The DHL Stormers team to take on the Sharks in Saturday’s Vodacom Super Rugby clash in Durban has been announced, with coach Allister Coetzee making two changes to the starting XV.
Fullback Joe Pietersen and tighthead prop Frans Malherbe come into the starting line-up from the side that went down 17-25 to the Bulls last Friday, whilst flyhalf Peter Grant is back in the matchday 22 after completing his Japanese club commitments.
Joining Grant on the bench is prop Pat Cilliers – who started in the No.3 shirt last week – and scrumhalf Louis Schreuder who will warm the bench in place of Dewaldt Duvenage this weekend.
Centre Juan de Jongh is still not fully over the hamstring injury which kept him out of the Bulls game, whilst coach Coetzee also revealed that Springbok hooker Tiaan Liebenberg could have played this weekend (“at a push”) after his long-term back injury, saying: “It’s just a matter of giving Tiaan another week to brush up on conditioning.”
And on De Jongh, Coetzee explained further: “You don’t want to risk him (Juan) this weekend and push him in prematurely.
“He’s ticked most of the boxes in terms of the strength of the hamstring, his rehab and his fitness, it’s just (that) he’s not comfortable yet. (So) hopefully next weekend when we evaluate Juan again he can take the load.”
Saturday’s match, which will be played at Kings Park, kicks-off at 19h10 and the DHL Stormers boss said of the challenge of facing the Sharks – the losing finalists in last year’s Super Rugby tournament: “The Sharks will always be a quality side.
“We said right from the start that it would be a tough start for us this season – playing two games away from home and playing three of the best franchises (first up),” Coetzee added.
“The Sharks aren’t the favourites for nothing. They’re playing well, they’re coming off a good win over the Cheetahs, they have a good squad and certain players are already on song.”
The DHL Stormers team to take on the Sharks 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. Nic Groom
8. Duane Vermeulen (vice-captain)
7. Rynhardt Elstadt
6. Siya Kolisi
5. Andries Bekker
4. De Kock Steenkamp
3. Frans Malherbe
2. Deon Fourie
1. Steven Kitshoff
16. Martin Bezuidenhout
17. Pat Cilliers
18. Don Armand
19. Nizaam Carr
20. Louis Schreuder
21. Peter Grant
22. Gerhard van den Heever
Referee: Jonathan Kaplan