Investec Stormers coach Gert Smal on Wednesday welcomed back centre Jean de Villiers to the side that takes on the Cats at Newlands on Saturday in their last home game in the Super 12 competition.
De Villiers is back to form a midfield partnership with De Wet Barry. He replaces Marius Joubert, who reverts back to the substitutes’ bench. De Villiers missed last weekend’s narrow defeat to the Chiefs due to a facial injury suffered against the Blues the previous week.
Smal said he was glad to have De Villiers back. “He is okay again to play. It is always nice to have top players back in this competition. You could see the difference Schalk (Burger) made to the team upon his return after an injury layoff.
“He brought a different intensity to the play. It is important to have your top players available and that played a huge part in our success last year. It is important to have continuity regarding team selection. So yes, it is always nice to have a senior player back.”
Wing Tonderai Chavhanga and Joubert both were declared fit after worries about their fitness earlier this week. “Marius and Tonderai suffered a bit with bumps and bruises after the game against the Chiefs, but they are both ready to play.”
Faan Rautenbach has also recovered from the calf injury that bothered him lately and he is back in the starting lineup. He takes over from Eddie Andrews at tighthead. The latter moves to the loosehead position in place of Riaan Olckers to accommodate Rautenbach.
With Pat Barnard retaining his place on the bench, Olckers drop out of the match 22 completely. Lock Quinton Davids and fullback Werner Greeff are still on the injury list and were not considered. Ditto for No 8 Adri Badenhorst.
Looking ahead to Saturday’s clash with the Cats, Smal said the two teams are in the same boat. “They also went through a tough time. Like us they lost games narrowly that they could have won. They would want to get their game back on track and so do us.
“The Cats are a well balanced team and there is an old saying that in this competition there are no weak teams. You don’t get easy games – you need to have your things in place for every game. So we expect a tough game on Saturday.”