Kobus van der Merwe, head coach of the Vodacom Stormers, on Wednesday announced his team to play the Blues at Eden Park on Saturday 8 April in a Vodacom Super 14 match.
Kick-off is at 09h35 (SA time).
The team shows two changes to the starting line-up against the Western Force last Friday. Hanyani Shimange starts at hooker with Schalk Brits on the bench, while at lock Andries Bekker replaces Ross Skeate who is being rested.
Henk Eksteen is included on the reserves bench.
Van der Merwe said Skeate, who sustained a hip injury that forced him off the field in the victory over the force, deserved a break.
“Ross has played in all seven of our games so far and is in need of a rest. He picked up a hip injury in the Force game and while he has responded well to treatment it was felt that it would be better at this stage to rest him this weekend.
“We withdrew him from training this week in anticipation of him not playing in the Blues game. He is likely to be fit again for the Chiefs game”.
Bekker lost his place for the game against the Force to Gerrie Britz, but is back in the starting team now. “Andries has had a good amount of game time so far and he should slot back in quite easily. I am sure that he will do a good job in the lineouts and will partner well with Gerrie Britz.”
Shimange also gets a chance in place of Brits after a stint on the bench. “This is part of our rotation policy. We have done this before this season, especially with the hookers.
“Both Shimmy and Schalk are world class hookers and it is vital that we keep them fit and hungry with three matches to play on tour”
Springbok loose-forward Joe van Niekerk made an impressive return to the field of play after a long absence through injury against the Force. Van der Merwe admitted he was tempted to start with Van Niekerk.
“There was a temptation to start with Joe but we must keep in mind that he has had a long lay off and while he made an impact coming off the bench last week we need to manage him carefully.”
Van der Merwe said management opted to keep changes to a minimum in order to maintain consistency.
“It was always our intention to keep changes to a minimum in order to maintain consistency and continuity. We have had to make a minor adjustment through injury but are comfortable that we have a strong side to face the Blues.
“There were encouraging signs against the Force and we perhaps should have won that game more comprehensively.”
The Vodacom Stormers team is as follows:
15. Joe Pietersen
14. Tonderai Chavhanga
13. De Wet Barry (C)
12. Jean De Villiers
11. Marius Joubert
10. Naas Olivier
9. Bolla Conradie
8. Adri Badenhorst
7 Schalk Burger
6. Luke Watson
5. Gerrie Britz
4. Andries Bekker
3. Eddie Andrews
2. Hanyani Shimange
1. JD Moller
16. Schalk Brits
17. Neil Fullard
18. Henk Eksteen
19. Joe Van Niekerk
20. Neil De Kock
21. Peter Grant
22. Jongi Nokwe