Vodacom Stormers coach Kobus van der Merwe predictability stuck to the side that did duty in their final warm-up game when he announced his team for Saturday’s opening Vodacom Super 14 match against the Cats in Johannesburg.
The only change to the side is the inclusion of De Wet Barry at outside centre in place of Piet van Zyl, who loses his place in the match 22. Barry also takes over the captaincy from flanker Schalk Burger.
Van der Merwe said he was happy that he selected the strongest available squad.
“We’re very happy with the preparation up until now, in terms of what we wanted pre-season. We didn’t want drawn out training camps, or trips overseas.
“I think our players are well prepared for the competition, mentally and physically. A lot of players are coming back from injury at the right stage. With regard to selection, we have a fair system in place where the guys who started towards the end of the Currie Cup and against the Spears have been given the benefit of the doubt. They’ve got to be forced out the saddle.”
He added, however, that the Stormers would have a rotational policy in place to ensure players are well rested and fit throughout the tough competition.
“We will look at rotating the players. It’s important to keep players fresh through 16 weeks. We will monitor it intensively.”
This weekend’s game will be Barry’s first of the season after surgery to a troublesome knee a few weeks ago. The Springbok, however, is optimistic that he is ready for the rigours of the Super 14.
“I’m well rested. I had the opportunity to gym my upper body a bit harder. I had a bit of contact yesterday and will have some more tomorrow. It’ll be a little bit more sore than usual, but that’s how it is, and I’m ready to go.”
Boland flyers Jonghi Nokwe and Rayno Benjamin will be making their Stormers debut on Saturday and Van der Merwe expects a lot from them.
“A guy like Werner plays a very important role in settling them. They’re eager to do well, and both have the ability.
“They must focus on that and not the outcome of the game, and this will be a good test for them. We know they’re very talented, and they must focus on what they can control in a match,” enthused the coach.
“They fit in very well to the way we play, they both have lightning pace and guys like Werner and De Wet give a lot of confidence to them. The game against the Spears showed that when they’re given space, they can be lethal.”
Vodacom Stormers: 15. Werner Greeff, 14. Jonghi Nokwe, 13. De Wet Barry, 12. Jean de Villiers, 11. Rayno Benjamin, 10. Peter Grant, 9. Bolla Conradie, 8. Adri Badenhorst, 7. Schalk Burger, 6. Luke Watson, 5. Andries Bekker, 4. Ross Skeate, 3. Eddie Andrews, 2. Hanyani Shimange, 1. JD Moller.
RESERVES: 16. Schalk Brits, 17. Attie Winter, 18. Henk Eksteen, 19. David Hendricks, 20. Neil de Kock, 21. Naas Olivier, 22. Justin Peach