Coach Allister Coetzee has made five changes to the DHL Stormers team to take on the Cheetahs at Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein on Saturday (kick-off 17h05).
Of the five changes, one is positional, and two are injury-enforced after last week’s 14-19 defeat to the Crusaders; with prop Steven Kitshoff, flank Michael Rhodes, scrumhalf Nic Groom and fullback Jaco Taute all coming into the starting XV.
Kitshoff is back from his one-game suspension, whilst Rhodes and Taute replace Rynhardt Elstadt (shoulder) and Gerhard van den Heever (knee), respectively. Taute will line up at fullback, with Joe Pietersen shifting to the right-wing.
Rhodes will make his DHL Stormers debut in the No.7 jersey, having played for the Western Province Vodacom Cup team in recent weeks.
Two other members of the WP Vodacom Cup team have also been elevated to the Stormers squad ahead of Saturday, with lock Gerbrandt Grobler (on debut) and flyhalf Gary van Aswegen starting from the bench.
Starting No.10 Elton Jantjies (chest injury) did not train on Wednesday, but will be given until later in the week to prove his fitness.
“Elton will be given time until Friday’s captain’s practice (in Bloemfontein) to prove his fitness. He’s just got a bruise to his chest,” said Coetzee.
“We will consider him for selection and he will be given time to recover like other players have been given time in the past.”
Looking ahead to the weekend, Stormers boss Coetzee added: “We’ve seen how well the Crusaders did their homework and we know that we can expect the same from the Cheetahs.
“This week we’ll have to show improvement in all facets of the game if we want to do well against the Cheetahs. It’s never easy in Bloemfontein, it’s going to be a tough (South African) derby… but we need to focus on our game.”
The DHL Stormers team to take on the Cheetahs is as follows:
15. Jaco Taute
14. Joe Pietersen
13. Juan de Jongh
12. Jean de Villiers (captain)
11. Gio Aplon
10. Elton Jantjies
9. Nic Groom
8. Duane Vermeulen (vice-captain)
7. Michael Rhodes**
6. Siya Kolisi
5. Andries Bekker*
4. De Kock Steenkamp
3. Frans Malherbe
2. Deon Fourie
1. Steven Kitshoff
16. Martin Bezuidenhout
17. Pat Cilliers
18. Gerbrandt Grobler**
19. Nizaam Carr
20. Louis Schreuder
21. Gary van Aswegen
22. Damian de Allende
Referee: Stuart Berry
* Lock Andries Bekker will play in his 100th match for the DHL Stormers – making him the first Stormers player to reach this landmark for the franchise.
** On debut for the DHL Stormers.