The DHL Stormers will go to Johannesburg for their Super Rugby match against the MTN Lions with a side that includes four changes from the side that lost to the Reds last weekend.
One of those changes is a positional switch, with Gio Aplon moving from fullback to the wing as a replacement for the injured Bryan Habana. Springbok Conrad Jantjes returns from injury to take the No 15 jersey. That was an anticipated change, as was the one at lock, where De Kock Steenkamp comes in for Rynhardt Elstadt, who sustained a bruised muscle in the match against the Reds.
The interesting change comes at tighthead, where after a long sequence of matches where he was a fixture in the Stormers No 3 jersey, Brok Harris finally gets to sit one out to allow Springbok CJ van der Linde to return to his preferred position.
“CJ has done well for us as part of our substitution plan so far this season and has impressed at tighthead. We felt that Brok has played a lot of games in a row now and has had a busy season so this is a good time for us to make a change there,” said coach Allister Coetzee.
The scrums were one of the areas where the Stormers struggled against the Reds, and many of their fans will welcome the return of Van der Linde to the position where he has played most of his games for the Springboks.
“As a player you do want to start as often as possible but you have to fit into the team plan and it is a plan that has been working for much of the season,” said Van der Linde.
“I haven’t started for a while but the Stormers have a great conditioning staff so I don’t think there will be any problems with my fitness.”
Flyhalf Peter Grant was absent from the Wednesday morning training session but Coetzee said he would definitely be wearing the No 10 jersey on Saturday.
“Peter got a bit of a bump in training yesterday (Tuesday) and we felt it was wise to let him sit out a bit of the training,” said Coetzee.
The coach said that the condition of Elstadt and Habana was not serious but with a bye coming up the following week now was the right time to take a cautious approach.
Stormers team: Conrad Jantjes, Danie Poolman, Jaque Fourie, Juan de Jongh, Gio Aplon, Peter Grant, Dewaldt Duvenage, Duane Vermeulen, Francois Louw, Schalk Burger (captain), Andries Bekker, De Kock Steenkamp, CJ van der Linde, Deon Fourie, Wicus Blaauw.
Replacements: Ethienne Reynecke, Brok Harris, Anton van Zyl, Nick Koster, Enrico Januarie, Gary van Aswegen.