WP’s Dob­son wants more from ex­cit­ing Au­gus­tus

Pretoria News Weekend - - SPORT - WYNONA LOUW

CAPE TOWN: In the build-up to West­ern Prov­ince’s Cur­rie Cup opener against the Free State Chee­tahs to­day (5.15pm kick-off), coach John Dob­son said they’re not de­fend­ing their ti­tle but rather try­ing to win it.

Dob­son ex­plained that only seven or eight play­ers in his cur­rent squad were part of the team that won the do­mes­tic com­pe­ti­tion in Dur­ban last year. That’s a big dif­fer­ence. But just like last sea­son, Prov­ince will kick off their cam­paign against the Chee­tahs af­ter com­ing off a bye, while the Free State team played in Round One both last year and this sea­son. Un­like last year, the vis­i­tors didn’t man­age to get their sea­son off to a win­ning start this time, and in­stead suf­fered a 34-12 de­feat to the Blue Bulls in Bloem­fontein.

The New­lands clash is a mas­sively im­por­tant one for WP, given that there is only a sin­gle round of matches this sea­son‚ with only three home games. So ev­ery match counts.

And while WP don’t have their en­tire Cup-win­ning team avail­able, Dob­son trusts his side to make the most of their chances.

The WP coach ex­pressed his ex­cite­ment about the 2017 World Rugby Un­der-20 Cham­pi­onship Player of the Tour­na­ment, Juarno Au­gus­tus.

The pow­er­ful back-rower hasn’t had luck on his side over the past year or so as he has been plagued by a num­ber of in­juries.“Hope­fully this year, touch wood, sees the proper un­veil­ing of Trokkie (Au­gus­tus),” Dob­son said.

“We see how well he did in the U20s. He is such a phys­i­cal beast and good ball-car­rier, we played him as much as we could in France. I hope he steps up to se­nior level prop­erly now.

“If you looked at Billy Vu­nipola’s GPS stats they would be ap­palling,” Dob­son said when was asked about his like­ness to the Eng­land No8. “Trokkie wouldn’t be like that, but he still has the same im­pact in a ball-car­ry­ing way as Billy. He is a big-car­rier and hit­ter.

“We have been work­ing on his line-out skills be­cause when he was at U20 he wasn’t re­ally a line-out for­ward, but he is im­prov­ing there, which is re­ally ex­cit­ing for his fu­ture.”

Au­gus­tus’ se­lec­tion at the back of the scrum sees Sikhum­buzo Not­she start at open­side flank.

While rangy, skill and fleet­foot­ed­ness come to mind when one thinks of the four-cap Bok, Dob­son said it’s his ris­ing phys­i­cal­ity which he’s keen to see in the cur­rent loose-for­ward com­bi­na­tion.

“Not­she, in the na­tional frame, is prob­a­bly a No8 but he was so good in the Cur­rie Cup fi­nal at No 6 for us and he im­pressed with the way he worked in Su­per Rugby,” Dob­son said.

“His work ethic and phys­i­cal­ity are im­prov­ing all the time.”

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