Allister Coetzee, head coach of the Vodacom Stormers, on Wednesday announced his team to play the Hurricanes at Newlands on Saturday 13 March.
Coetzee has favoured the bulk of Sireli Naqelevuki over the exciting attacker Gio Aplon. The former Fijian international delivered an impressive display against the struggling Highlanders last week, making an impact and gaining metres every time he touched the ball.
Aplon didn’t start that match, as he had to withdraw from the starting XV due to a bout of the flu. He was on the substitutes bench and replaced Joe Pietersen at fullback late in the game.
Coetzee explained Naqelevuki’s selection as one of continuity following last week’s 33-0 win over the Hurricanes. The Stormers coach added the back-three won’t be exposed without the left boot of Aplon.
“We want to keep the ball in hand this week,” he told reporters at the weekly media conference in Bellville. “It has nothing to do with the opposition. We’re focused on what we want to achieve.
“Rain is forecast for Saturday, and while we won’t fight the elements, we’d like to play a running game.”
Coetzee has retained Dewaldt Duvenage at scrumhalf, with Ricky Januarie on the bench. After performing so well against the Highlanders the Stormers kept Anton van Zyl as the No 5 lineout jumper.
Hooker Tiaan Liebenberg is also back after missing the last game with flu. Deon Fourie was a stand-out player last week as a late replacement, but Liebenberg’s form before last Saturday was even more impressive.
The coach is wary of the threat posed by the very potent Canes front row. “They have an all All Blacks front row, so it’s going to be a massive challenge for us in that department,” he said. “Deon played very well last week, but we felt Tiaan has the experience for this very important battle.”
The main fixture is preceded by two curtain raisers. The first fixture at 15h50 is Schools Tag Rugby. This is followed by a Vodacom Cup clash between the Pampas XV (Argentina) and Border at 16h40. Kick-off for the main fixture is at 19h10, with gates opening at 15h30.
Tickets are priced between R80 and R95 for seating, with standing room tickets R50. Tickets are currently on sale through Computicket outlets nationwide, online at www.computicket.com or via the Call Centre on 083 915 8000. The Newlands Box Office in Boundary Road will be open from Tuesday till Friday from 9am to 4pm, and on Saturday from 9am until kick-off.
The Vodacom Stormers team is as follows:
15. Joe Pietersen
14. Sireli Naqelevuki
13. Jaque Fourie
12. Juan De Jongh
11. Bryan Habana
10. Peter Grant
9. Dewaldt Duvenage
8. Duane Vermeulen
7 Francois Louw
6. Schalk Burger (c)
5. Andries Bekker
4. Anton Van Zyl
3. Brok Harris
2. Tiaan Liebenberg
1. Wicus Blaauw
16. Deon Fourie
17. JC Kritzinger
18. De Kock Steenkamp
19. Pieter Louw
20. Ricky Januarie
21. Lionel Cronje
22. Gio Aplon