Experienced flanker Schalk Burger will captain a much-changed and young DHL Stormers team in Saturday’s all-South African Vodacom Super Rugby Derby against the Bulls in Pretoria (kick-off 19h10).
Coach Allister Coetzee has been forced into making six enforced changes to the starting line-up, with three players on debut in the matchday 23 – lock Jean Kleyn in the starting line-up and prop Alistair Vermaak and scrumhalf Dylon Frylinck on the bench.
There are also six new faces on the bench, with Steven Kitshoff (knee), Frans Malherbe (concussion), Oli Kebble (concussion), Jurie van Vuuren (shoulder), Michael Rhodes (assortment of knocks), Louis Schreuder (broken thumb), Jean de Villiers (AC Joint) and Kobus van Wyk (wrist) all dropping out with an assortment of injuries after last weekend’s 29-28 win over the Highlanders.
The new players in the selection mix, either on the bench or in the starting XV, are Kleyn, Pat Cilliers, Vermaak, Martin Dreyer, Stephan Coetzee, Frylinck, Michael van der Spuy and Devon Williams, with Peter Grant, Cheslin Kolbe and Brok Harris promoted from the bench to starting roles.
Debutant Kleyn will partner his WP Under-21 lock-mate from last year, Ruan Botha, in the second row, whilst UCT No.9 Dylon Frylinck was the first-choice scrumhalf for Western Province during the Vodacom Cup, having been promoted from the amateur ranks at the start of 2014.
Prop Vermaak – who is 25 years old – has been in the Province set-up for some time, but his game time has been limited to the Vodacom Cup only up until now.
Captain Burger, at 31, is the oldest player in the DHL Stormers squad to face the Bulls this week – a 23-man group with an average age of just over 24. Cheslin Kolbe, who will make his first Super Rugby start this week, is the baby of the team at 20.
“Yes, this is a young team,” agreed DHL Stormers coach Allister Coetzee, “but we have faith in the squad selected and every player has a chance to make an impact at one of the toughest venues in world rugby, Loftus Versfeld.
“We’ve been unlucky with injuries this week, you can’t prevent concussion or broken noses and the like, but, at the same time it’s an exciting moment for the likes of Jean Kleyn, Alistair Vermaak and Dylon Frylinck – all of whom will be on debut.”
The DHL Stormers team for Saturday (v the Bulls) is as follows:
15. Jaco Taute
14. Damian de Allende
13. Juan de Jongh
12. Peter Grant
11. Cheslin Kolbe (Super Rugby starting debut for the DHL Stormers)
10. Kurt Coleman
9. Nic Groom
8. Duane Vermeulen
7. Schalk Burger (captain)
6. Nizaam Carr
5. Ruan Botha
4. Jean Kleyn (On Super Rugby debut for the DHL Stormers)
3. Pat Cilliers
2. Scarra Ntubeni
1. Brok Harris
16. Stephan Coetzee
17. Alistair Vermaak (On Super Rugby debut for the DHL Stormers)
18. Martin Dreyer
19. Siya Kolisi
20. Deon Fourie
21. Dylon Frylinck (On Super Rugby debut for the DHL Stormers)
22. Michael van der Spuy
23. Devon Williams
Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)