Springbok skipper Siya Kolisi will face the Pumas this weekend‚ but it is the Nelspruit-based variety in the Currie Cup and not the Argentinean version in the Rugby Championship.
Western Province head coach John Dobson declared that Kolisi was fit and cleared to play in the crucial Currie Cup match‚ which puts him in the frame to face the Argentinean Pumas in Pretoria on August 17.
Kolisi has been on the sidelines after sustaining a knee injury in the latter stages of Super Rugby‚ which has kept him out of the Rugby Championship.
But Kolisi should enjoy some game time for WP when they take on the Pumas at Newlands in a Currie Cup match on Friday evening.
Bok coach Rassie Erasmus‚ who is currently in Buenos Aires preparing for Saturday’s showdown with the Pumas in Salta‚ will be a relieved man that his skipper is ready to play.
Back home though WP are labouring in fourth on the standings after back-to-back losses to the Sharks and Lions and desperately need to beat the Pumas to stay alive.
“Siya is fit to play‚” Dobson said.
“I think our plan with Siya is to start him (against the Pumas). He will give the team a lot of confidence. That is the one thing the team needs.
“When you lose a game‚ no matter you have deserved to win it‚ the change room is like a mortuary afterwards. Just his presence will make a big difference. He won’t captain the side.”
Kolisi opted not to have surgery and instead take a conservative approach by keeping the knee in a brace and doing physio. It appears the decision has paid off.
Dobson also said that fullback/flyhalf Damian Willemse could be ready for their final Pool match against the Cheetahs after a lengthy knee injury lay-off.
If that does transpire‚ it would put Willemse in the frame as a late World Cup selection.
While playing this weekend is good news for Kolisi on a personal level‚ WP are wary of the Pumas.
The Pumas are on a high after thrashing the Sharks last weekend and are in fifth on the standings. They need another big scalp to climb into play-off position.
“The Pumas are playing slightly differently this year‚” Dobson said.
“They are playing with a lot more width. It’s not just about scrumhalf Stephan Ungerer launching the ball into the sky.
“We have to meet their big ball carriers off nine‚ which is been a good tactic for them. That brings us back to our aggression‚ which we lacked against the Lions.
“We have been stewing with a sense of frustration for the past two weeks because the Lions game was one we gave away. (WP had a bye last week.)
“But if we can get 15 points from our final three matches‚ we will be in a good position. But we have tough fixtures with away games against Griquas and the Cheetahs to come.
‘They are already talking about that game in Kimberley as the biggest for Griquas in 40 years.”