Interesting subtle changes to Stormers team
If you were at a DHL Stormers press conference on Tuesday where Matt Proudfoot spoke so highly of Eben Etzebeth’s potential to be a star No 5 lock, the team announcement less than 24 hours would come as a complete shock to you.
With De Kock Steenkamp returning from a short injury layoff, Etzebeth has moved back to No 4 to accommodate Steenkamp as the lineout leader and middle of the lineout jumper in the team to play a Vodacom Super Rugby match against the Southern Kings at Newlands on Saturday.
In the other change to the side that beat the Reds 20-15 at Newlands last week, Deon Fourie is also back from injury. But again there is a subtle change to what might have been expected, with Fourie coming in as the No 7 flanker.
Fourie has always played openside when he has played flank in the past, but Fourie said he was happy with the way the Siya Kolisi went at No 6 last week.
Don Armand, who better fits the stereotype of a blindside flank than Fourie does, drops to the bench, and he is joined there by Gerbrandt Grobler. Was the move of Fourie to No 7 an admission by the Stormers management that they had to accommodate the more senior player somewhere in the combination regardless of where he slots in?
Saturday’s game will provide the answer, for the one thing the Stormers coaches can never be accused of is lacking a plan.
The Steenkamp move wouldn’t be surprising on the grounds of the experience that he brings as a lineout caller and jumper, and perhaps head coach Allister Coetzee is just trying to avoid risk in what could be a tightly contested game considering the rain storm that is being predicted for Saturday afternoon.
“Eben did do very well as the No 5 lock against the Reds but you have to remember that was just one game,” said Coetzee in explaining the selection.
“You need several games before you can be sure about something, and De Kock is a senior player who, even though he has played No 4 most of this season, has been the back-up to Andries Bekker for some time.”
Coetzee added that the dropping of Grobler and Armand to the bench had bolstered the reserve strength and the Stormers will be looking for it to pay off.
Stormers team: Joe Pietersen, Gio Aplon, Jean de Villiers (capt), Damian de Allende, Bryan Habana, Elton Jantjies, Louis Schreuder, Nizaam Carr, Deon Fourie, Siya Kolisi, De Kock Steenkamp, Eben Etzebeth, Brok Harris, Tiaan Liebenberg, Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: Martin Bezuidenhout, Chris Heiberg, Gerbrandt Grobler, Don Armand, Dewaldt Duvenage, Gary van Aswegen, Gerhard van den Heever.