back there is a good thing. Also, we felt that Rob did well with the territory last week, and for a Damian or Rob to miss out wouldn’t have been the right thing at this stage.
“Dillyn can help a lot with the territory kicking game. He’s a fulback and he must return there, but for this game... the field is going to be very heavy, maybe we have a bit of rain and a howling wind. So the more guys we have that are comfortable with a kicking game, the better.
“Obviously Damian is the future, but we’ve got ourselves into a position where we have to play match for match, horses for courses. So that’s why we’ve gone with Rob, it might not be the same next week.
And with Du Preez set to join his father and brothers Jean-Luc and Dan at the Sharks, Dobson said that the move might galvanise Du Preez to perform even better.
PROPS WITH SWAGGER: Wilco Louw of Western Province, left, and Thomas du Toit of the Sharks are set for a front-row confrontation.