Coetzee explains Scarra snub
Cape Town - The Stormers sprang a surprise with the selection of hooker Bongi Mbonambi ahead of Scarra Ntubeni in the run-on XV to face the Lions in Saturday's Super Rugby clash in Johannesburg on Saturday (19:10 kick-off).
Of late, Mbonambi has been playing off the substitutes' bench but has been hugely impressive. Ntubeni has been at his consistent best after returning from injury at the start of the season but has yet to reach the form that made him a contender for Springbok selection a few months ago.
Stormers coach Allister Coetzee said selection changes were kept to a minimum and Mbonambi was a sound choice for a match on the Highveld.
"One remembers that Scarra has been making wonderful progress after his injury layoff and it is a good time to rotate him now," Coetzee told the media at Thursday's team announcement at Newlands. "Every time Bongi came off the bench he made an impact at the set-pieces and general play. It's a great situation to have where the players are pushing each other. We don't want to rotate players only because fatigue has set in."
Coetzee said the Highveld venue has also played a part in the choice of hooker, as Mbonambi has spent recent seasons there playing for the Bulls.
"The match is on the Highveld and you don't want to play Scarra into the ground," said Coetzee. "I'm happy to have Scarra playing off the bench which includes players he's worked well with in the past."
Stormers newcomer loosehead prop Vincent Koch has held on to his starting line-up berth despite the return of Springbok Frans Malherbe. Koch has been a tower of strength in the scrums and has produced excellent all-round performances.
"It was really good to see a young player (like Koch) get a chance and perform well," said Coetzee. "On the other hand it is good to get an experienced player back, and especially one that is a Springbok."
The other change was expected because of the long-term injury suffered by flank/lock Rynhardt Elstadt and Nizaam Carr moves into his place.
Carr, last season's Currie Cup Premier Division Player of the Year, is still working on his match preparedness and more game time should help him to recover his best form.
"In the case of Nemo (Carr) he still needs to make sure that he is sharper and that will happen with more game time," said Coetzee. "Compared to his form last year when he made the Springbok team, he is still off the mark."
The lineout was a problem area for the Stormers last week when the Blues caught them off guard with surprise tactics. However, the Stormers have retained the second-row pairing of Ruan Botha and Jurie van Vuuren, while there is relief on the bench in the form Argentinean international Manuel Carizza.
15. Andries Coetzee, 14. Ruan Combrinck, 13. Lionel Mapoe, 12. Harold Vorster, 11. Sampie Mastriet, 10. Elton Jantjies, 9. Faf de Klerk, 8. Warren Whiteley (captain), 7. Warwick Tecklenburg, 6. Jaco Kriel, 5. Martin Muller, 4. Franco Mostert, 3. Julian Redelinghuys, 2. Robbie Coetzee, 1. Schalk van der Merwe
Substitutes: 16. Armand van der Merwe, 17. Corne Fourie, 18. Ruan Dreyer, 19. Robert Kruger, 20. Derick Minnie, 21. Ross Cronje, 22. Jaco van der Walt, 23. Howard Mnisi
15. Cheslin Kolbe, 14. Johnny Kotze, 13. Juan de Jongh, 12. Damian de Allende, 11. Dillyn Leyds, 10. Demetri Catrakilis, 9. Nic Groom, 8. Duane Vermeulen (captain), 7. Michael Rhodes, 6. Nizaam Carr, 5. Ruan Botha, 4. Jurie van Vuuren, 3. Vincent Koch, 2. Bongi Mbonambi, 1. Steven Kitshoff
Substitutes: 16. Scarra Ntubeni, 17. Oli Kebble, 18. Frans Malherbe, 19. Manuel Carizza, 20. Siya Kolisi, 21. Louis Schreuder, 22. Kurt Coleman, 23. Huw Jones