The Vodacom Stormers see their friendly match against the Southern Spears at Wellington on Saturday as a final dress rehearsal for the Super 14 competition and a last chance to fine-tune things.
That is why coach Kobus van der Merwe selected his strongest available side, bar the injured Marius Joubert, De Wet Barry and Joe van Niekerk.
The Stormers went down heavily to the Bulls last Saturday, but the coach is not too perturbed about that result, nor the criticism afterwards.
“That is why I think last weekend was such a good exercise. We have received a lot of criticism last weekend, but that was the goal: to see how much depth we’ve got in the squad and also to keep the guys injury-free.
“I think that will again be the case this weekend. We want to give the players who will be starting against the Cats as much game time as possible, but depending on the match situation we want to take key players off to prevent injury.
“But I think it is important for them to stay on the field as long as possible to get through a good 80 minutes.” Van der Merwe expects the Southern Spears to provide decent opposition.
“They are a young team and a group of guys who have been together only since the start of the season. They, however, certainly don’t lack any enthusiasm and spirit. They gave the Cats a hard time last weekend in East London.
“You cannot underestimate anybody. It is important for us to start well. This is the only contact game we’ve got before the Cats, so we are also not just going out there and chucking everything around and getting loose.
“We want to play to our structures and according to what we’ve practiced over the last two weeks so that the guys can get into the Cats game with confidence.
“The Spears got a point to prove in terms of their future participation in the Super 14, so they will come with everything they’ve got and we wont underestimate them.”
Teams for Wellington: Vodacom Stormers: 15. Werner Greeff, 14. Rayno Benjamin, 13. Piet van Zyl, 12. Jean de Villiers, 11. Jonghi Nokwe, 10. Peter Grant, 9. Bolla Conradie, 8. Adri Badenhorst, 7. Schalk Burger (captain), 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. Joe Pietersen.
Southern Spears: Baldwin McBean, Gershom Ramazan, Basil de Doncker, Vusumzi Mbulali, Reinhard Gerber, Isma-eel Dollie, Warren Malgas, Ashley Johnson (captain), Davon Raubenheimer, Maurice Reid, Jaco du Toit, Lean Combrinck, Eugené Maqwalana, Gavin Williamson, Petros Methula. RESERVES: Wayne Bennett, Marius Mostert, Hein Potgieter, Pietie Loots, Daniel Philander, Spencer Wakeling, Ashwin Scott, Brood van der Westhuizen.