New combo excites Stormers
Cape Town - A spate of injuries has forced the Stormers coach Allister Coetzee to settle for an untried midfield pairing against the Bulls in Saturday's Super Rugby clash in Cape Town.
Outside centre Juan de Jongh has been moved to inside centre and will be partnered by wing Sailosi Tagicakibau, who is no stranger to the midfield position.
"It is the view of Robbie Fleck (backline coach) that Juan wants to get his hands on the ball more and this is his chance," Coetzee said at the team announcement at Newlands on Wednesday.
"He's never played with Tagicakibau in a centre combination before but it will be a great challenge for them both.
"Defensively they are also strong and they not unfamiliar with those roles.
"They will give us an extra attacking force in our backline."
Fleck has had to prepare a backline stripped of its primary talents due to the injury-enforced absences of Damian de Allende and Jean de Villiers.
Kobus van Wyk, earmarked for one of the centre berths, also picked up a calf injury at training on Tuesday and joined the ranks of the walking wounded. He was expected to be sidelined for at least a month.
His woes opened the way for Springbok Sevens star Seabelo Senatla who was named on the bench.
"Initially, the plan was to use Seabelo during the Currie Cup but now with Kobus' injury he has a chance to play Super Rugby," Coetzee said.
"Seabelo is an exciting selection for us - and the player."
Gio Aplon had recovered sufficiently from an elbow injury to take up one of the wing berths before his season-end departure for France.
"I am just happy to see Gio back so that he can play for the Stormers before he goes off.
"At the same time Gio's return is timely because he brings the necessary experience for youngsters like Seabelo and Cheslin Kolbe to flourish around him."
In the absence of De Villiers, flank Schalk Burger would lead the side and he said the Stormers were looking to produce something special.
"We're losing a few guys at the end of the season so we want it to be a special send-off and finish off on a high note," Burger said.
"It's going to be a massive game and in local derbies you can expect lots of feeling and physicality.
"The wet conditions will make it a tough game so the basics must be solid."
When the Stormers last played the Bulls in May, the Capetonians were quick out of the blocks and ran up an early 12-0 lead but the Bulls staged a brilliant fightback.
"In our previous game against the Bulls we started off well and put them under pressure but then our exits out of our half became poor," he said.
"As a result, they managed to pin us in our half for much of the game. Teams:Stormers:
"But this team has improved bit by bit and it is going to be a tactical challenge.
"The two sides have very different styles."
15. Jaco Taute, 14. Gio Aplon, 13. Sailosi Tagicakibau, 12. Juan de Jongh, 11. Cheslin Kolbe, 10. Kurt Coleman, 9. Nic Groom, 8. Duane Vermeulen, 7. Schalk Burger (captain), 6. Nizaam Carr, 5. Ruan Botha, 4. Michael Rhodes, 3. Pat Cilliers, 2. Deon Fourie, 1. Alistair Vermaak
Substitutes:16. Tiaan Liebenberg, 17. Sti Sithole, 18. Martin Dreyer, 19. Manuel Carizza, 20. Siya Kolisi, 21. Louis Schreuder, 22. Peter Grant, 23. Seabelo SenatlaBulls: