Western Province’s Currie Cup season is done and dusted after rivals the Blue Bulls knocked them out in the semis.
Here we break down their season and see who pulled their weight and who needs to step it up a notch.
Coach John Dobson
The coach has now had two years at the top. And Province unfortunately have taken a backwards step this year. Not only did they nearly fail to make the semifinal, there were a couple of near-misses throughout the season – most notably in their final league match at home to Boland which they won 30-28 thanks to a late Robert du Preez penalty.
Dobson did well with WP in the Qualifiers – leading the team to end unbeaten throughout the campaign. And maybe that’s where he should be used next year.
Province will have to decide if winning the Currie Cup is still a non-negotiable and depending on that answer, perhaps re-evaluate if Dobson is the man to take the team forward.
Cheslin Kolbe has made the second most metres in the tournament – 609.
But it wasn’t the best of seasons for the youngster – evident by his poor display against the Blue Bulls in the semis.
Province will be happy to get back a player like Dillyn Leyds from inury next year, as you get the feeling that Kolbe perhaps played too much rugby in 2016.
Wing Leolin Zas has future Springbok written all over him, while Sevens-convert Werner Kok showed that he can be a valuable asset on the right wing.
Kobus van Dyk did well, Nizaam Carr also showed some sort of return to form.
The problem throughout the season, though, was the lack of having an out-and-out ball hunter.
It is a rarity in South Africa at the moment, but the Province hierarchy will have to give Gert Smal a blank cheque to get a professional in if they want to win titles.
Chris van Zyl was an able leader of the Currie Cup team this year. But with their Bok duo Eben Etzebeth and Pieter-Steph du Toit unavailable and JD Schickerling injured, it was a bit of a second-rate lock combination that carried them through the season – with Van Zyl partnering Jan de Klerk.
They lacked the oomph of the Bulls’ RG Snyman and Marvin Orie.
Neither Juan de Jongh or Damian de Allende had much of an impact on the tournament. Up stepped Huw Jones to show that he is one of the most dangerous midfielders on attack currently playing in South Africa. Jonny Kotze, too, had a good game here and there.
But Province fans will probably not cry too many tears for losing him to the Blue Bulls as of next year, getting Dan Kriel in return.
The return of Dewaldt Duvenage was a welcome one, as the other scrumhalves have all been injury prone this year. But his display in the crunch match against the Blue Bulls last weekend was a worrying one for such an experienced campaigner.
At flyhalf, the jury was still out at the start of the season on who should take over from the injured Jean-Luc du Plessis.
But Robert du Preez answered that question with a rather decent season for Province. It will be interesting to see who will wear the Stormers’ No.10 jumper next year.
Province had problems in the front row this season. It led to them having to recall hooker Michael Willemse from the Kings. And with Scarra Ntubeni quite possibly out for a long time, WP will have to get decent backup for Bongi Mbonambi. They would be well suited to get a ball-carrying hooker in the mould of a Schalk Brits if they want to add some spice.