Jean de Villiers seems set for a return to Vodacom Super 14 action after a two-week absence due to injury when the Vodacom Stormers tackle the Highlanders at Newlands on Saturday.
Other good news for Stormers supporters is that Marius Joubert is set for a return from the bench. The Springbok centre was out of action for several months due to a lower back injury.
He was due for a return in last Friday’s game against the Brumbies, but sustained a light injury during training and had to postpone his comeback with another week. Joubert will be on the substitutes’ bench.
With De Villiers returning in midfield, it means Gus Theron who did duty at outside centre last weekend, moves to wing in place of Jonghi Nokwe. Nokwe loses his place in the match 22.
De Villiers missed the last two games due to a groin injury sustained in training.
The Stormers are wary of the scrumming power of the Highlanders pack. Therefore Hanyani Shimange returns at hooker in place of the livewire Schalk Brits.
Shimange started the first game, but was on the bench for the next two. Coach Kobus van der Merwe explained the move as follows: “We expect the Highlanders to use their heavy pack and the match will be played at a slower tempo.
“A lot of the game will take place around the rucks, while Shimmy will also give us a bit more weight in the scrums. If we want to increase the tempo in the second half or if the Highlanders become tired, we will send Schalk on as an impact player.”
Another change to the pack seems unavoidable, with lock Andries Bekker being given only a slim chance to recover in time for the match. The lanky lock torn an abdominal muscle against the Brumbies and is bracketed with Henk Eksteen.
Van der Merwe said Bekker has until captain’s run on Friday to prove his fitness, but admitted he hasn’t got much hope of the player being fit.
If Eksteen gets promoted to the starting XV, Gerrie Britz will come in on the bench.
Vodacom WP plays the Wildebeeste at 14h15 in a Vodacom Cup curtain raiser.
The Vodacom Stormers team is as follows:
15. Werner Greeff
14. Rayno Benjamin
13. De Wet Barry (C)
12. Jean De Villiers
11. Gus Theron
10. Peter Grant
9. Bolla Conradie
8. Adri Badenhorst
7 Schalk Burger
6. Luke Watson
5. Andries Bekker / Henk Eksteen
4. Ross Skeate
3. Eddie Andrews
2. Hanyani Shimange
1. JD Moller
16. Schalk Brits
17. Neil Fullard
18. Henk Eksteen / Gerrie Britz
19. Justin Melck
20. Neil De Kock
21. Naas Olivier
22. Marius Joubert.