Stormers will miss Deon Fourie's fire and fortitude
But they will have fit-again Moerat and Gelant on their bench
Deon Fourie's absence will come as a huge blow to a Stormers hoping to secure a seventh straight win at home in the United Rugby Championship (URC) against Glasgow Warriors on Friday.
Fourie has not sufficiently recovered from what has been described a minor leg injury and will sit this out.
The combative loose forward and former hooker has become a vital cog in the Stormers' armoury. He may not strike one as an obvious hero but Fourie, a resourcefully dogged flank, has helped bring balance to the Stormers' game.
In attack he pops up in places you'd least expect but it is his ability to stunt the opposition's momentum, especially the timing of his steals at the breakdown that makes him such an asset. In fact, he boasts the tournament's highest number of turnovers with 20.
What the Stormers may lose, especially when they are on the back foot, they will partly gain in his replacement Junior Pokomela's industry in attack.
Crucially for the Stormers their substitutes' bench will be bolstered by the return of lock Salmaan Moerat, a long term injury casualty, as well as fullback Warrick Gelant, a player who has become all too familiar with the physio's bench.
“It is fantastic to welcome back the likes of Salmaan and Warrick, while also keeping some continuity in the team,” said coach John Dobson.
Both will add immense value to the Stormers' effort in a match that could bring them a significant step closer to conference honours.
Gelant brings options
The versatile Gelant's return is timely as it allows the Stormers to deploy six forwards to their bench in anticipation of a close combat confrontation with the Scots.
Malherbe, now with a few games under the belt, is likely to increase his impact in those exchanges but the Stormers will be careful not become too preoccupied with a forward-based arm wrestle.
No 8 Evan Roos has been the tournament's most successful ball carrier, wing Leolin Zas (9) is now the top try scorer, while Gelant is second with his number of offloads. All that has helped Manie Libbok (127) to lead the point scoring chart.
What must please Dobson is that his team is as comfortable rumbling upfront as dazzling at the back. Added to that they have developed the required game management to extricate themselves from tight situations.
The Stormers have found different ways of getting the job done and they can be sure the redoubtable Warriors will demand they put on show their entire skill set on Friday.
Warriors bring stern test
The Warriors, who have 10 wins from their 15 matches, may draw inspiration from log leaders Leinster leaving many of their frontline players at home for their clashes against the Sharks and the Stormers over the next two weekends. Leinster are 10 points ahead of Ulster and the Warriors but twin defeats in SA could put top spot back in dispute.
The Stormers know what is coming. “We know that we are in for another real test, so the focus is on taking another step-up on Friday,” Dobson said.
Stormers XV — Damian Willemse; Seabelo Senatla, Ruhan Nel, Rikus Pretorius, Leolin Zas; Manie Libbok, Herschel Jantjies; Evan Roos, Hacjivah Dayimani, Junior Pokomela; Marvin Orie, Adre Smith; Frans Malherbe, Scarra Ntubeni, Steven Kitshoff (captain). Substitutes: JJ Kotze, Ali Vermaak, Brok Harris, Salmaan Moerat, Ben-Jason Dixon, Nama Xaba; Paul de Wet, Warrick Gelant.
Would you like to comment on this article or view other readers' comments? Register (it’s quick and free) or sign in now.
Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.