The objective of the so-called Preparation series ispartially to identify and develop young talent and also to give players outside the main franchise competitions the opportunity of some game time.
Game time will be crucial as the season wears on for the four franchises not taking part in the Rainbow Cup warm-up tournament followed by the PRO16 proper where South Africa’s top four franchises – Bulls, Sharks, Lions, Stormers – will pit their strength against the best Ireland, Wales, Scotland and Italy have to offer.
Meanwhile, the other four teams in the present preparation series – Cheetahs, Pumas, Griquas and Eastern Province – may have to consider another series among themselves as a way to prepare for the Currie Cup that will only be played in the second half of the year.
There are of course a number of top student players in the country who will have good competition in the Varsity Cup competition.
▲ It is with game time and finding the best youngsters in mind that the Stormers (or is it Western Province?) have decided against playing their best fifteen again against the Bulls on Friday in their Section A preparation match.
Lock Salmaan Moerat will captain Western Province at Loftus on Friday and is one of several “new” faces players to be given a run.
The former SA Schools captain is joined by two World Cup Springboks, Damian Willemse and Herschel Jantjies, with the latter starting on the bench.
Willemse is at fullback with wings Leolin Zas and Edwill van der Merwe the other members of the back three, while Rikus Pretorius comes into the midfield and Paul de Wet makes a start at scrumhalf.
Moerat will partner David Meihuizen in the second row and there is an all-new front row of Leon Lyons, Chad Solomon and Sazi Sandi.
There is also significant experience on the replacements bench, with the likes of JD Schickerling, Jantjies and Tim Swiel all getting their first run in the preparation matches.
15 Damian Willemse, 14 Edwill van der Merwe, 13 Ruhan Nel, 12 Rikus Pretorius, 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Kade Wolhuter, 9 Paul de Wet, 8 Juarno Augustus, 7 Ernst van Rhyn, 6 Marcel Theunissen, 5 David Meihuizen, 4 Salmaan Moerat (captain), 3 Sazi Sandi, 2 Chad Solomon, 1 Leon Lyons. Replacements (from): 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 Ali Vermaak, 18 Neethling Fouche, 19 JD Schickerling, 20 Johan du Toit, 21 Evan Roos, 22 Herschel Jantjies, 23 Tim Swiel, 24 Chris Schreuder, 25 Cornel Smit.
Kick-off is at 19:00 Friday.