Gert Smal, coach of the Investec Stormers, today announced his team to play the Sharks in the opening match of the Vodacom Super 12. The game is at Newlands on Friday 25 February and kick-off is at 19h10.
Jean de Villiers will make his long awaited Super 12 debut for the Stormers on Friday night after missing last season due to injury. The Springbok utility back will turn out at the wing after Zimbabwean speedster Tonderai Chavhanga was ruled out due to a knee injury.
De Villiers joked that he still had two training sessions left. “Hopefully I will make it through those and will make my debut on Friday.”
The exciting player said he doesn’t mind being on the outside of Springbok midfielders De Wet Barry and Marius Joubert in his first Super 12 game. Asked how he felt about the standard of the competition, he said it is a very exciting competition.
“It might be a bit faster than test rugby and it is the type of game that would definitely suit my style of play. I am happy to be making my debut and don’t mind where I play. I am just happy to be in the starting lineup and hope to put up a good performance.”
Captain Neil de Kock said he was hoping that the team would do better than last year. “Last year went pretty well for us. I think we have good depth in the squad, not only in certain positions, but in all positions really.
“We really worked hard during the off-season – some guys had a longer off-season than others – but I believe that we are looking to do well and perform consistently. I think we had the problem over the past two seasons that we put up three good performances and then one poor one.
“We got to perform week in and week out. It all starts on Friday. It is important that we are off to a good start before we head overseas.”
Coach Gert Smal said the squad will depart for Australia and New Zealand with a squad of 26 players. “When we go overseas we will have a squad of 26, but with Schalk (Burger) playing the Tsunami match next week, we are allowed to take one player extra.
“That player must, however, return upon Schalk’s arrival in Australia.”
Former Sharks flank Luke Watson will be making his Stormers debut against his former team-mates, while Faan Rautenbach is also back in black after his stint in Johannesburg last season. Former Cats lock Gerrie Britz is another who will be making his debut on Friday night.
Investec Stormers: 15. Werner Greeff, 14. Breyton Paulse, 13. Marius Joubert, 12. De Wet Barry, 11. Jean De Villiers, 10. Gaffie Du Toit, 9. Neil De Kock (captain), 8. Joe Van Niekerk (V/C), 7. Schalk Burger, 6. Luke Watson, 5. Gerrie Britz, 4. Quinton Davids, 3. Faan Rautenbach, 2. Pieter Dixon, 1. Eddie Andrews. Reserves: 16. Hanyani Shimange, 17. Riaan Olckers, 18. Rob Linde, 19. Adri Badenhorst, 20. Bolla Conradie, 21. Gus Theron, 22. Tiger Mangweni.