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    Stormers: Grant lurks invitingly

    2013-02-27 15:38
    Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer
    Cape Town - Deft man-management by Stormers coach Allister Coetzee means that both Elton Jantjies and Peter Grant could offer key contributions at flyhalf during the Super Rugby derby against the Sharks in Durban on Saturday.

    As expected, left-footed Highveld recruit Jantjies is given an opportunity to make up for his decidedly imprecise showing in the opening-round defeat to the Bulls, staying in the starting line-up even as the street-smart Grant inches his way back toward seizure of the No 10 jersey by finding a rapid spot on the bench following completion of his Japanese commitments.

    The move undoubtedly cranks up the pressure on Jantjies, although at the same time the incumbent will probably be relieved to have kept his berth and determined to perform much closer to known all-round potential.

    Still, the on-loan Lions favourite did not yet seem to have fully restored his mojo off the kicking tee at Wednesday’s Bellville training session - where a stiff, swirling breeze hardly helped matters - and significantly the Stormers are keeping their options open in that area for the Kings Park tussle.

    “We still need to decide on that (place-kicking),” Coetzee told a media briefing afterwards.

    “Elton has been striking the ball well but Joe Pietersen (starting at fullback in the absence of injured Jaco Taute - Sport24) is also a very accurate and successful goal-kicker; we will make the decision later in the week.”

    Just having the 28-year-old Grant’s unflappability and rich knowledge of the Stormers’ culture among the match-day 22 on Saturday - he is around a dozen shy of the 100-caps mark - will be a psychological comfort for the team.

    Asked by Sport24 whether Grant was ready to play a meaningful role if required, considering his late return to the 2013 mix, Coetzee said: “Peter’s conditioning is 100 percent; his match fitness and personal fitness are great.

    “The big thing was for him to get out on the (training) park this week and get the synergy back, understand our needs.

    “It’s great to have him back in the team environment and Peter’s been very (supportive) to Elton as well.”

    Should Pietersen be entrusted with goal-kicking responsibility, at least initially, Jantjies will be freed up to focus more on his tactical game.

    Yet Grant, who brings a fearlessness and directness to the flyhalf channel, will be an attractive proposition in the second half if the Stormers are either playing second fiddle or under the cosh protecting, say, a small lead.

    The Durban-born and Maritzburg College-educated player also has a habit of raising his game against the Sharks.

    Last season, for instance, he also arrived back to the Stormers camp after the start of Super Rugby hostilities, yet was highly influential - upon introduction in the 46th minute, in place of Gary van Aswegen - in the Capetonians squeezing out a 15-12 Newlands triumph over those very foes on March 3.

    His awkward-angled, last-gasp penalty ensured all four match points for the relieved home outfit after the teams had been locked at 12-12 and that had looked like being a fairer result.

    The Stormers would be very happy if history repeated itself.

    Teams:

    Sharks:


    15. Louis Ludik, 14. JP Pietersen, 13. Paul Jordaan, 12. Francois Steyn (captain), 11. Lwazi Mvovo, 10. Patrick Lambie, 9. Cobus Reinach, 8. Ryan Kankowski, 7. Jean Deysel, 6. Marcell Coetzee, 5. Franco van der Merwe, 4. Anton Bresler, 3. Jannie du Plessis, 2. Craig Burden, 1. Tendai Mtawarira

    Substitutes: 16. Kyle Cooper, 17. Wiehahn Herbst, 18. Pieter-Steph du Toit, 19. Jacques Botes, 20. Charl McLeod, 21. Meyer Bosman, 22. Odwa Ndungane

    Stormers:


    15. Joe Pietersen, 14. Gio Aplon, 13. Jean de Villiers (captain), 12. Damian de Allende, 11. Bryan Habana, 10. Elton Jantjies, 9. Nic Groom, 8. Duane Vermeulen (vice-captain), 7. Rynhardt Elstadt, 6. Siya Kolisi, 5. Andries Bekker, 4. De Kock Steenkamp, 3. Frans Malherbe, 2. Deon Fourie, 1. Steven Kitshoff

    Substitutes: 16. Martin Bezuidenhout, 17. Pat Cilliers, 18. Don Armand, 19. Nizaam Carr, 20. Louis Schreuder, 21. Peter Grant, 22. Gerhard van den Heever

    *Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

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