Western Province coach Allister Coetzee has admitted that his decision to play all his Boks this weekend was motivated primarily by the threat of relegation.
Coetzee's side will qualify for the semifinals if they manage to beat the Cheetahs at Newlands on Saturday, but defeat could see them end at the bottom of the Currie Cup standings which would mean a home and away promotion/relegation play-off with the winners of the first division.
Although many of his senior Springboks have played flat-out all year, Coetzee said that he had no option but to pick the strongest team available to him given the threat of claiming a particularly painful Wooden Spoon.
"It is no secret that Jean [De Villiers] and Bryan [Habana] have continously played this year and normally after a campaign we take stock and take it from there.
"There is a reality that we might have to play promotion/relegation and if you have these Springboks at your disposal why not use them?
"Western Province rugby and promotion/relegation doesn't match so it is important," he said.
The Western Province coach said that the impact that his Boks will have is likely to outweigh any serious risk of disrupting the team at this late stage of the competition and expressed confidence that the players will not lack motivation.
"There are always risks, whatever decision you make there will always be pros and cons, but I think the best result for us will be to play our Springboks this weekend.
"It is almost like our Stormers group together again and we have spoken about how we feel in the changerooms after losing as a group, so life gives you another opportunity.
"It is great to know that these players are keen to do well for their province still and there is still a chance that we can get to the play-offs and even further so that is really positive," he said.
Coetzee explained that with the players contracted to their unions there really is no other way of going about it, even though more game-time increases the chances of the top players breaking down.
"I know from a national perspective it might be viewed differently but that is the way the contracting system works and the players belong to their unions at this point in time so until that changes maybe we will get the right balance there," he said.
Springbok captain De Villiers, who will not train until Friday as he manages a hamstring tweak picked up last week, said that as players they really have no option but to do as instructed by their employers.
"I don't think it is really relevant what the players feel, I think those are the decisions that the administrators make and we are contracted to the union and some of us to SA Rugby and when you are needed for one of those teams you step up and do it.
"As long as that decision lies with the unions we don't have anything and it doesn't matter what we think or feel, we just need to carry on and do what is needed," he explained.
By Michael de Vries
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