The DHL Stormers team has been announced for their first Super Rugby tour game of 2013 – against the Hurricanes in Palmerston North on Friday (kick-off 09h35 SA time).
The return of star speedster Bryan Habana, on the left-wing, is one of just three changes to the Stormers starting XV (from the Sharks match two weeks ago), with Damian de Allende dropping to the bench and Gio Aplon shifting across to the right-wing. Habana, his country’s most-capped Test winger, is back to full fitness after sustaining a knee injury in early March.
Pat Cilliers will start at tighthead prop, in the only change up front, whilst forwards Scarra Ntubeni (hooker), Brok Harris (prop) and Rynhardt Elstadt (as lock and flank cover) and scrumhalf Nic Groom join the matchday squad – on the bench – this week.
Ntubeni – who picked up a shoulder injury during pre-season training – will make his first appearance of the season should he take to the field on Friday, whilst Elstadt is also back from a shoulder niggle after missing the Cheetahs and Sharks clashes.
Louis Schreuder will provide flyhalf cover from the bench, with DHL Stormers coach Allister Coetzee opting to give Elton Jantjies one more week to be ready for the clash against the Blues in Albany on Friday, May 3.
“Elton trained well this week,” said Coetzee. “I said earlier in the week that he was at 80%, but we want to ensure that he has a full week of training (next week) and that we have him ready for the Blues match.
“(Prop) Frans Malherbe is also getting a break this week, mainly as part of our rotation policy, but also to rest a slight AC Joint injury which he suffered against the Sharks.”
* Meanwhile, flanker Siya Kolisi has a stiff groin muscle and will be given until Thursday’s captain’s run to prove his fitness.
Coach Coetzee is confident that he will be fine, but he has options to move Deon Fourie from hooker to No.6 or to start with Nizaam Carr on the flank.
The DHL Stormers team to take on the Hurricanes is as follows:
15. Joe Pietersen
14. Gio Aplon
13. Juan de Jongh
12. Jean de Villiers (captain)
11. Bryan Habana
10. Gary van Aswegen
9. Dewaldt Duvenage
8. Duane Vermeulen (vice-captain)
7. Michael Rhodes
6. Siya Kolisi
5. Andries Bekker
4. De Kock Steenkamp
3. Pat Cilliers
2. Deon Fourie
1. Steven Kitshoff
16. Scarra Ntubeni
17. Brok Harris
18. Rynhardt Elstadt
19. Nizaam Carr
20. Nic Groom
21. Louis Schreuder
22. Damian de Allende
Referee: Steve Walsh (Australia)