Watson on bench for opener?
Cape Town. – Duane Vermeulen is believed to have the inside track to start at No 8 ahead of Luke Watson in the Stormers’ Super 14 opener against the Sharks at Newlands on Saturday.
While the Stormers held closed training sessions on Monday and Tuesday, the chances are apparently good that the loose-trio will consist of Schalk Burger, Francois Louw and Vermeulen.
It is anticipated that Watson will be on the bench when coach Rassie Erasmus on Wednesday announces his 22-man squad for the game.
Burger, who will play his 50th game for the Stormers, has apparently shaved off his blonde locks. “He almost looks a little like Wicus Blaauw,” said a team insider.
Vermeulen had an outstanding Super 14 with the Cheetahs last year and signed for Western Province in November. The composition of the Stormers loose-trio is one of the big talking points ahead of the game.
It is believed that Louw has recovered from his injury and Vermeulen did enough in the pre-season to win a place in the starting line-up and by yesterday afternoon there was still no certainty over the back three.
Fijian wing Sireli Naqelevuki is still recovering after injuring his ribs in the warm-up game against Boland. Erasmus said last week he would not expose Naqelevuki to risk.
The Stormers coach has several options, including asking Springbok fullback Conrad Jantjes to wear the No 11 jersey. Jantjes struggled with a groin injury in the pre-season, but is expected to be in the Stormers’ 22-man squad. Joe Pietersen and Nick Koster can also play on the wing.