The Vodacom Stormers play their first warm-up game of the season against the Bulls in Pretoria on Saturday and intent selecting their strongest available combination.
The Stormers have only one more friendly game – against Boland on 20 January at Wellington – before starting their Vodacom Super 14 campaign with an away match against the Cheetahs on 3 February.
The lack of time before the arduous Super 14 starts is the reason why coach Kobus van der Merwe wants to tackle the Bulls with his strongest combination.
“We don’t have a lot of time left before the competition starts, that is why I want to play my strongest combination against the Bulls.
“You obviously want to give everybody in the squad game time, so the rest of the guys will play against Boland,” explained Van der Merwe.
He currently has 32 players in the squad and said he was very happy with the available talent and depth. “We have a very good squad this season, with a lot more depth, particularly amongst the backs.
“I think we are going to struggle to select the right backline because there are so many good players, but it is a nice headache to have. Last year this time we had four guys who had surgery, now we only have Tonderai Chavhanga and Paul Delport out and that is fantastic.”
Van der Merwe is under no illusions about the toughness of the Stormers’ fixture list. “It is very tough and it is going to be a difficult tour,” he said.
“But we have to take it in our stride. You need to win your matches, whether you play at home or away. We must move away from that mindset that we cannot win overseas.
“The Sharks showed last year on a difficult tour what can be done. They performed well with a young team and could have been in a semi-final if we didn’t allow the Bulls to slip through the backdoor.
“It is going to be tough and we play all the difficult games away, but it could count in our favour.”
Van der Merwe said this competition would be a tough one for exciting youngsters such as Robbie Diack, Gio Aplon and Corné Uys, who made a name for themselves in the Currie Cup last year.
“It is going to be a big test for them, without a doubt. But they are very excited to be getting a chance. A guy like Brock Harris is training exceptionally hard and also for him it will be a nice challenge.”
Van der Merwe didn’t want to say too much about goals for Super 14 2007. “We are just going to take it game by game. Our goal is to win every single game and we are not going to ‘target’ certain games.
“Our aim is to win every game.”