Vodacom Stormers coach Kobus van der Merwe is depending on De Wet Barry to play a big role upon his return to the side when they take on the Highlanders at Carisbrooke in Dunedin on Saturday in their fourth Vodacom Super 14 match of the season.
Barry will be starting his first game of the season for the Stormers, who will be playing their first match of the Australian and New Zealand leg of their campaign. He replaces Corné Uys, who are recovering from a few bumps and bruises sustained against the Chiefs last Friday.
Van der Merwe said his decision to rope in the battle-hardened Barry was to neutralize the Highlanders’ midfield, which was dangerous in the match against the Sharks in Durban last weekend.
“We want to combat the strong Highlanders midfield, and De Wet also has the experience of playing at Carisbrooke before,” said the coach. “De Wet is very hungry and gives us a physical component.
“After our win against the Chiefs it was important to maintain continuity, and hence we did not want to make too many changes.”
The coach explained that Barry’s defence, experience and the stability he offers weight heavily in his favour.
Although the Highlanders are depleted by injuries and the absence of their top All Blacks, Van der Merwe was not prepared to underestimate the home side. He was quick to say they expect a fiery reception at the House of Pain, where the Highlanders will be playing their first home match of the 2007 campaign.
“They have been on the road for three weeks and have had a few results go against them so they will come out firing and we have to be ready for that.
“It will be a very physical encounter, especially up front, but we have faith in our pack’s abilities and will be looking to build on the progress that has been made so far.”
The Stormers will be itching to get another win behind their belts after accounting for the Chiefs at Newlands last weekend after defeats in their first two games.
Teams for Carisbrooke:
Vodacom Stormers: Gio Aplon, Breyton Paulse, Jean de Villiers, Brent Russell, Peter Grant, JP Joubert, Robbie Diack, Schalk Burger, Luke Watson (captain), Andries Bekker, Gerrie Britz, Brok Harris, Tiaan Liebenberg, JD Moller. Reserves: Schalk Brits, Eddie Andrews, Schalk Ferreira, Francois van der Merwe, Justin Melck, Bolla Conradie, Corne Uys.
Highlanders: 15 Glen Horton, 14 Lucky Mulipola, 13 Matthew Saunders, 12 Callum Bruce, 11 Viliame Waqasaduadua, 10 Charlie Hore, 9 Jimmy Cowan, 8 Craig Newby, 7 Alando Soakai, 6 Josh Blackie (c), 5 James Ryan, 4 Hoani MacDonald, 3 Chris King, 2 Jason MacDonald, 1 Clarke Dermody. Reserves: 16 David Hall, 17 Keith Cameron, 18 Kane Thompson, 19 Hale T-Pole, 20 Toby Morland, 21 Aaron Bancroft or Jason Kawau, 22 Craig Clare.