Bongi Mbonambi. Picture: GALLO IMAGES/SHAUN ROY
Bongi Mbonambi. Picture: GALLO IMAGES/SHAUN ROY

CENTRE Juan de Jongh was a late release from the Springbok squad to answer an SOS from Western Province for Friday’s Currie Cup match against Griquas in Kimberley.

De Jongh was not one of the five players released formally by Bok coach Allister Coetzee on Monday‚ but after WP lost centre EW Viljoen to injury‚ a request was made.

Coach John Dobson put De Jongh and Bok hooker Bongi Mbonambi straight into the starting lineup for the crucial match.

Griquas occupy the fourth and final semifinal place on the standings with 19 log points. WP are fifth on 18 points‚ making this match a de facto quarterfinal‚ especially as WP’s final pool match is a home game against Boland where a victory should be a formality.

De Jongh will form a potentially salivating midfield pairing with Scottish international Huw Jones while Mbonambi ousts Mikey Willemse from the starting lineup with the latter dropping to the bench. Jones has scored six tries in the Currie Cup so far this season and is just one behind Bulls wing Jamba Ulengo.

Aside from the inclusion of De Jongh‚ the only other starting backline change is the inclusion of experienced scrumhalf Dewaldt Duvenage in his first start of the season. He comes in for the injured Godlen Masimla.

On the bench and providing cover‚ Jano Vermaak makes a timely return from injury.

In the pack‚ captain Chris van Zyl continues his successful lock combination with Jan de Klerk‚ while there is a shake-up in the loose trio, which sees Nizaam Carr shift to No8‚ Kobus van Dyk move to blindside flank and Rynhardt Elstadt return to the side at openside. David Ribbans (lock) and Jurie van Vuuren (loose forward) provide cover from the bench.

"We appreciate the importance of the game‚ and how hard this game traditionally is without the play-off pressure‚" coach John Dobson said.

"Griquas are very much in contention for a semifinal‚ and they will need to beat us‚ plus they are having their anniversary celebrations.

"But we probably have our best side that we have had this season at the right time of the season. Bongi and Juan are two unique characters‚ real warriors‚ who were very keen to play and contribute to the cause‚ given the injuries‚ which speaks volumes to their character. The whole team picked up energy from their presence.

"We know that Griquas will be physical‚ that they have massive line speed and will test us with some high balls. But I have confidence in both our plans and our players. The team is excited and keen to do the Province proud."

n Golden Lions coach Johan Ackermann has also taken advantage of the release of an international player by including hooker Malcolm Marx and fit-again prop Julian Redelinghuys in the starting lineup against the EP Kings.

Marx made his Test debut off the bench against the All Blacks in Christchurch last week.

The defending Currie Cup champions are sixth in the standings with two rounds to play. They have a mathematical chance of making the semifinals but need several results to go their way while securing a maximum 10 points from their last two matches against EP and the Sharks.

TMG Digital