Springbok inside centre Damian de Allende will line up in the No.12 jersey for the DHL Stormers, as the Men from the Cape open their 2015 Vodacom Super Rugby campaign against the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday (kick-off 19h10).
De Allende is one of three Springboks in the DHL Stormers’ starting XV, whilst fit-again loose forward Nizaam Carr has been named on the bench to take the squad tally of Boks to four.
In all, there are six DHL Stormers debutants in the matchday squad, three in the starting XV and three on the bench, with wings Johnny Kotze and Dillyn Leyds and tighthead prop Vincent Koch the new faces in the run-on side.
The new faces on the bench are hooker Bongi Mbonambi – who, of course, has Super Rugby experience with the Bulls – tighthead prop Wilco Louw and outside back Huw Jones.
Both Kotze and Leyds are graduates of the WP Rugby Institute and cup-winning DHL WP Under-21 set-ups, with Leyds having had a brief taste of Super Rugby in the colours of the Western Force in 2014.
Skipper Duane Vermeulen will lead the team from the No.8 position in a match which DHL Stormers head coach Allister Coetzee has described as a “tough assignment” and a “great challenge”.
“It is (a tough assignment),” Coetzee told www.iamastormer.com, “but it’s been done before.”
The DHL Stormers will start their season on the Highveld for the third year in a row – having played away to the Bulls in 2013 and the Lions in 2014 – and Coetzee added: “This is a great Bulls team – jam-packed with Springboks.
“It’s a great challenge for us, but we have prepared well and, most importantly, the players are comfortable in their roles and with their responsibilities in the team and, of course, the expectations placed on them.
“We’re looking forward to getting our campaign underway after a good pre-season and, as everyone knows, there’s no greater challenge than facing the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld – be it your first game or your last game of the season.”
The DHL Stormers team to face the Bulls (away) is as follows:
15. Cheslin Kolbe
14. Johnny Kotze (Super Rugby starting debut for the DHL Stormers)
13. Juan de Jongh (vice-captain)
12. Damian de Allende
11. Dillyn Leyds (Super Rugby starting debut for the DHL Stormers)
10. Demetri Catrakilis
9. Nic Groom
8. Duane Vermeulen (captain)
7. Michael Rhodes
6. Rynhardt Elstadt
5. Ruan Botha
4. Jean Kleyn
3. Vincent Koch (Super Rugby starting debut for the DHL Stormers)
2. Scarra Ntubeni
1. Steven Kitshoff
16. Bongi Mbonambi (On Super Rugby debut for the DHL Stormers)
17. Oli Kebble
18. Wilco Louw (On Super Rugby debut for the DHL Stormers)
19. Jurie van Vuuren
20. Nizaam Carr
21. Louis Schreuder
22. Kurt Coleman
23. Huw Jones (On Super Rugby debut for the DHL Stormers)
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Jaco van Heerden (South Africa), Stephan Geldenhuys (South Africa)
TMO: Johan Greeff (South Africa)