The Vodacom Stormers have made two enforced changes to their starting XV for this week’s clash with the Brumbies in Canberra on Friday evening.
Fullback Brent Russell, who was concussed in the first half of last week’s 30-17 win over the Hurricanes, has been ruled out. His place will be taken by Gio Aplon, who started on the wing in Palmerston North.
Corne Uys has been promoted from the bench and will start on the left wing from where he scored one of the Vodacom Stormers’ four tries last weekend. Egon Seconds, who was passed fit at the weekend, comes in on the bench.
Amongst the pack, tighthead prop Brok Harris is receiving treatment for a sprained ankle and was not considered. His place in the starting line-up is taken by Eddie Andrews with Schalk Ferreira returning to the bench.
Hooker Huia Edmonds, who joined the team as a replacement for Tiaan Liebenberg on Monday, is included on the bench. The remainder of the bench is the same as for the Hurricanes match.
“This week’s starting line-up is exactly the one that finished against the Hurricanes last Saturday,” said coach Kobus van der Merwe.
“With the exception of the change at tighthead we have left the pack unchanged as they did very well as a unit last week. Gerrie and Andries are playing fantastic rugby at the moment while Justin Melck added a different element at the back of the scrum.
“We believe this combination will give us the attacking platform that we are looking for against the Brumbies”.
Van der Merwe added that he was happy with the make-up of the backline. “We are lucky to have the experience of Bolla, De Wet, Jean and Breyton that will rub off on the younger guys.
“It is fantastic to have backs who are versatile as they offer a variety of options in terms of the type of game we want to play against certain teams”.
Van der Merwe added that the win against the Hurricanes had given the squad a confidence boost for the remainder of the tour. “The importance of the win might only become significant in the weeks to come but it has certainly lifted the confidence of the players and given them further motivation to do well.
The Vodacom Stormers have been winless in four previous visits to Canberra, their narrowest defeat a 19 – 22 loss in 2005 and their biggest loss, of 15 – 37, coming in 1999.
“The Brumbies are a quality side who will still play well despite injuries to key players. Whilst we are by no means complacent, there is also a realization that this is perhaps our best chance yet of beating them at home,” van der Merwe said.
15 Gio Aplon
14 Breyton Paulse
13 Jean de Villiers
12 De Wet Barry
11 Corne Uys
10 Peter Grant
9 Bolla Conradie
8 Justin Melck
7 Schalk Burger
6 Luke Watson (C)
5 Gerrie Britz
4 Andries Bekker
3 Eddie Andrews
2 Schalk Brits
1 JD Moller
16 Huia Edmonds
17 Schalk Ferreira
18 Ross Skeate
19 Francois vd Merwe
20 JP Joubert
21 Naas Olivier
22 Egon Seconds