DHL Stormers head coach Allister Coetzee has announced his starting line-up – along with a bigger replacements bench – for Saturday’s pre-season friendly against the Bulls at the Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane (kick-off 17h00).
Springbok skipper Jean de Villiers will lead the DHL Stormers into battle, with fellow Bok star Schalk Burger starting in the No.7 jersey and assuming the team vice-captaincy.
Burger will form a potent all-Bok loose trio alongside Duane Vermeulen (No.8) and Siya Kolisi (No.6), with Rynhardt Elstadt and Ruan Botha packing down in a new-look second row for the DHL Stormers.
De Villiers, meanwhile, will resume his all-Bok partnership alongside Juan de Jongh in the midfield, with Damian de Allende starting in the No.11 jersey. WP Under-21 star Kobus van Wyk will start on the right-wing and Springbok fullback Gio Aplon will provide plenty of experience from the No.15 position.
The DHL Stormers will play two more warm-up matches after this weekend, against the Kings (Friday, February 7) and Boland (Saturday, February 15) and coach Coetzee has identified internal goals for his team ahead of the 2014 Vodacom Super Rugby season.
“Let me say from the outset that the results of these warm-up matches are not of primary importance, but that does not mean we won’t – or don’t – care about winning (these matches),” said the DHL Stormers coach.
“The focus is internal… it’s on the DHL Stormers… on what we’ve been doing over the last couple of weeks, and to see how that pans out under pressure. We have a few objectives in terms of the breakdown, our kicking game… the set-phase (etc, etc) and we want to make sure we achieve those little goals.
“This will be the Bulls’ only pre-season friendly, so the two teams’ focus will be entirely different,” added Coetzee.
“Last year we made a slow start to our season and as a result we opted for three warm-up matches this time. Part of the planning is playing away from home, which was done to take the players out of their comfort zone. We also want to use these games to see what the youngsters can do and whether our depth is sufficient.
“We also want to use these games to see what the youngsters can do and whether our depth is sufficient. I’ve never been shy to give young players an opportunity and there’s no better opportunity than to play the Bulls away from home.”
The DHL Stormers team for Saturday’s pre-season friendly (v the Bulls) is as follows:
15. Gio Aplon
14. Kobus van Wyk
13. Juan de Jongh
12. Jean de Villiers (captain)
11. Damian de Allende
10. Demetri Catrakilis
9. Louis Schreuder
8. Duane Vermeulen
7. Schalk Burger (vice-captain)
6. Siya Kolisi
5. Ruan Botha
4. Rynhardt Elstadt
3. Frans Malherbe
2. Scarra Ntubeni
1. Steven Kitshoff
16. Tiaan Liebenberg
17. Oli Kebble
18. Alistair Vermaak/Justin Ackerman
19. Jean Kleyn
20. Michael Rhodes
21. Nizaam Carr
22. Nic Groom
23. Gary van Aswegen
24. Scott van Breda
25. Ryno Eksteen
26. Deon Fourie
Referee: Lourens van der Merwe