Promising flank Nama Xaba will captain Western Province when they kick off their Currie Cup campaign against the Lions at Cape Town Stadium tomorrow at 5pm.
In what will be Province’s first match in front of fans since 2019, coach Jerome Paarwater has named a strong team - even in the absence of the union’s groot sterre who are preparing for the United Rugby Championship with the Stormers.
Xaba will lead a team that features former Currie Cup-winning captain Deon Fourie on the bench.
One interesting choice in the starting XV is that of wing Leolin Zas at outside centre, with Paarwater opting for Angelo Davids and debutant Paschal Ekeji out wide.
Ekeji is one of two players who will make their Currie Cup debuts in the backline, with scrumhalf Thomas Bursey being the other.
Locks Adre Smith and Connor Evans will also run out for the first time in the Streeptrui as WP combined youth and experience.
Of his team selection, Paarwater says: “We have had good preparations leading up to this game, working closely with the Stormers squad, so we are looking forward to the challenge and to playing in front of a crowd again.
“We have a nice balance of youth and experience in the team, with four players in starting team making their debut and a few more on the bench, so it will be good to see what these combinations can do.”
The Currie Cup kicks off tonight, with the Pumas hosting the Bulls at 7pm, while the Cheetahs welcome Griquas at 2.30pm tomorrow.
Western Province: 15 Tristan Leyds, 14 Angelo Davids, 13 Leolin Zas, 12 Cornel Smit, 11 Paschal Ekeji, 10 Tim Swiel, 9 Thomas Bursey, 8 Hacjivah Dayimani, 7 Simon Miller, 6 Nama Xaba (captain), 5 Adre Smith, 4 Connor Evans, 3 Lee-Marvin Mazibuko, 2 Chad Solomon, 1 Kwenzo Blose. Replacements: 16 Jacques van Zyl, 17 Leon Lyons, 18 Sazi Sandi, 19 Keke Morabe, 20 Deon Fourie, 21 Godlen Masimla, 22 Chris Schreuder, 23 Mnombo Zwelendaba.