WP’s Dobson wants more from exciting Augustus
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.”