Vodacom Stormers coach Rassie Erasmus expects Schalk Burger to play a big role in his return match after a suspension of two games.
The Stormers tackle the Chiefs in Waikato on Friday and the fiery flanker’s inclusion is the only change to the side that beat the Reds in Brisbane last Saturday to claim their first Super 14 victory in 2008.
With Burger back, Luke Watson reverts to the No 8 spot, with Robbie Diack dropping down to the substitutes’ bench.
Erasmus was glad to have Burger back. “His presence will mean a lot against the Chiefs. He wants to be part of the process to steer the team’s season in the right direction.”
The coach said one win doesn’t mean the pressure is off the side. “I don’t think the pressure is going to become less now. We are now in the spot on the log where the Stormers finished last year and you want to improve.”
His captain, Jean de Villiers, also spoke about the need to improve if they want to beat the Chiefs. The centre said the first win for him as captain of the side was an unbelievable experience.
“After three straight losses there was a lot of pressure to turn things around and getting a bonus point was just so rewarding.
“It was not difficult to keep the guys focused on the field, as we have trained hard, know our moves and ability and we believe in each other. Each player is very committed and gives his best all the time and need not be reminded to remain focused.”
De Villiers said the biggest challenge now was to keep on winning and to return after the tour with as many log points possible.
“No game is easy and there are difficult ones ahead. We are however confident and will give our best,” he added.
The big centre was happy with the preparation in Auckland this week. The Stormers travel by bus to Hamilton on Thursday for the game.
“The training for the week obviously required emphasis on areas where the Chiefs play, which are different to that of the Reds.”
The Stormers beat the Chiefs 21-16 in their last meeting, in Cape Town last year after the Chiefs triumphed the previous year at home.
The Stormers are hungry for a second consecutive win, but they know they would have to be at their best against a team who is famous for their never-say-die attitude.
Betting news from Stormersbet
Although the Stormers will have to wait another week for Tony Brown to join the squad, the morale boosting victory last weekend away from home is just what the doctor ordered to give the Stormers the confidence to perform. The Chiefs will be without inspirational leader Jono Gibbes for a five more weeks and will be making changes to their back line, most notably moving stand in captain Mils Mulianina to centre. From a betting point of view Stormerbet bookies have set the handicap at +6.5 points for the Stormers. In other words if you place a bet on the Stormers on the handicap and the Stormers win outright or lose by 6 points or less, you will be a winner. If you bet on the Stormers to win outright you will get odds of R2.80 (So for R10 your profit will be R18) We recommend a bet on the Stormers on handicap. Register at www.stormersbet.co.za
Chiefs: 15 Sosene Anesi, 14 Lelia Masaga, 13 Mils Muliaina (captain), 12 Richard Kahui, 11 Sitiveni Sivivatu, 10 Stephen Donald, 9 Brendon Leonard, 8 Liam Messam, 7 Tom Harding, 6 Faifili Levave, 5 Kevin O’Neill, 4 Toby Lynn, 3 Ben May, 2 Tom Willis, 1 Simms Davison.
Replacements: 16 Vern Kamo, 17 Ben Castle, 18 Hayden Hopgood, 19 Sione Lauaki, 20 Tanerau Latimer, 21 David Bason, 22 Callum Bruce.
Vodacom Stormers: 15 Conrad Jantjes, 14 Tonderai Chavhanga, 13 Gcobani Bobo, 12 Jean De Villiers (captain), 11 Sireli Naqelevuki, 10 Peter Grant, 9 Ricky Januarie, 8 Luke Watson, 7 Francois Louw, 6 Schalk Burger, 5 Andries Bekker, 4 Adriaan Fondse, 3 Brian Mujati, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 JD Moller.
Replacements: 16 Deon Fourie, 17 Brok Harris, 18 Ross Skeate, 19 Robbie Diack, 20 Bolla Conradie, 21 Gio Aplon, 22 Dylan Des Fountain.
Referee: Matt Goddard (Australia)