Wholesale changes for Stormers
If you count all the positional switches, of which there are several, the Stormers have made nine changes to their team for Saturday’s crucial Super Rugby clash with the Lions at Newlands.
The positional changes see Gio Aplon return to the right wing to accommodate the return of Joe Pietersen at fullback, with Gerhard van den Heever moving from right wing to left wing to cover for Bryan Habana, who is being rested.
At loose-forward Siya Kolisi moves from openside flank to No 8, with Jebb Sinclair dropping to the bench after returning from international action with Canada.
You could even list a positional switch in the second row, with De Kock Steenkamp moving to No 4 lock to enable Andries Bekker to come back into the side as his lock partner. The big news is that Springbok hard man Eben Etzebeth has been ruled out of the match 22 with what has been listed as a stiff ankle.
In further changes Tyrone Holmes, the Western Province Vodacom Cup flanker, comes into the side in Kolisi’s previous No 6 jersey, with Don Armand making his anticipated first start on the blindside flank.
Frans Malherbe continues at tighthead ahead of Brok Harris after his solid performance against the Bulls, but Stormers coach Allister Coetzee has opted to field Deon Fourie as his starting hooker in place of Tiaan Liebenberg.
Many of the changes have been directed by injury, but there is also a clear intent to rest players who have battled with a heavy workload recently. Coetzee said though that the number of changes should in no way be interpreted as the Stormers taking the Lions lightly.
“One of the considerations we had was to select a side that could compete with the pace of the Lions, and in selecting players like Tyrone Holmes and Deon Fourie we feel we have done that,” said Coetzee.
“Some players have also been playing a lot of rugby lately, and with the possibility of us playing in the play-off stages, we feel we need to manage our resources. We are fortunate in that Siya Kolisi played his entire school career as a No 8. Jebb Sinclair is just back from playing for Canada, and he won’t be available for the knock-outs, so we need to start looking at other players we might need.
“Don Armand has been part of our whole campaign in the sense that he has been a regular member of our squad. He is the big ball carrying No 7 we need, and he has also played four times now as a reserve and done well so this is not a new experience for him and he deserves a chance. Tyrone was a good player for WP a few years ago and then went to Griquas, where he did well, so it is not like he lacks experience.”
DHL Stormers team: Joe Pietersen, Gio Aplon, Juan de Jongh, Jean de Villiers (captain), Gerhard van den Heever, Peter Grant, Dewaldt Duvenage, Siya Kolisi, Don Armand, Tyrone Holmes, Andries Bekker, De Kock Steenkamp, Frans Malherbe, Deon Fourie, Deon Carstens.
Replacements: Tiaan Liebenberg, Brok Harris, Quinn Roux, Jebb Sinclair, Louis Schreuder, Burton Francis, Bryan Habana.