Allister Coetzee has welcomed back fit-again players Eben Etzebeth and Elton Jantjies into the DHL Stormers 22, and is looking forward to the duo making an impact from the bench on Friday.
The duo will start as replacements for the DHL Stormers against the Blues in Albany on Friday (09h35 SA time), as the Men from the Cape look to make it two from two on their tour of Australasia.
When asked about his team selection this week – with three changes in the starting XV and three on the bench – Coetzee, speaking from Auckland on Wednesday morning, said: “It was a bit easier (this week) I guess.
“That said, it’s never easy when you have a group of 26 hard-working players – all of whom have put in the hard yards and effort and neither of whom would let you down. It’s never easy to just leave out players.
“The balance of our team is one that has played together in the past. Look at the loose trio of Siya (Kolisi), Rynhardt (Elstadt) and Duane (Vermeulen) – they’re the combination that played together for most of last year, so we’re back to that.”
Speaking about Springbok star Eben Etzebeth starting from the bench – in what will be his first Super Rugby appearance of 2013 – Coetzee added: “Eben has worked really hard during his rehab and he’s ready to play.
“The thinking behind benching him is to give him the best opportunity to get used to the intensity of Super Rugby. It’s his first match back in a while, so I think it’s the way to do it and I know, as a young player, that he’s fit and ready will get back to the level that he was at (before his injury).
“Elton (Jantjies) will start on the bench for the same reasons (as Eben).
“On the other hand, starting with De Kock (Steenkamp) and Gary (van Aswegen) is also a reward for those guys who have been playing well. Fortunately we have two guys back who can make an impact for us off the bench on Friday night.”