Ricky Januarie is back after his stint with Welsh club Ospreys and joined his Vodacom Stormers team-mates at training in Bellville on Monday.
The Stormers are preparing for their last warm-up game, Saturday at the new Cape Town Stadium against Boland, before they start their Super 14 campaign with a match against the Lions in Johannesburg on February 13.
Coach Allister Coetzee welcomed the feisty Springbok scrumhalf back and said he was happy to have the player available again. “Ricky is definitely back and he attended his first practice today. I am fairly happy with reports and the videos I’ve seen of Ricky playing overseas.
“I am very happy to see that he has been involved in all the games over there. They qualified for the quarterfinals so we’re happy he made a contribution there.”
He added: “Ricky has always had the fight, and that is what they needed and I suppose that’s why they opted for a scrumhalf like Ricky. In the northern hemisphere, they don’t play an expansive game and they don’t play a nine that just feeds the flyhalf all the time.
“He was quite effective around the rucks and mauls and defensively. From our point of view we’re happy he had all the game time under the belt and he’s match-ready. Obviously, it’s warm-up conditions over here now and I’m looking forward to seeing him play.”
Flyhalf Willem de Waal is also back after a neck injury kept him out of action for quite a big portion of last season’s Currie Cup campaign. The flyhalf has also missed out on the Stormers two other warm-up games against the Western Force and the Sharks.
“He is back and he’ll be in the mix this weekend. Up until last week he was contact training at 60% but from today he’s 100% training. He’s really looking comfortable, now it’s just a matter of playing full contact in a live game and then his confidence levels will go up.
“Everything is geared up for the first clash against the Lions, it will be a helluva game and we want to make sure that everyone has had 120-plus minutes of game time.”
Coetzee on Monday also announced a 28-man squad for the Boland match. The Stormers will be without prop Wicus Blaauw and lock Andries Bekker. The coach said Blaauw picked up a bit of a shoulder niggle this weekend and it would be unwise to play him.
“Andries has some stiffness, that’s why he’s not involved, and I’m happy with what I’ve seen from De Kock (Steenkamp), and it’s important to give (Anton) Van Zyl 80 minutes.”
Centre Dylan des Fountain is also back after a long absence due to injury. “Dylan makes a welcome return. He is fully recovered and we are looking forward to seeing him in action,” commented Coetzee.
Fullback Joe Pietersen is also getting a breather this weekend. Coetzee explained the exciting youngster had a bit of a bump on the thigh and they just want to make sure with him, and he’s had enough game time too.
The Vodacom Stormers squad v Boland:
Props – JD Moller, Eusebio Guinazu, JC Kritzinger
Hookers – Deon Fourie, Callie Visagie
Locks – Martin Muller, Anton van Zyl, Rynhardt Elstadt
Flankers – Schalk Burger (capt), Pieter Louw, Pieter Myburgh, Yahya Hartzenberg, Conraad Britz, Duane Vermeulen
Scrumhalves – Bolla Conradie, Ricky Januarie
Flyhalves – Willem De Waal, Lionel Cronje
Centres – Frikkie Welsh, Paul Bosch, Tim Whitehead, Juan de Jongh, Jaque Fourie
Wingers / Fullback – Bryan Habana, Sireli Naqelevuki, Gio Aplon, Fabian Juries, Dylan des Fountain