No.8 Duane Vermeulen will captain the DHL Stormers in their Vodacom Super Rugby, Round Eight encounter against the Waratahs at DHL Newlands on Saturday night (kick-off 19h10).
The DHL Stormers are back at DHL Newlands for the first time since the end of February and Vermeulen will skipper a team showing four changes from last weekend’s five-point defeat in Brisbane.
Regular captain Jean de Villiers will sit out this week with a meniscal cyst, with Damian de Allende starting in his place at inside centre.
Kobus van Wyk will take De Allende’s place in the No.14 jersey, with Jaco Taute starting at fullback in place of the injured Gio Aplon and Michael van der Spuy moving onto the bench, having last featured against the Lions in February.
Up front, meanwhile, the fit-again Ruan Botha (ankle) takes the place of Jurie van Vuuren at No.4 lock in the only change to the pack this week, with Tazz Fuzani (on the bench) the only uncapped member of the DHL Stormers 23.
DHL Stormers coach Allister Coetzee told www.iamastormer.com: “Depth is crucial in this competition. Having Juan de Jongh back to full fitness, following his comeback from a pre-season knee injury, means that we can still field a formidable centre combination – with Juan and Damian – in Jean’s absence.
“Jean and other players will benefit from this two-week rest period, with next week being a bye, and more players will be returning after the brief break. Players like Scarra Ntubeni, Pat Cilliers, Schalk Burger and Cheslin Kolbe will all hopefully come into contention for selection (after the bye).”
Coetzee also paid tribute to incoming skipper Duane Vermeulen, who was a consistent performer for the team on their four-match tour of New Zealand and Australia.
“It’s scary to think that Duane is just 27 years old, yet he has already played 68 matches for the DHL Stormers and he continues to get better as a player and a leader,” he said.
“Players like Duane are the future of this union and it’s an exciting opportunity for him to lead the team as we look to get back to winning ways now that we’re back at home at DHL Newlands.”
The DHL Stormers and Waratahs have met on eight previous occasions at DHL Newlands, with the Stormers winning five times and the ‘Tahs winning twice. One match has been drawn (in 2008).
* Tickets for this weekend can be bought online at TicketPros, or from selected Spar stores or PostNet outlets. Ticket prices start at R50 for standing and R80 for seating.
The DHL Stormers team for Saturday (v the Waratahs) is as follows:
15. Jaco Taute
14. Kobus van Wyk
13. Juan de Jongh
12. Damian de Allende
11. Sailosi Tagicakibau
10. Peter Grant (vice-captain)
9. Louis Schreuder
8. Duane Vermeulen (captain)
7. Siya Kolisi
6. Nizaam Carr
5. Michael Rhodes
4. Ruan Botha
3. Frans Malherbe
2. Deon Fourie
1. Steven Kitshoff
16. Stephan Coetzee
17. Oliver Kebble
18. Brok Harris
19. Tazz Fuzani
20. Sikhumbuzo Notshe
21. Nic Groom
22. Demetri Catrakilis
23. Michael van der Spuy
Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)