Stormers bring back their heavy ammunition for Bulls
Stormers coach Robbie Fleck has brought back all his available big guns for this weekend’s Super Rugby clash against the Bulls at Loftus.
In isolation the match is only about local bragging rights as the Stormers have already qualified for next week’s quarterfinals while the Bulls are out of playoff contention.
But Fleck wants his side to build some momentum going into the post-season at Newlands next week where they will meet either the Chiefs or the Hurricanes.
There was no temptation to put key players in cotton wool this weekend and protect them from potential injury in a match that has nothing riding on it.
The experienced trio of Rynhardt Elstadt‚ Juan de Jongh and Sikhumbuzo Notshe have been added to the match-day squad.
Elstadt comes back into the starting lineup on the flank while De Jongh and Notshe make their return from injury on the replacements’ bench.
The only other changes to the run-on team come in the tight five‚ with prop Frans Malherbe and lock Eben Etzebeth having recovered from the flu that forced them to miss last week’s 52-15 victory against the Sunwolves at Newlands.
As a result Wilco Louw and Chris van Zyl will feature off the replacements bench‚ along with De Jongh and Notshe.
“We are in a good space at the moment because there is a lot of enthusiasm in the group and culturally we are in a good place at the back end of the tournament‚” Fleck said.
“Tactically and technically we have to smarten up and we are going to put ourselves under pressure to perform. We have qualified but this games is still important to us so we can build towards the quarters.”
Captain Siya Kolisi warned that his side needed to think about the big picture.
“Our goal is to win Super Rugby and we can’t play like we did against the Sunwolves last week‚” Kolisi said.
“We want to improve and build every week and build towards to the play-offs. We are not worried about scorelines‚ it’s just about building.”
Fleck added: “We want to make a step-up in a number of areas this weekend and we know that we will face a total onslaught from the Bulls‚ which is what we are looking for.
“We know that we are going to have to produce a big performance on Saturday and we are looking forward to the challenge‚” he said.
Stormers: 15 Dillyn Leyds‚ 14 Cheslin Kolbe‚ 13 EW Viljoen‚ 12 Damian de Allende‚ 11 Seabelo Senatla‚ 10 Damian Willemse‚ 9 Jano Vermaak‚ 8 Nizaam Carr‚ 7 Rynhardt Elstadt‚ 6 Siya Kolisi (captain)‚ 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit‚ 4 Eben Etzebeth‚ 3 Frans Malherbe‚ 2 Bongi Mbonambi‚ 1 JC Janse van Rensburg.
Replacements: 16 Ramone Samuels‚ 17 Steven Kitshoff‚ 18 Wilco Louw‚ 19 Chris van Zyl‚ 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe‚ 21 Justin Phillips‚ 22 Juan de Jongh‚ 23 Dan Kriel.