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    Elstadt set for lock switch

    2014-01-28 13:00
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    Gavin Rich - SuperSport

    Cape Town - Rynhardt Elstadt will be making the switch back to the position where he first made his name for the Stormers when the Cape team plays the first Vodacom Super Rugby warm-up match of the season against the Bulls in Polokwane at the weekend.

    According to the supersport.com website, with Andries Bekker having departed for Japan and Eben Etzebeth and De Kock Steenkamp both injured, Stormers coach Allister Coetzee has confirmed that he sees the burly Elstadt as a second row forward rather than a flanker at this stage of the build-up to Super Rugby.

    A revelation in the Stormers second row in the 2011 season, when he built his reputation around several fired up showings in the No4 jersey, the emergence of Etzebeth in 2012 meant that Elstadt was first sidelined and then shifted to blindside flank. But Coetzee hasn’t forgotten his performances at lock, and is looking forward to seeing him start the new season in that position.

    “Rynhardt was one of two players, the other being Pat Cilliers, that underwent an operation during the off-season, and if anything, he is a couple of weeks ahead of where he should have been in his recovery,” said Coetzee.

    “I’ve been very impressed with how hard Rynhardt has trained and he is looking really strong and conditioned. He will have no problem switching back to lock and we will be looking to use him there against the Bulls.”

    Also up for an appearance against the Bulls is young Ruan Botha, the young former Lions age-group player who was unable to play for the Stormers in his first season in the Cape because of a serious injury that required an operation.

    “Ruan will probably start against the Bulls, and it will be a good baptism for him against a very strong Bulls lineout,” said Coetzee.

    “He is a highly promising player and it was just unfortunate that for much of last year he was injured. Even when he did come back he was a bit overweight because of his lay-off, but he is looking great and in excellent condition as the new season approaches and this is his chance to show us what he can do.”

    Botha, who was a member of the WP under-21 side that won the national age-group competition last season, will get his chance to play in Polokwane because big Argentinian Manuel Carizza, who has impressed the Stormers coaching staff in the pre-season, will be unavailable for the season pipe-opener.

    “Carizza has a slight injury, just a bit of tightness, so we have decided it would be better not to play him this weekend,” said Coetzee.

    The coach confirmed that while Carizza will be back in the thick of things shortly, the experienced Steenkamp will probably miss the opening Super Rugby fixture against the Lions in Johannesburg on 22 February.

    “I doubt that De Kock will be back then. He is having a few more medical assessments done on the groin that has been bothering him since last season and we don’t where he stands at this stage.”

    With so many locks missing, Coetzee said that Michael Rhodes, like Elstadt also a player who flits between second row and blindside flank, would also be seen as more of a lock for the time being.

    Coetzee will name his team for the Polokwane clash on Wednesday but gave journalists who attended a press conference at Bellville on Monday the names of the 26 players who will make up the match day squad. All 26 players will be eligible to play in the game but there will be no rolling substitutions, meaning that once a player comes off he will not be able to return to the playing field.

    Another player not available for Polokwane because of a slight injury is fullback Jaco Taute, with Ryno Eksteen, the talented former Bulls Schools flyhalf, being given an opportunity to prove that he qualifies as back-up in that position.

    Stormers squad for Polokwane:

    Ryno Eksteen, Gio Aplon, Damian de Allende, Scott van Breda, Juan de Jongh, Jean de Villiers, Kobus van Wyk, Gary van Aswegen, Demetri Catrakilis, Louis Schreuder, Nic Groom, Duane Vermeulen, Nizaam Carr, Siya Kolisi, Schalk Burger, Deon Fourie, Jean Kleyn, Ruan Botha, Michael Rhodes, Rynhardt Elstadt, Justin Ackermann, Ollie Kebble, Frans Malherbe, Steven Kitshoff, Scarra Ntubeni, Tiaan Liebenberg

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