Coleman set for pivot role
Kurt Coleman (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - It's just as well for the Stormers that rugby is not played on paper because backline coach Robbie Fleck admits to getting "quite nervous" when he glances at the Brumbies' teamsheet for Saturday's Super Rugby match in Canberra.
On the face of it there is no reason for concern - even the Lions beat the Brumbies on their home patch this year - but no team that includes Wallaby stars such as Matt Giteau, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Mark Chisholm and Stephen Moore could ever be taken lightly.
Especially not by a team that's never won a Super Rugby game in Canberra.
"When you glance at the team on paper you get nervous. Giteau is tactically smart and a special player. He can run with the ball, kick and defend," said Fleck.
"He's really pushing them hard to get back on track and one gets the impression there is a revival."
With Peter Grant struggling with an ankle injury, it seems there is a good chance that 21-year-old Kurt Coleman will get the chance to measure himself against Wallaby veteran Giteau.
"We're getting used to dealing with a crisis at No 10 by now. It's tough for the continuity of the backs, but the team has adapted well every time and the team management has handled it well," said Fleck.
"I'm comfortable with Kurt. He had some neat touches against the Crusaders and put in some big hits. He has also been involved in the majority of our training sessions this week."
If Coleman grabs his chance on the big stage, there is a definite chance that the Stormers' attack could benefit. Both he and scrumhalf Dewaldt Duvenage distribute the ball really well.
"Different players have different strengths. When Gary van Aswegen played for just 12 minutes for us against the Lions before his injury, there was suddenly width in our game," said Fleck.
"Peter Grant attacks the advantage line, defends well and organises. Kurt has an excellent pass and it may well help to release our outside backs."
Meanwhile, the Brumbies have had the bad news this week that they may have to play the rest of their campaign without Wallaby captain and flank Rocky Elsom.
There may well have been a sigh of relief in the Stormers camp with that news, though Mitchell Chapman returns from injury to wear the No 6 jersey and provides leadership in the lineouts for the Brumbies.
Ita Vaea also returns at No 8 and that means that Julian Salvi moves to openside flank, where he replaces Colby Faingaa.
15 Pat McCabe, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tyrone Smith, 12 Christian Lealiifano, 11 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 10 Matt Giteau (c), 9 Josh Valentine, 8 Ita Vaea, 7 Julian Salvi, 6 Mitchell Chapman, 5 Mark Chisholm, 4 Ben Hand, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Jono Owen.
Substitutes: 16 Anthony Hegarty, 17 Jerry Yanuyanutawa, 18 Peter Kimlin, 19 Michael Hooper, 20 Patrick Phibbs, 21 Robbie Coleman, 22 Andrew Smith.
15 Conrad Jantjes, 14 Gio Aplon, 13 Jaque Fourie, 12 Juan de Jongh, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Peter Grant/Kurt Coleman, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Nick Koster, 7 Francois Louw, 6 Schalk Burger (captain), 5 Andries Bekker, 4 Rynhardt Elstadt, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Deon Fourie, 1 Wicus Blaauw
Substitutes: 16 Tiaan Liebenberg, 17 Stephen Kitshoff, 18 Anton van Zyl, 19 Duane Vermeulen, 20 Ricky Januarie, 21 Jean de Villiers, 22 Johann Sadie