Cape Town - Springbok captain Jean de Villiers has recovered from his sternum injury and will lead the Stormers against the Bulls in Saturday's Super Rugby clash at Newlands.
De Villiers has missed the Stormers’ last two wins, over the Cheetahs and the Kings, but his return to the starting line-up is one of five changes (one of which is positional) ahead of Saturday’s meeting with the newly-crowned SA conference winners (kick-off 19:10).
The return of De Villiers sees Damian de Allende drop to the bench, whilst, in other changes, Gio Aplon shifts from wing to fullback (in place of the injured Joe Pietersen
), Gerhard van den Heever comes onto the right-wing, Gary van Aswegen will start at flyhalf and Rynhardt Elstadt returns at No 7.
Speaking about the return of De Villiers and the selection of Van Aswegen, coach Allister Coetzee
explained: “Jean is the captain and the incumbent No 12, the plan was always to bring him straight back if he was fit. With Gio at fullback, a left-footer, bringing in Gary at flyhalf gives us the important option of having the combination of a left- and right-footed kicker (in our backline).”
Don Armand and Elton Jantjies
join De Allende (who has recovered from an ankle niggle) on the bench this week, while Springbok prop Pat Cilliers - who, like Elstadt made his return to action last week against the Kings - is named amongst the replacements once again.
Record-breaking wing Bryan Habana
will be playing in his final match for the Stormers, which will be his 57th appearance for the franchise, having scored 18 tries in the process.
Looking ahead to Saturday, Coetzee told the Stormers website
: “A North/South Derby is always a big game, it doesn’t matter that there’s no pressure or that you’re playing for academic reasons. There’s a lot of pride at stake and we want to finish on a high.
“It’s massively important for us to win this weekend. We’ve only lost to the Crusaders here (at home) this year and we lost to the Bulls at Newlands in 2011, so we’d like to finish on a high and carry that momentum into the next competition.” Teams:
15. Gio Aplon, 14. Gerhard van den Heever, 13. Juan de Jongh, 12. Jean de Villiers (captain), 11. Bryan Habana
, 10. Gary van Aswegen, 9. Louis Schreuder, 8. Nizaam Carr, 7. Rynhardt Elstadt, 6. Deon Fourie (vice-captain), 5. De Kock Steenkamp, 4. Eben Etzebeth
, 3. Brok Harris
, 2. Scarra Ntubeni, 1. Steven Kitshoff
Substitutes: 16. Martin Bezuidenhout, 17. Pat Cilliers, 18. Gerbrandt Grobler, 19. Don Armand, 20. Nic Groom, 21. Elton Jantjies
, 22. Damian de AllendeBulls:
15 Zane Kirchner
, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JJ Engelbrecht
, 12 Francois Venter
, 11 Bjorn Basson
, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Jano Vermaak
, 8 Dewald Potgieter
(captain), 7 Jacques Potgieter, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Grant Hattingh, 4 Flip van der Merwe, 3 Werner Kruger
, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle
, 1 Dean Greyling
Substitutes: 16 Callie Visagie, 17 Frik Kirsten, 18 Morné Mellet, 19 Jacques du Plessis, 20 Jono Ross, 21 Rudy Paige, 22 Jürgen Visser