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Coetzee: No reason to change
Allister Coetzee (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - Stormers coach Allister Coetzee says he needs to keep backing his players and therefore decided to name an unchanged starting team to face the Chiefs at Newlands on Saturday.
However, the bench shows two changes from the one which did duty in a losing cause against the Sharks in their Super Rugby derby in Durban last weekend.
"We've gone with an unchanged team because it is important to keep backing the players," Stormers coach Allister Coetzee said on Wednesday.
"I don't see any reason to change the situation and this weekend hopefully they will continue to show improvement."
Springbok hooker Tiaan Liebenberg finally returns to action after a lengthy injury-enforced layoff and Martin Bezuidenhout has dropped out of the match-day 22.
Scrumhalf Dewaldt Duvenage replaces Louis Schreuder on the bench after Nic Groom was retained in the run-on XV.
"We've just come off two real physical battles and it's going to be a physical battle out there on Saturday," Coetzee said.
"This week we're playing against the champions and the battle will be even more uphill.
"By retaining the same team, we're giving some of the injured players an extra week for rehabilitation."
The Stormers' season could go badly wrong if they suffer another defeat but playing at Newlands has helped to bolster their self-belief.
"We'll have passionate support behind us which will provide us with a push, and playing the champs will require a big step up in all departments of the game," the Stormers mentor said.
"We know there has to be accuracy in all areas of the game and the players will have to have the energy and effort to succeed.
"This season we've seen the Chiefs have a big pack of forwards and a great set-piece."
Flyhalf Elton Jantjies has been relieved of the place-kicking duties so that he can concentrate on his tactical and drop-out kicking.
He is still nowhere to his best form but Coetzee felt Peter Grant was not quite ready for a run-on berth.
"The best way to help Elton is to give him a chance to play," said Coetzee.
"It has been very different from what he's been used to when he played for the Lions.
"There is the danger of personal hurt if Elton continues to do the place-kicking and he continues to fail. Now he can concentrate on his natural game instead of carrying the burden of kicking for poles."
Stormers stand-in skipper Jean de Villiers said the Chiefs posed different challenges to their first two outings in the tournament.
"This week it's about adapting to the way we'll be challenged," De Villiers said.
"The Chiefs are good at what they do and their play is both entertaining and clever.
"They don't kick too much back and they keep up the pressure on their opponents.
"Once we strike a balance between balance and attack, we'll also be producing an entertaining brand of rugby."
Kick-off is at 17:05 on Saturday.
15. Joe Pietersen, 14. Gio Aplon, 13. Jean de Villiers (captain), 12. Damian de Allende, 11. Bryan Habana, 10. Elton Jantjies, 9. Nic Groom, 8. Duane Vermeulen, 7. Rynhardt Elstadt, 6. Siya Kolisi, 5. Andries Bekker, 4. De Kock Steenkamp, 3. Frans Malherbe, 2. Deon Fourie, 1. Steven Kitshoff
Substitutes: 16. Tiaan Liebenberg, 17. Pat Cilliers, 18. Don Armand, 19. Nizaam Carr, 20. Dewaldt Duvenhage, 21. Peter Grant, 22. Gerhard van den Heever
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)