DHL Stormers coach Allister Coetzee has named a much-changed line-up for Saturday’s Super Rugby encounter against the Reds at DHL Newlands (kick-off 17h05).
The Stormers suffered a spate of injuries on their recently-completed four-match tour of Australasia, with five players from last week’s line-up – against the Rebels – missing because of injury this weekend.
Centre Juan de Jongh (fractured finger), flank-cum-hooker Deon Fourie (ribs), lock Andries Bekker (back) and props Frans Malherbe and Pat Cilliers (both ankles) are the injury-victims from Melbourne. A sixth player, hooker Scarra Ntubeni, withdrew from last week’s match at the 11th hour with a hamstring injury and is still not available for selection.
Fourie, Ntubeni and De Jongh should all be back on deck after the June Test break – along with lock De Kock Steenkamp, who left the tour early with a chest injury – but Bekker, Malherbe and Cilliers will be out for some time.
As a result of these injuries, Damian de Allende (inside centre), Don Armand (No.7 flank), Gerbrandt Grobler (No.4 lock), Brok Harris (tighthead prop) and Tiaan Liebenberg (hooker) all come into the starting XV this week. In other changes, skipper Jean de Villiers will move from inside centre to outside centre, Siya Kolisi shifts across from No.7 to No.6 and Eben Etzebeth will call the line-outs in the absence of Bekker in the No.5 shirt.
De Allende will make his first start since the Stormers’ 22-15 win over the Sharks on April 13, Armand and Harris will make their first starts of 2013, Grobler will make his first-ever Super Rugby start and Liebenberg (having recovered from an elbow injury) is back in the mix for the first time since March 23 (against the Brumbies).
On the bench, meanwhile, prop Chris Heiberg and flanker Rohan Kitshoff – both DHL WP Vodacom Cup stars – await their Super Rugby debuts for the DHL Stormers, whilst lock Marius Coetzer – another new face in the selection frame this week – has played five Super Rugby games for the Lions but will be on debut for the Stormers.
“We’ve been hit really hard by injuries, but we’re looking forward to (new) players bringing in new energy this weekend,” said DHL Stormers boss Allister Coetzee.
“As a coach you make do with what you have and remain positive about the (next) fixture, but the reality is that we’re currently sitting with 15 players that are unavailable. Having said that, I’m excited about the new players in our team – all of whom have a chance to lay down a marker and all of whom brought plenty of energy and enthusiasm to training this week.”
Speaking about facing the Reds, the 2011 Super Rugby champions, Coetzee added: “The Reds are a challenging team. They beat us at DHL Newlands last time (two years ago) and I expect the same (from them) from a tactical point of view.
“They’re probably disappointed at losing (to the Cheetahs) last week and they’ll probably be chasing a four-try bonus point. We’re confident in our defence, however, and hopefully we can make our opportunities on attack count.”
Meanwhile, Saturday’s match will also be used as a vehicle to raise funds for former WP centre Tinus Linee who has been diagnosed with Motor Neuron Disease (MND).
There will be bucket collections at DHL Newlands during the day, whilst you can also SMS ‘Tinus’ to 38208 to make a one-off R10 donation to Tinus Linee. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Tickets are still available for Saturday’s match and can be purchased at the DHL Newlands ticket office, PostNet outlets and online at wprugby.ticketpros.co.za.
The DHL Stormers team to take on the Reds is as follows:
15. Joe Pietersen
14. Gio Aplon
13. Jean de Villiers (captain)
12. Damian de Allende
11. Bryan Habana
10. Elton Jantjies
9. Louis Schreuder
8. Nizaam Carr
7. Don Armand
6. Siya Kolisi
5. Eben Etzebeth
4. Gerbrandt Grobler*
3. Brok Harris
2. Tiaan Liebenberg
1. Steven Kitshoff
16. Martin Bezuidenhout
17. Chris Heiberg**
18. Marius Coetzer**
19. Rohan Kitshoff**
20. Dewaldt Duvenage
21. Gary van Aswegen
22. Gerhard van den Heever
* Starting debut for the DHL Stormers
** On debut for the DHL Stormers
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)