Springbok flank Schalk Burger will captain the DHL Stormers in Saturday’s all-South African Vodacom Super Rugby Derby at DHL Newlands (kick-off 17h05), whilst SA Sevens speedster Seabelo Senatla has been named on the bench.
Burger missed his team’s 21-19 win over the Sharks at the end of May with a neck injury but he took a full part in the Springboks’ June Test Series against the World XV, Wales and Scotland and makes a welcome return for the DHL Stormers this week.
The return of Burger in the No.7 jersey is one of six changes to the starting line-up that did duty against the Sharks – three of them being positional. The positional switches see Juan de Jongh (outside centre to inside centre) and Sailosi Tagicakibau (left wing to outside centre) team up in the midfield, with Cheslin Kolbe moving from the right wing to left wing.
There are also three new faces on the bench in the form of the fit-again pairing of hooker Tiaan Liebenber and scrumhalf Louis Schreuder, whilst SA Sevens and former SA Under-20 ace Seabelo Senatla comes in for his first taste of Super Rugby.
Senatla will be available for the DHL Stormers for the next two weeks, having signed a twin deal with WP Rugby and SA Rugby, before he joins up with the South African team for the Commonwealth Games later this month.
Last, but certainly not least, DHL Newlands crowd favourite Gio Aplon will make his return to action from a dislocated elbow in the No.14 jersey. Aplon – who will leave for France after the Super Rugby season – has not played since injuring his elbow against the Reds on March 29.
DHL Stormers coach Allister Coetzee told www.iamastormer.com: “An injury to Kobus van Wyk (calf muscle) has opened the door for us to select Seabelo Senatla – it’s an exciting selection for us and the player.
“At the same time Gio Aplon’s return is timely and he will slot back into the wing position and provide the necessary experience for youngsters like Seabelo and Cheslin Kolbe to flourish around him.
“Juan de Jongh will be closer to the action at No.12, but we’re also excited to see how Sailosi Tagicakibau goes at outside centre. He has played there for London Irish and has trained well this week and gives us an extra attacking force in our backline.”
The DHL Stormers lost 12-28 to the Bulls in Pretoria on May 10 the last time these two sides met (the Stormers’ only Super Rugby defeat that month), and Coetzee added: “Stormers-Bulls games are always hard-fought and memorable encounters and this will be no different.
“Both teams have come off a break and both sides have had players playing for the Springboks, but you don’t have to ask any player twice to get himself up for a game of this nature!”
A big crowd is expected on Saturday but match tickets are still available – standing tickets are priced at just R50 each, with seating places ranging from R80 to R130.
Tickets are available from PostNet outlets nationwide, selected Spar stores in the Western Cape or online from wprugby.ticketpros.co.za.
* Supporters are also reminded of Saturday’s DHL Stormers Blanket Drive. Bring along a blanket to DHL Newlands and drop it in one of our blanket bins which will be delivered to charity next week – you can make a difference this winter!
The DHL Stormers team for Saturday (v the Bulls) is as follows:
15. Jaco Taute
14. Gio Aplon
13. Sailosi Tagicakibau
12. Juan de Jongh
11. Cheslin Kolbe
10. Kurt Coleman
9. Nic Groom
8. Duane Vermeulen
7. Schalk Burger (captain)
6. Nizaam Carr
5. Ruan Botha
4. Michael Rhodes
3. Pat Cilliers
2. Deon Fourie
1. Alistair Vermaak
16. Tiaan Liebenberg
17. Sti Sithole
18. Martin Dreyer
19. Manuel Carizza
20. Siya Kolisi
21. Louis Schreuder
22. Peter Grant
23. Seabelo Senatla (On Super Rugby debut for the DHL Stormers)
Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)