Following a week’s rest, DHL Stormers coach Allister Coetzee was able to recall at least two of his stars when he announced his team to take on the Sharks at DHL Newlands on Saturday evening.
Young lock Reynardt Elstadt, who has been one of the form players in this year’s competition and Springbok wing Bryan Habana return in place of De Kock Steenkamp and Danie Poolman respectively. The return of Habana means, the DHL Stormers will start with a back three of Gio Aplon, Conrad Jantjes and Habana for the first time this campaign.
Coetzee said: “I am delighted to be able to pick this back three. Connie had a great game against the Lions two weeks ago and picking these three guys is important as they bring valuable experience.
“It is difficult to leave out Danie and Johann (Sadie), but it is going to be a tough game under almost test match conditions so experience will be vital for us.”
The coach is still waiting on flyhalf Peter Grant who is recovering from a knee injury. “We are giving Peter as much chance as possible to be fit, so we will only make a decision on Friday. Peter has a muscle injury in his knee and it will depend if he gets full range of movement back. He will not play unless he is 100% fit. We have an able deputy in Lionel (Cronje) if he is unavailable, but we will only make a decision after captain’s run. Kurt Coleman, who has shown great form for the Vodacom Cup team, will then move onto the bench.”
The DHL Stormers have historically not had things their own way following a bye week, but captain Schalk Burger hopes to rectify this against a strong Sharks team this weekend. He said: “It is going to be a tough challenge on Saturday. We haven’t had the greatest results after byes in the past, but the boys are well rested and looking forward to the Sharks game.
“They are always a strong side. We got away with a win in Durban, but we are under no illusions. They are coming here to win and they have fantastic ball carriers in guys like as Jean Deysel and Beast (Mtawarira). It is a massive game, but we have prepared well and are feeling good.”
Fellow flanker Francois Louw is looking forward to playing in front of a packed Newlands crowd, but he knows that home ground advantage will not be enough to vanquish their rivals from the east coast. He said: “It is always nice to play in front of our home ground. Newlands is a fantastic ground to play at and it will be great to get back playing in front of our fans after a bit of a break. The crowd however won’t stop the Sharks coming with the same intensity and we will have to be ready for a physical clash.”
Limited tickets are still available from Computicket outlets and Shoprite/Checkers stores and with a titanic battle expected a huge crowd is expected to cheer on the boys on. If you want to be there don’t delay and get your tickets soon.
DHL Stormers team: Conrad Jantjes, Gio Aplon, Jaque Fourie, Jean de Villiers, Bryan Habana, Peter Grant/Lionel Cronje, Dewaldt Duvenage, Duane Vermeulen, Francois Louw, Schalk Burger (captain), Andries Bekker, Reynardt Elstadt, CJ van der Linde, Deon Fourie, Wicus Blaauw
Replacements: Ethienne Reynecke, Brok Harris, De Kock Steenkamp, Nick Koster, Ricky Januarie, Lionel Cronje/Kurt Coleman, Juan de Jongh.