Currie Cup

Province trying to get Chris Jack to stay on

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Resurgent Western Province will have to do battle without their combative hooker Tiaan Liebenberg against the Blue Bulls in their Currie Cup rugby match at Newlands on Saturday.

Liebenberg, one of several players to have featured prominently in Province’s surge to the top of the  Currie Cup table, has been laid low by a knee injury sustained during the side’s 21-9 annihilation of the Sharks in Durban last week.

Province coach Alister Coetzee, said Liebenberg will need a two-week break from the game in order to regain full fitness.

Apart from his basic duties as the Province hooker, Liebenberg has often been at the heart of penetrative drives into opposition territory and was no slouch at linking up with his speedy backs when there were opportunities to spread the ball wide.

Deon Fourie has had very little taste of Currie Cup action, mainly because Province have been campaigning week in and week out with largely unchanged combinations and minimum substitutions.

But Fourie, who on occasions was used as a loose forward by the Stormers earlier this year, is a most capable replacement and should provide an equally fiery edge to the ever-improving Province pack, which has now shed its ‘light five’ image.

Hanyani Shimange is the most likely to provide the hooker’s cover on the reserves’ bench.

Fresh from their morale-boosting win over the reigning Currie Cup champions in Durban, Province will be looking to bag the scalp of the Blue Bulls in their quest to secure a home berth in the season-ending play-offs.

Province will be feeling quietly confident in the run-up to Saturday’s match after the Bulls were badly mauled by an untried Lions side last week.

They will also draw heart from the fact that they were impressive against the Bulls in their first-round meeting, even though they suffered a 30-22 defeat at Loftus last month.

There is also a concern in the Province camp about the looming departure of star lock acquisition, New Zealander Chris Jack, who has about three weeks left on his contract.

However, the injury to Springboks Andries Bekker, who was expected to return for province duty at about the same time as Jack’s departure, has forced Province to negotiate with the All Black to prolong his Cape Town so-journ.

As is customary at Monday training sessions, several players were on the sidelines nursing an assortment of niggles, which included flyhalf Peter Grant, whose abrasive style of play subjects the body to a battering, week in and week out.

The Province side to play the Bulls on Saturday will be announced after training at midday on Wednesday.

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