The DHL Stormers have announced a team showing seven changes for their final Super Rugby match Down Under – against the Rebels at AAMI Park on Friday (kick-off 11h40 SA time).
Two of the changes are injury-enforced, with Rynhardt Elstadt and Duane Vermeulen out with knee injuries, whilst those tour-ending injuries have also led to some positional switches up front.
In one of those changes, regular hooker Deon Fourie will move from the front row to the back row (No.6), with Siya Kolisi shifting to the other side of the scrum and the exciting Nizaam Carr packing down at eighthman.
With Fourie on the flank, Currie Cup-winning hooker Scarra Ntubeni will make his first-ever Super Rugby start in the No.2 shirt. In a final change in the front row, Pat Cilliers will start at tighthead prop in part of the rotation policy with Frans Malherbe, who reverts to the bench this week.
There is also a change at halfback for the DHL Stormers, with Elton Jantjies and Louis Schreuder starting a game together for the first time at flyhalf and scrumhalf, respectively.
Flyhalf Gary van Aswegen, who has started the past four games in the No.10 jersey, drops to the bench this week where he is joined by Nic Groom who will be looking to make his first appearance of the tour. Scrumhalf Dewaldt Duvenage will sit out altogether this week.
Groom, in turn, will be joined on the bench by lock Gerbrandt Grobler, who flew to Australia this week as injury cover, and hooker Martin Bezuidenhout. Flank/lock Don Armand and wing Gerhard van den Heever – who sat on the bench last week – make up the remainder of the replacements.
Stormers coach Allister Coetzee said: “Despite all the changes, some of them injury-enforced, this is an exciting team and we’re determined to finish the tour on a high. We’ve trained well this week and we’re looking forward to Friday’s match.”
The Stormers are still in Sydney and will transfer to Melbourne on Thursday ahead of Friday’s match. They will fly back to South Africa on Saturday.
Looking ahead to their final match, and the challenge of facing the Rebels on their home patch, Coetzee added: “They’re a team with an all-out attacking mindset. They take the ball to the line and they’re not scared to take risks.
“I don’t think they’ll change, they’ll do the same. They have a strong set-piece – they have a good line-out, with tall players, and scrum well, their tighthead prop is a good player; so we know the dangers there.”
The DHL Stormers team to take on the Rebels is as follows:
15. Joe Pietersen
14. Gio Aplon
13. Juan de Jongh
12. Jean de Villiers (captain)
11. Bryan Habana
10. Elton Jantjies
9. Louis Schreuder
8. Nizaam Carr
7. Siya Kolisi
6. Deon Fourie
5. Andries Bekker (vice-captain)
4. Eben Etzebeth
3. Pat Cilliers
2. Scarra Ntubeni
1. Steven Kitshoff
16. Martin Bezuidenhout
17. Frans Malherbe
18. Gerbrandt Grobler
19. Don Armand
20. Nic Groom
21. Gary van Aswegen
22. Gerhard van den Heever
Referee: Mike Fraser (New Zealand)