Allister Coetzee has announced a much-changed line-up for the DHL Stormers’ final warm-up game ahead of the 2014 Vodacom Super Rugby season.
The DHL Stormers will take on the Boland Cavaliers in Wellington on Saturday afternoon and Coetzee has named a new-look side in a bid to give his entire group of players a run before the start of the season proper.
Experienced hooker Tiaan Liebenberg will lead the Stormers into battle this weekend, with flyhalf Gary van Aswegen serving as his vice-captain.
Youngsters EW Viljoen and Justin Phillips (from the WP Rugby Institute) will get their first taste of senior action for the union this weekend, whilst recent WP Under-21 stars Kyle Lombard, Devon Williams, Godlen Masimla, Rayn Smid, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Jean Kleyn and Oliver Kebble will start for the first time in 2014.
Forwards Stephan Coetzee, Carel du Preez and Eital Bredenkamp – like Lombard, Williams, Masimla, Smid, Notshe, Kleyn and Kebble also members of the cup-winning DHL WP U21 team from last year – will warm the bench in Wellington.
Unfortunately, centre Pat Howard suffered a slight hamstring injury at training on Monday morning which will keep him out of action for two weeks. Utility forward Rynhardt Elstadt, meanwhile, will not be out of action for too long after picking up a rib injury against the Kings this past weekend (in his team’s 40-7 win in PE).
Elstadt should be ready for his team’s first Super Rugby game of the season – against the Lions on Saturday, February 22. Skipper Jean de Villiers, who took a knock to his ear against the Bulls two weeks ago (as the Stormers won 26-19), will definitely be ready to travel to Johannesburg next week.
Coetzee told www.iamastormer.com: “As stated before, my intention was always to ensure a decent amount of game time ahead of the start of the Vodacom Super Rugby season – you can see with our selections this week that we’re giving everyone an opportunity.
“Players like Tiaan, Gary and Pat will bring experience to the party, whilst it’s exciting to see young forwards like Oli and Notshe get starts this weekend and the introduction of Institute players like EW Viljoen and Justin Phillips is an exciting opportunity for us as coaches and the players alike.”
The Stormers would have played three warm-up matches by the time their Super Rugby season officially starts next weekend and coach Coetzee added: “I’m very satisfied with where we are as a team at this stage of the season – especially when compared to last year.
“I’m also very happy with the game time that players like Schalk Burger, for instance, have had over the past fortnight. Schalk had 80 minutes at altitude against the Bulls and 40 minutes this past weekend. He’s fit and feeling good – I think our squad has prepared well on the whole and players have got the right amount of game time.
“Yes, Jean de Villiers had 60 minutes only (against the Bulls), but he’s a senior player… as is Duane Vermeulen. It’s not Duane or Jean’s first season of Super Rugby… so I’m not worried about them at all.”
* A DHL Western Province Vodacom Cup XV (14h00) and the DHL Stormers team (16h30) will be in action against their opponents from Boland on Saturday. (The DHL WP XV, to face Boland, will be named later in the week.)
Tickets – at R10 for scholars and R40 for adults – are available from the Boland Stadium ticket office and via Computicket.
The DHL Stormers team for Saturday’s pre-season friendly (v the Boland Cavaliers) is as follows:
15. Jaco Taute
14. EW Viljoen
13. Kyle Lombard
12. Michael van der Spuy
11. Devon Williams
10. Gary van Aswegen (vice-captain)
9. Godlen Masimla
8. Rayn Smid
7. Sikhumbuzo Notshe
6. Rohan Kitshoff
5. Ruan Botha
4. Jean Kleyn
3. Pat Cilliers
2. Tiaan Liebenberg (captain)
1. Oliver Kebble
16. Alistair Vermaak
17. Stephan Coetzee
18. Brok Harris
19. Tazz Fuzani
20. Carel du Preez
21. Eital Bredenkamp
22. Justin Phillips
23. Kurt Coleman
24. JP Lewis
25. Scott van Breda