DHL Western Province young unit for Boland Cavaliers

Coach John Dobson has selected a powerful young unit for 2015 Vodacom Cup campaign against Boland Cavalier in Caledon on Saturday.

Hooker Michael Willemse will lead DHL Western Province into battle.

Joining Willemse in the mix are flyhalf Ryno Eksteen, No.8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, flanker Jurie van Vuuren, props Wilco Louw and Sti Sithole and reserve hooker Neil Rautenbach – all of whom have played for the DHL Stormers before.

However, there are nine players under the age of 21 in the matchday 22, whilst the likes of Willy Ambaka, Mat Turner, Eksteen, Jacques Vermeulen, Chris van Zyl, David Ribbans, Louw, Frans van Wyk, Luke van der Smit, SP Ferreira, Jean-Luc du Plessis and Tshotsho Mbovane are all set to make their first senior appearances for DHL WP.

“It’s an exciting team, probably the youngest we have fielded at this level with five players who were Under-19 last year,” Dobson told when explaining his selection.

“Certainly, there are some players well worth watching… the backline, in particular, has real strike-power throughout. (Centre) Pat Howard has been good as a player and a leader since his return from a loan spell at Munster and he is the vice-captain. The loss of Robert du Preez (with an ankle injury) is a blow, but (fellow flyhalf) Jean-Luc du Plessis has really made an emphatic statement in training and has real x-factor.

“We also have a big pack of forwards – it must be if someone of Jacques Vermeulen’s size is at No.6 – but there is a good work ethic across the board and we’re just looking forward to getting our season underway.”

DHL Western Province will head to Caledon to take on their partners in the DHL Stormers franchise and Dobson is expecting a big tussle – as always.

He said: “We are well aware of the threat Boland pose. This is their derby, their big game and has the hallmarks of a bit of an ambush. But it can only be an ambush if we are taken by surprise or if we are complacent, especially given the pre-season game.

“But, really, there is no danger of that – we will not under-estimate our opponents. We know what we are in for at the Caledon RFC ground and know that Boland will be in our faces, but if we can keep our focus and stick to the plan, we can hopefully play some attractive, winning rugby.”

The Province Vodacom Cup squad spent most of last week on their annual pre-season camp in Hermanus, having played two warm-up matches – against Sir Lowrians and the SWD Eagles – beforehand.

“We had a fantastic camp in Hermanus last week. The players worked really hard, but most importantly started coming together nicely as a team,” said Dobson.


“Some players have to naturally get over their disappointment of not being part of the DHL Stormers mix, for whom every player in this region should aspire to play for. We have had a short space of time to build a team, but there is no doubt that the honour of playing in the Blue & White stripes has a wonderful galvanising effect.”

DHL Western Province team

  1. EW Viljoen
  2. Willy Ambaka
  3. Pat Howard (vice-captain)
  4. Kyle Lombard
  5. Mat Turner
  6. Ryno Eksteen
  7. Godlen Masimla
  8. Sikhumbuzo Notshe
  9. Jurie van Vuuren
  10. Jacques Vermeulen
  11. Chris van Zyl
  12. David Ribbans
  13. Wilco Louw
  14. Michael Willemse (captain)
  15. Sti Sithole




  1. Neil Rautenbach
  2. Frans van Wyk
  3. Luke van der Smit
  4. Rayn Smid
  5. SP Ferreira
  6. Jean-Luc du Plessis
  7. Tshotsho Mbovane

Referee: Jaco Pretorius

Assistant referees: Jabian Jeftha, Local