WP sweating on 'influential' Vermaak ahead of Currie Cup semis

Jano Vermaak (Gallo)
Jano Vermaak (Gallo)

Cape Town - They are safely through to the semi-finals of this year's Currie Cup and are undefeated in the 2018 competition, but Western Province may have to go into next weekend's match at Newlands without the services of scrumhalf Jano Vermaak

The 33-year-old was on Thursday left out of the side to take on the Blue Bulls at Loftus this weekend, with coach John Dobson confirming that he was suffering from a cracked bone in his hand. 

While nothing is guaranteed just yet, WP are expected to finish 1st on the log and secure a home semi-final and, potentially, a home final as they look to defend their Currie Cup crown. 

There is a good chance that next weekend will dish up a rematch of sorts, with WP hosting the Blue Bulls at Newlands in one of the semi-finals. 

And, addressing media after announcing his team for this weekend's Loftus trip, Dobson acknowledged that Vermaak's availability for the semi-finals was not guaranteed.

"He cracked a bone in his hand against the Sharks and he will only be back either next week or, if there is a week after, a week after," Dobson said.

"He's probably one of the most influential and popular guys in the team and he's a good scrumhalf ... a very good player."

In Vermaak's absence, 22-year-old Herschel Jantjies gets a run and Dobson believes that he is a very similar player to Vermaak despite the 11-year age difference.

"Herschel is almost like a mini-version in their approach, how they play, their support lines and even the distances they run, so it's quite nice having a like-for-like scrumhalf come in."

By the time WP play on Saturday, they will know what they need to do to secure top spot on the log. 

The Sharks, currently 2nd on the log, are four points behind WP and can go top with a bonus point win over Griquas earlier on Saturday. 

Dobson is expecting that to happen, and with rain expected in Pretoria over the weekend, WP might struggle to employ the attacking brand of ball-in-hand rugby that they have done so fr in the campaign.

"What's interesting is that it's down for 13 mm of rain at Loftus and that could change things," he said.

"Obviously four tries are important to us, so those conditions could make it a bit more of slugfest than we'd like it to be."

Kick-off is at 17:15

Teams:

Blue Bulls

15 Divan Rossouw, 14 Jamba Ulengo, 13 Johnny Kotze, 12 Franco Naude, 11 Jade Stighling, 10 Manie Libbok, 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Hanro Liebenberg (captain), 7 Marco van Staden, 6 Ruan Steenkamp, 5 Eli Snyman, 4 Hendre Stassen, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Matthys Basson Substitutes: 16 Edgar Marutlulle, 17 Dayan van der Westhuizen, 18 Ruan Nortje, 19 Nic de Jager, 20 Embrose Papier, 21 Tinus de Beer, 22 Dylan Sage

Western Province

15 Dillyn Leyds, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Ruhan Nel, 12 Dan du Plessis, 11 SP Marais, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Ernst van Rhyn, 6 Kobus van Dyk, 5 JD Schickerling, 4 Chris van Zyl (captain), 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Ali Vermaak.

Substitutes: 16 Chad Solomon, 17 Caylib Oosthuizen, 18 Neethling Fouche, 19 Salmaan Moerat, 20 Jaco Coetzee, 21 Paul de Wet, 22 Josh Stander

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England 219
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England 219
Pakistan 326 & 137/8 (44 ov)
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