The fringe players in the Vodacom Stormers squad get their chance to impress coach Kobus van der Merwe on Saturday when the Stormers tackle the Vodacom Bulls in their first warm-up game for the Super 14 at Newlands.
The coach reiterated this week that the squad of 35 that was announced earlier this week could still change as the season progresses. The door is still ajar for all the players, Van der Merwe said.
“Look, in terms of the rules of the competition we had to give 35 names to be registered with Sanzar, but that doesn’t mean we cannot look at anybody outside that 35 and draft them in and register them.
“However, the one thing that is certain is that because there is an extra franchise 35 more players were taken out of the equation, so it has depleted the pool of players quite significantly. There are not a lot of players available on the draft, but we are confident that the players we’ve got here are more than capable to handle the rigours of the competition.”
Van der Merwe said he more or less has an idea what the squad of 30 would look like. “We are not quite sure about one or two positions, but with the Springboks starting the game against the Spears it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to know that’s the type of starting lineup we are looking at.
“But we said to the players we won’t pick players that are not performing. The guys who are performing will be looked at first. It is a nice challenge for everyone to make sure they are there at kick-off time against the Cats.”
The coach said he doesn’t think a defeat to the Bulls would give them a psychological edge for when they meet in the competition proper.
“I honestly don’t believe we are fielding a below-strength team. If you ask me to choose between Shimmy and Schalk or between Justin Melck, Hendrik and Luke, there is very little to choose between these players.
“I just think we need to have a fair policy in place, where someone who is at that stage in the saddle must get the confidence of the coach and the benefit of the doubt,” he said.
“The competitor must fight for his place and lift the incumbent out of the saddle. I think that is fair and that will work for anyone that is in the team. I dont think it is an under-strength team we’re fielding. It is a bloody good team.
“They want to prove a point and I could see the buzz on the training field. I think the guys are going to do well on Saturday.”
Teams for Newlands:
Vodacom Stormers: Justin Peach, Egon Seconds, Piet Van Zyl, Gus Theron, Tonderai Chavahanga, Naas Olivier, Paul Delport, David Hendricks, Justin Melck, Hendrik Gerber, Gerrie Britz, Henk Eksteen, Attie Winter, Schalk Brits (captain), Dougie Wheatley. Reserves: Huia Edmonds, Tommy Dixon, Duimpie Theron, Mpho Mbiyozo, Charl Blom, Jacques Badenhorst / Sarel Potgieter, Johan Pietersen.
Vodacom Bulls: Marius Delport, Akona Ndungane, J P Nel, Dries Scholtz, Bryan Habana, Derick Hougaard, Neil Powell, Jacques Cronje, Danie Rossouw, Tim Dlulane, Francois van Schouwenburg, Bakkies Botha, Andries Human, Gary Botha (captain), Jaco Engels. Reserves: Chilliboy Ralepelle, Danie Thiart, Wessel Roux, Adriaan Fondse, Johan Wasserman, Heini Adams, Morne Steyn, Pierre Spies, Wyand Olivier, Rudi Coetzee, Danwell Demas.