Steven Kitshoff will captain the DHL Stormers in their historic Heineken Champions Cup debut match against ASM Clermont Auvergne at the Stade Marcel Michelin on Saturday.
Kitshoff will earn his 124th cap and draw level with fellow front row stalwart Frans Malherbe as the most-capped DHL Stormers when he leads the team out at 17h15 (SA time) on Saturday.
It will be the first time that Kitshoff has captained the DHL Stormers since lifting the Vodacom United Rugby Championship trophy at DHL Stadium in June. He is one of eight internationals in the starting line-up for the much-anticipated clash in Clermont-Ferrand.
Damian Willemse makes his return at fullback, with Samoan international Alapati Leuia on the wing in the only changes to the backline that did duty against Dragons RFC last week.
Kitshoff is joined by Springbok hooker Joseph Dweba in the front row, while there is an all-new lock pairing of Salmaan Moerat and Gary Porter.
Deon Fourie and Ernst van Rhyn will be on the flanks, with Hacjivah Dayimani at No.8.
The replacements bench features a good blend of youthful talent and experienced heads in Ali Vermaak and Clayton Blommetjies.
DHL Stormers Head Coach John Dobson said that his team are focused on making a strong start to the tournament.
“This is a big moment for the team and the players understand that we have an opportunity to show people what we are all about.
“We are up against a decorated side at a renowned venue, which is ideal really for our introduction to the Heineken Champions Cup. We can’t wait to get going,” he said.
DHL Stormers: 15 Damian Willemse, 14 Alapati Leuia, 13 Ruhan Nel, 12 Dan du Plessis, 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Manie Libbok, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Hacjivah Dayimani, 7 Ernst van Rhyn, 6 Deon Fourie, 5 Gary Porter, 4 Salmaan Moerat, 3 Neethling Fouche, 2 Joseph Dweba, 1 Steven Kitshoff (captain).
Replacements: 16 Andre-Hugo Venter, 17 Ali Vermaak, 18 Sazi Sandi, 19 Ben-Jason Dixon, 20 Marcel Theunissen, 21 Junior Pokomela, 22 Paul de Wet, 23 Clayton Blommetjies.