The midfield battle could play a decisive role in the outcome of the Vodacom Stormers first Vodacom Super 12 match against the Cats in Johannesburg on Saturday.
It will be an all-Springbok affair, with the Stormers De Wet Barry and Jean de Villiers pitting their skills against those of Cats combination, Wayne Julies and Jaque Fourie. They are Springbok team-mates, but on Saturday afternoon there will be nothing friendly about this midfield tussle.
Vodacom Stormers coach Kobus van der Merwe expects the sparks to fly. “It’s going to be very interesting. They’ve got great centres, but so do we,” said Van der Merwe.
“Jean and De Wet have great strengths we can utilise to the benefit of the team. We can use them equally well at inside or outside centre, we’ll switch them around for certain plays. I’m very pleased De Wet is on duty, but I’m sure Jaque isn’t quite as pleased.”
However, much of the Cats midfield pairing’s performance will depend on the young and inexperienced Tiaan Snyman at flyhalf. Van der Merwe said the Cats would miss their Springbok pivot Andre Pretorius.
“It is obviously a step up for Tiaan Snyman and I am sure they will miss him. We are very pleased that Andre is not playing, but Tian is a quality kicker of the ball.
“If the Bulls game is anything to go by, they will also try and pin you in the corners. Tiaan has a very good kicking boot and will make it difficult for you to get out of your half.”
Teams for Ellis Park:
Cats: 15 Earl Rose, 14 Wylie Human, 13 Jaque Fourie, 12 Wayne Julies, 11 Jorrie Muller, 10 Tiaan Snyman, 9 Enrico Januarie, 8 Ernst Joubert, 7 Wikus van Heerden (capt), 6 Cobus Grobbelaar,5 Jannes Labuschagne, 4 Trevor Hall, 3 Marius Hurter, 2 Lukas van Biljon, 1 Pietman van Niekerk. Reserves: 16 Delarey du Preez, 17 Lawrence Sephaka, 18 KleinJan Tromp, 19 Willem Stoltz, 20 Jano Vermaak, 21 Doppies la Grange, 22 Grant Esterhuizen.
Vodacom Stormers: 15. Werner Greeff, 14. Jonghi Nokwe, 13. De Wet Barry, 12. Jean de Villiers, 11. Rayno Benjamin, 10. Peter Grant, 9. Bolla Conradie, 8. Adri Badenhorst, 7. Schalk Burger, 6. Luke Watson, 5. Andries Bekker, 4. Ross Skeate, 3. Eddie Andrews, 2. Hanyani Shimange, 1. JD Moller. RESERVES: 16. Schalk Brits, 17. Attie Winter, 18. Henk Eksteen, 19. David Hendricks, 20. Neil de Kock, 21. Naas Olivier, 22. Justin Peach.