Western Province will be without Springbok locks Eben Etzebeth and Pieter-Steph du Toit as well as centre Damian de Allende for this weekend’s Currie Cup semifinal clash against the Blue Bulls at Loftus.
The South African Rugby Union has decided not to release the centrally
contracted players, with Bongi Mbonambi and Juan de Jongh making their return to the High Performance Centre in Bellville yesterday.
And while coach John Dobson is confident in the players that are available for the Streeptruie — with Huw Jones, Dewaldt Duvenage, JD Schickerling and Oli Kebble all returning from injury, he believes they will enter the match as underdogs.
Dobson, whose side had to battle hard against Boland in their final league match to book a playoff spot, explains: “I’d have to be a quite a good salesman to market us as favourites.
“I’ve seen the odds and we’ve been written off everywhere for this game already.
“So, there’s no pressure on us.
“Nobody expects us to win, they’re playing in front of their home crowd, they’re playing with the tag of favourites — we beat them in Super Rugby, in the qualifiers, so there will be a lot of pressure on them to beat us.”
Another Springbok, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, also returned to training after a lengthy spell on the sidelines following an ankle injury, but Dobson won’t push him to play in the match.