Head coach Allister Coetzee has made five changes to the DHL Stormers team for Saturday evening’s clash against the Brumbies at DHL Newlands – all with a specific goal in mind.
Whilst the injury to Bryan Habana (knee) accounted for one of the five changes, Coetzee made four unforced changes – one of which sees fit-again Springbok centre Juan de Jongh return at outside centre.
The return of De Jongh – from a hamstring injury – sees skipper Jean de Villiers switch to inside centre (in the one positional change this week), with promising youngster Damian de Allende, who performed well against the Chiefs two weeks ago, dropping down to the bench.
“I have said before that we will look at rotation where we need it – taking into consideration who the opposition is and what they bring to the table,” explained Coetzee, after announcing his team earlier this week.
“Juan de Jongh is the right guy to face this big line-speed the Brumbies come with,” added the Stormers boss. “His experience also played a role (in selection), as well as how we want to play.
“Damien de Allende played very well against the Chiefs, but Juan, obviously, has been there and done it – he is a Springbok. But we know Damien is big and physical and he can still play a role off the bench (this week).”
De Jongh will make his first appearance of the season this Saturday, whilst experienced hooker Tiaan Liebenberg (in for Deon Fourie) and scrumhalf Dewaldt Duvenage (in for Nic Groom) will form part of the starting line-up for the first time in 2013.
Said Coetzee: “It’s hard for me to talk about what we expect Tiaan to bring. Let’s just say that we are expecting this game to be all about contests in every area, the Brumbies will want to compete for every ball, and we need to be ready for that. We are also expecting the game to go down to the wire, so we will need Deon Fourie’s impact later on.”
Aside from making his first start of 2013, with Groom having occupied the No.9 jersey up till now, Duvenage will also provide back-up to starting flyhalf Elton Jantjies in the absence of the injured Peter Grant (ankle), with Coetzee pointing out: “He has done that (covered No.10) before.
“Dewaldt’s an experienced player – there will be a lot of pressure this weekend and we want to make sure there is accuracy in the system. He’s played against the Brumbies before and he understand the heat and pressure we will be under, so hopefully with his experience he can handle that.
“He can make sure Elton Jantjies gets some support in terms of the tactical kicking as well and not all the kicking being done (just) by Elton. It’s his first start this season, but I’m pleased with his progress.”
Given the changes made to the DHL Stormers’ starting line-up this week, the bench is jam-packed with players able to make an impact – including fit-again Springbok back Jaco Taute who took a knock to his groin region against the Bulls in his team’s season-opener.
“Jaco has been out for a few weeks and as a team we have really moved on and we have evolved a bit,” said Coetzee, “I feel the right call is to play Jaco off the bench where he can also make an impact for us.”
* Tickets are still available for Saturday’s match and can be purchased at the DHL Newlands ticket office (right up until kick-off), PostNet outlets and, also, online at wprugby.ticketpros.co.za.