Grant at flyhalf for Blues
Cape Town - Stormers coach Allister Coetzee has issued an endorsement to the combination that won the first two games in Vodacom Super Rugby by naming a largely unchanged team for Friday night’s crucial match against the Blues at Newlands.
Kick-off is at 19:10.
The only change to the starting team that beat the Sharks two weeks ago is an anticipated one, with Peter Grant returning to the No 10 jersey for the first time since last year’s Super Rugby semi-final against the Crusaders at Newlands. Grant came on as a replacement in the coastal derby and won the game for the Stormers with a kick, but this will be his first start of 2012.
“We all know what Peter can bring and he is an experienced player who is strong on both defence and attack so it wasn’t a difficult decision to bring him back now that he is available,” said Coetzee.
“At the moment we don’t know who will take the goalkicking responsibility, Peter or Joe Pietersen. We will wait until Thursday’s captain’s practice. Once we see who is kicking well there we will have a better idea and the decision will be taken between the players and the kicking coach, Greg Hechter. It’s about whoever is feeling confident near the time. We know they can both do the job.”
Gary van Aswegen is the player who makes way for Grant, but he will continue his rugby education and his introduction to Super Rugby by playing off the bench against a team that Coetzee rates highly.
“The Blues are extremely dangerous and from the outset they were tipped to be one of the top sides in the competition this year,” said the coach.
“We saw last week against a very good Bulls team what the Blues are capable of. They came to South Africa with two defeats on their record, but they lost narrowly to the Crusaders in their opening match, a game which the Blues could have won in the last minute. The match against the Chiefs was really their only off-night. We know we are going to have to pitch on Friday night.”
Skipper Jean de Villiers stressed the importance of the backline hitting the straps in this game after some iffish performances in the previous games.
“We relied on the forwards to get us through in the last two games and we can’t afford to let that continue. We know it’s time that we as the backs also start producing on the field,” said De Villiers.
The good news for the Stormers is that prop Deon Carstens and lock Rynhardt Elstadt, both of whom have been out injured since the start of the season, will be making their comebacks to rugby for the Western Province Vodacom Cup team this weekend.
15 Joe Pietersen, 14 Gio Aplon, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Jean de Villiers (captain), 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Peter Grant, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Nick Koster, 7 Duane Vermeulen, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Andries Bekker, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Tiaan Liebenberg, 1 Steven Kitshoff
Substitutes: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 Frans Malherbe, 18 De Kock Steenkamp, 19 Nizaam Carr, 20 Louis Schreuder, 21 Gary van Aswegen, 22 Gerhard van den Heever