Vodacom Super Rugby
Jean fires up Stormers backs
Jean de Villiers (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - While the Stormers have relied heavily on their forwards to lay the foundation for their game plans this season, captain Jean de Villiers feels the onus will be on his fellow backs to carry the can on Friday.
The Stormers face New Zealand outfit the Hurricanes in their Super Rugby encounter in Palmerston North.
Kick-off is at 09:35 SA time.
"The Hurricanes have a quality backline and that's a challenge for us," De Villiers said after the Stormers team was announced on Wednesday.
"They play a style that is attacking and they don't mind taking chances.
"This is one game where our backline will have to front up, more so than the forwards."
Stormers wing Bryan Habana would make his return from a knee injury against the Hurricanes, it was revealed, after seven weeks on the sidelines, but Stormers coach Allister Coetzee said flyhalf Elton Jantjies was not yet fit for action.
Damien de Allende drops to the bench, to make way for Habana, while Gio Aplon shifts across to the right wing.
"It's always great to get back a player of his quality," De Villiers said of his Springbok team-mate.
"Obviously it will help a lot with the decision-making on the field as well.
"It takes a bit of pressure off me, having another senior player back, and hopefully that's the last injury he will get in a Stormers jersey."
In other changes made to the side, Coetzee said Pat Cilliers would start at tighthead prop, while hooker Scarra Ntubeni, prop Brok Harris, Rynhardt Elstadt (lock and flank cover) and scrumhalf Nic Groom would join the matchday squad on the bench.
Ntubeni picked up a shoulder injury during pre-season training, while Elstadt also returns from a shoulder niggle after missing their last two matches.
Louis Schreuder would provide flyhalf cover from the bench, Coetzee confirmed, with Jantjies given one more week to be ready for their next clash against the Blues in Albany.
"Elton trained well this week," Coetzee said.
"I said earlier in the week that he was at 80 percent, but we want to ensure that he has a full week of training (next week) and that we have him ready for the Blues match.
"(Prop) Frans Malherbe is also getting a break this week, mainly as part of our rotation policy, but also to rest a slight AC-joint injury which he suffered against the Sharks."
The media build-up to the match had been overshadowed by the publicity of Hurricanes wing Julian Savea, who was slapped with an assault charge earlier this week. On Wednesday, Savea decided to withdraw from the team.
"We've read about it (Savea's court case) and it's not a nice thing but it does not affect us," De Villiers said.
"We focus on what is happening in our team and we know that whoever will replace him will be just as capable.”
15. Joe Pietersen, 14. Gio Aplon, 13. Juan de Jongh, 12. Jean de Villiers (captain), 11. Bryan Habana, 10. Gary van Aswegen, 9. Dewaldt Duvenage, 8. Duane Vermeulen, 7. Michael Rhodes, 6. Siya Kolisi, 5. Andries Bekker, 4. De Kock Steenkamp, 3. Pat Cilliers, 2. Deon Fourie, 1. Steven Kitshoff
Substitutes: 16. Scarra Ntubeni, 17. Brok Harris, 18. Rynardt Elstadt, 19. Nizaam Carr, 20. Nic Groom 21. Louis Schreuder, 22. Damian de Allende
15 Andre Taylor, Alapati Leiua, Conrad Smith
(captain), Tim Bateman, Matt Proctor, 10. Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara,
8. Victor Vito, Karl Low, Brad Shields, 5. Jason Eaton, Jeremy Thrush,
3. Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, Motu Matu’u, Ben Franks
Substitutes: 16. Ash Dixon, 17. Ben May, 18. Mark Reddish, 19. Faifili Levave, 20. Ardie Savea, 21. Chris Smylie, 22. Tusi Pisi