Investec Stormers coach Gert Smal faces a few tough choices before announcing his side tomorrow for Saturday’s Super 12 match against the Highlanders in Invercargill.
The Stormers got their Super 12 off to a winning start against the Sharks on Friday night before departing for Sydney in Australia on Saturday. On Thursday they will fly to Invercargill on the South Island of New Zealand for their appointment with the Highlanders, who lost to the Blues in their first game.
Smal has to find a replacement for firebrand flanker Schalk Burger, who is not available due to his commitment to the Tsunami game in London. Burger will be joining the Stormers squad in Australia on Sunday.
Adri Badenhorst was a regular starter in the Stormers XV the past two seasons and he has enough experience to step up to the mark. That could mean a positional shift for Joe van Niekerk, who was at No 8 against the Sharks. Badenhorst is also an option at flank, as is David Hendricks, who played excellently in the friendly match against Wasps in London.
The other option available to Smal is to move lock Gerrie Britz to the side of the scrum. The former Free State Cheetah has a lot of experience of playing at flank, but Smal would probably want to give him more time to settle in at lock and forge a partnership with Quinton Davids.
Smal is also going to have to give some thought to the goalkicking. It is a long time since Gaffie du Toit has been a consistent place-kicker and this could cost the Stormers in a close game. Don’t bet against Chris Rossouw returning at flyhalf when he is declared fully fit and Du Toit going to fullback. Rossouw was in the party that flew from Cape Town on Saturday.
The coach also has to decide whether wing Tonderai Chavhanga and flyhalf Chris Rossouw have recovered sufficiently from the injuries that kept them out of the first game. Both trained yesterday, but Smal told newspapers he wants to have another look at them in training before making a decision.