Stormers welcome return of Deon Fourie for Champions Cup clash with Stade Rochelais

05 April 2024 - 16:00
By Stuart Hess
Deon Fourie returns to the Stormers starting team for Saturday's much-anticipated clash with Stade Rochelais in the Champions Cup.
Image: Grant Pitcher/Gallo Images Deon Fourie returns to the Stormers starting team for Saturday's much-anticipated clash with Stade Rochelais in the Champions Cup.

The Stormers have welcomed the return of Deon Fourie for their Champions Cup date with Stade Rochelais in Cape Town on Saturday. 

The round of 16 clash will provide a gauge for South African provincial rugby’s growth since shifting attention from Super Rugby. Fourie’s return from injury provides critical experience close to the heart of the action against the defending champions.

The 37-year-old utility forward, who spent seven years playing in France, missed the last two weeks of action with a rib injury.

His return sees Hacjivah Dayimani shift to the bench in one of four changes to the Stormers’ starting line-up from the side that scraped a 13-7 win over Ulster in the URC last week. 

Hooker Joseph Dweba and flank Ben-Jason Dixon, are the other changes in the pack, while Herschel Jantjies starts at scrumhalf with Paul de Wet among the replacements. 

Fourie’s breakdown battle with the tank-like Levani Botia looms as one of the highlights of a match in which the Stormers, despite home ground advantage, are underdogs.

“We are very happy to have Deon back in the mix and this promises to be a heavyweight clash against one of the best teams around,” said Stormers director of rugby John Dobson.

Stade Rochelais named a powerful line-up with Botia part of a monstrous loose-forward trio that includes Judicaël Cancoriet and skipper Gregory Aldritt. 

Among the backs Jonathan Danty’s robustness will test the defence of Damian Willemse at inside centre and that of flyhalf Mani Libbok.

“We want to make the most of the opportunity to play at DHL Stadium in front of our fans. There should be an incredible atmosphere if the last two weeks are anything to go by,” said Dobson.

Stormers: Warrick Gelant, Suleiman Hartzenberg, Dan du Plessis, Damian Willemse, Leolin Zas, Manie Libbok, Herschel Jantjies, Evan Roos, Ben-Jason Dixon, Deon Fourie, Ruben van Heerden, Salmaan Moerat (capt), Neethling Fouche, Joseph Dweba, Brok Harris. Replacements — Andre-Hugo Venter, Leon Lyons, Frans Malherbe, Adre Smith, Hacjivah Dayimani, Marcel Theunissen, Paul de Wet, Ben Loader

Stade Rochelais: Brice Dulin, Teddy Thomas, Ulupano Seuteni, Jonathan Danty, Dillyn Lleyds, Anthony Hastoy, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Gregory Aldritt (capt), Levani Botia, Judicaël Cancoriet, Will Skelton, Ultan Dillane, Uini Antonio, Tolu Latu, Louis Peneverne Replacements — Quentin Lespiaucq, Alexandre Kaddouri, Joel Sclavi, Thomas Lavault, Paul Boudehent, Yoan Tanga, Teddy Iribaren, Ihaia West.