Johannesburg - The Vodacom Stormers have made just one change to their team for the third Super 14 tour match against the Brumbies in Canberra on Saturday.
Out of the team that lost 12-6 goes loosehead prop Wicus Blaauw, with JD Moller regaining the No1 jersey that he last wore in the match against the Blues at Newlands last month. The change is brought about in part because of injury, with Blaauw carrying a calf injury that made him a doubtful starter for the Brumbies clash.
Instead of waiting on Blaauw until the weekend, coach Rassie Erasmus has opted to make the change now, with Schalk Ferreira being bracketed with Blaauw on the bench.
The retention of the rest of the match 22 that did duty against the Waratahs is an indication that Erasmus still has faith in his combinations, but it goes without saying that several players are going to have to lift their performances considerably if they are going to justify their places.
Of the players that started at Sydney Football Stadium, only Luke Watson and Schalk Brits showed the necessary urgency and managed to avoid the appearance that they were just going through the motions. However, the latter made some pretty basic handling errors, so it was only really Watson who was above reproach.
A lot of the criticism since Sydney has been levelled at Sireli Naqelevuki, but the big Fijian was not the only Stormers player who gave the impression that he either was never taught to pass and catch, or has just forgotten how.
Naqelevuki is in poor form, but those who have played against him say that he is deceptively fast in much the same way that it used to be said about Pieter Rossouw. His ability to engage three to four defenders when he has the ball remains a vital cog in any Stormers attacking strategy, and attacking strategy is something that will come more into focus from this week.
The Stormers have now played against all the best defensive teams in the competition, those who give little or nothing away. The Stormers attack was poor against the Waratahs and Crusaders but their effectiveness against the only two teams that have tried to play running rugby against them this season, the Reds and the Lions, suggests that their fortunes might change for the better once they run into teams that play into their hands by trying things and making mistakes.
The word from Canberra is that the Brumbies team are still reeling from the tragic death of Shawn Mackay, and the team has been further denuded by the loss to injury of star lock Mark Chisholm. An integral part of the Brumbies lineout and an important senior member of the team, Chisholm has sustained a dislocated wrist and will be out of rugby for the rest of the season. His probable replacement will be Peter Kimlin.
Conrad Jantjes, Wylie Human, Gcobani Bobo, Jean de Villiers, Sireli Naqelevuki, Peter Grant, Ricky Januarie, Luke Watson, Duane Vermeulen, Schalk Burger, AJ Venter, Adriaan Fondse, Brian Mujati, Schalk Brits, JD Moller.
Bench: Wicus Blaauw (Schalk Ferreira), Tiaan Liebenberg, Hilton Lobberts, Francois Louw, Dewald Duvenage, Dylan des Fountain, Willem de Waal.