Vodacom Super Rugby
Coetzee: Sadie has X-factor
Gavin Rich - SuperSport
Johann Sadie (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - The DHL Stormers have produced a major surprise in their selection for Saturday's long awaited Vodacom Super Rugby clash with the Crusaders at Newlands by selecting young centre Johann Sadie on the wing.
With Bryan Habana ruled out of the match with a rib injury picked up against the Sharks, the expectation was that coach Allister Coetzee would recall Danie Poolman, who did well in the first half of the season but made way for the return of Habana after the bye.
However it is former Western Province under-21 centre Sadie who has been included on the Stormers team sheet in the No 14 jersey, with Gio Aplon switching from right wing to left wing.
Although Sadie has played a couple of minutes for the Stormers as a replacement, this will be his first ever start at Super Rugby level, and it will be in an unfamiliar position.
However, Coetzee defended the apparent gamble by pointing to Sadie's superb attacking skills.
"We felt that against a team like the Crusaders we needed to have a player on the wing who had X-factor, so with Bryan out we felt that Johann was the man to go for," said Coetzee.
"Sadie is an exciting player who has the X-factor that we want, he is a player who can make things happen for us. It is not that we are dispensing with Danie Poolman, just that Danie is a solid and reliable player who doesn't really have the ingredients, the X-factor, that we are looking for. Danie will probably come on tour with us and we will be using him again."
Sadie scored a try as a replacement in the Stormers' win over the Lions in the last match before the bye, but was back in the WP midfield in last week's Vodacom Cup quarter-final defeat to the Sharks XV. It is not known whether he has played wing before - certainly all his representative rugby in the Western Cape has been at centre.
There is no denying though that he is potentially a special player and in terms of pace and ability to capitalise on half opportunities he is more in the Habana mould than Poolman is.
The selection of Sadie was the only change to the side that beat the Sharks 32-12 last weekend, with the entire pack that won the bruising forward battle back to front up again even though some players, such as skipper Schalk Burger, are still carrying the bruises and scars of the derby.
Peter Grant still hasn't trained since sustaining his knee injury in the Reds game and Coetzee confirmed that he will definitely not be taking the field against the Crusaders even though he was bracketed with Lionel Cronje in the initial team sheet distributed at the team announcement press conference.
A couple of players sat out of Wednesday afternoon's training session but Coetzee said they had all participated fully in the morning practice, including Tiaan Liebenberg, the experienced hooker who makes his way back into Super Rugby by playing off the Stormers bench on Saturday.
He replaces former Lions hooker Ethienne Reynecke in the only other change to the 22 that did duty against the Sharks.
15. Conrad Jantjes, 14. Johann Sadie, 13. Jaque Fourie, 12. Jean De Villiers, 11. Gio Aplon, 10. Lionel Cronje, 9. Dewaldt Duvenage, 8. Duane Vermeulen, 7. Francois Louw, 6. Schalk Burger (captain), 5. Andries Bekker, 4. Reynardt Elstadt, 3. CJ van der Linde, 2. Deon Fourie, 1. Wicus Blaauw
Substitutes: 16. Tiaan Liebenberg, 17. Brok Harris, 18. De Kock Steenkamp, 19. Nick Koster, 20. Ricky Januarie, 21. Kurt Coleman , 22. Juan De JonghCrusaders: