Having fielded a largely untried WP XV selection against the Pumas last weekend, Dobson has recalled most of his first-choice players for Saturday’s meeting.
Squad captain Juan de Jongh will team up with national skipper Jean de Villiers in midfield, with powerhouse flank Rynhardt Elstadt named at No 6 upon his return from a leg injury which saw him miss most of the 2015 Super Rugby season.
“It’s great to have Juan take charge and to welcome back Rynhardt Elstadt,” Dobson told the WP Rugby website.
“(Prop) JP Smith and (backs) Louis Schreuder, Johnny Kotze and Dillyn Leyds were not considered due to their niggles, which, fortunately, are not of a long-term nature, whilst (hooker) Mikey Willemse, as we know, picked up an injury last weekend which will see him out for eight to ten weeks.”
Oli Kebble, Bongi Mbonambi and Entienne Swanepoel will pack down in the front row, with Jean Kleyn and Ruan Botha forming an exciting second row combination and Springbok Nizaam Carr, WP’s new vice-captain, returning at No 8.
Looking at the rest of the team, with Sikhumbuzo Notshe and Kobus van Wyk the only players retained in the starting line-up from last weekend, Dobson explained: “Our plan was always to play a lot of the guys who wore heavy loads in Super Rugby and even in this game we will manage their game time.
“We have worked hard this week, possibly too much for a match week, but it’s important that we work back from our first game on August 7 as our main goal and not get too trapped into focusing solely on friendlies.
“Look, it’s a strong side and not far off our best available one and we want to see progress in the departments that we have been working on in the past few weeks,” added Dobson. “Every team seems to be talking about how they want to change how they play. Ours is more focused on getting better at what we do rather than some revolution.”
The WP squad is currently in Plettenberg Bay, having spent the past few days on a mini pre-season camp ahead of their second – and final – pre-season friendly.
“It’s been a good camp; there’s been some hard work and quite a few laughs,” said Dobson.
“It’s a happy group but it has to be reflected in how they play, defend and clean breakdowns for each other. I hope to see signs of that on Saturday.”
Western Province will open their 2015 Currie Cup campaign on Friday, August 7 against the winners of the Currie Cup qualifying tournament (either Griquas or the Leopards).
15 Scott van Breda, 14 Sylvian Mahuza, 13 JP du Plessis, 12 Marlou van Niekerk, 11 Luther Obi, 10 George Whitehead, 9 Enrico Acker, 8 Tim Agaba, 7 Stefan Willemse, 6 Paul Schoeman, 5 Cornell Hess, 4 Steven Sykes (captain), 3 Maks van Dyk, 2 Martin Ferreira, 1 Lizo Gqoboka
Substitutes: 16 Albe de Swardt, 17 Schalk Ferreira, 18 Simon Kerrod, 19 Tazz Fuzani, 20 Jacques Engelbrecht, 21 Luke Watson, 22 Cameron Lindsay, 23 Kevin Luiters, 24 Karlo Aspeling, 25 Siviwe Soyizwapi, 26 Ronnie Cooke, 27 Tim Whitehead
15. Cheslin Kolbe, 14. Kobus van Wyk, 13. Juan de Jongh (captain), 12. Jean de Villiers, 11. Seabelo Senatla, 10. Demetri Catrakilis, 9. Nic Groom, 8. Nizaam Carr, 7. Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 6. Rynhardt Elstadt, 5. Ruan Botha, 4. Jean Kleyn, 3. Entienne Swanepoel, 2. Bongi Mbonambi, 1. Oli Kebble
Substitutes: (from): 16. Chad Solomon, 17. Ali Vermaak, 18. Wilco Louw, 19. Chris van Zyl, 20. Justin Benn, 21. Rayn Smid, 22. Jano Vermaak, 23. Kurt Coleman, 24. Jaco Taute, 25. Huw Jones, 26. Godlen Masimla, 27. EW Viljoen
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