Stormers prop 'dominates'
Frans Malherbe (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - Stormers coach Allister Coetzee admits he had no other choice than to award 21-year-old prop Frans Malherbe with a spot in the starting XV.
The top-of-the-table Stormers take on the second-placed Highlanders in Dunedin on Saturday, with Malherbe's inclusion at tighthead ahead of Brok Harris the only change to their starting line-up.
Malherbe has been instrumental when coming on in the second half of the Stormers' games this season, with his scrum prowess proving vital in key victories over the Sharks and Bulls.
"Frans dominates when we send him on and we had to make the decision (to promote him to the starting team) at some point," Coetzee told Die Burger.
Malherbe is still eligible to play for Western Province's under-21 team this year but the Stormers will be hoping he can continue his dominance against Highlanders skipper Jamie Mackintosh.
Coetzee did, however, state that he wasn't disappointed with Harris's efforts, but Malherbe is a potential future Springbok and thus a bigger weapon.
"We'll get the answers this weekend," said Coetzee.
The Stormers have flown halfway around the world, through 10 different time zones to get to their destination, but Coetzee is confident the players are fully focused.
"It was a long flight, but there will be no excuses."
The clash at the enclosed Forsyth Barr Stadium kicks off at 09:35 (SA time) on Saturday.
15. Joe Pietersen, 14. Gio Aplon, 13. Juan de Jongh, 12. Jean de Villiers (captain), 11. Bryan Habana, 10. Peter Grant, 9. Dewaldt Duvenage, 8. Duane Vermeulen, 7. Rynhardt Elstadt, 6. Siya Kolisi, 5. Andries Bekker, 4. Eben Etzebeth, 3. Frans Malherbe, 2. Tiaan Liebenberg, 1. Steven Kitshoff
Substitutes: 16. Deon Fourie, 17. Brok Harris, 18. De Kock Steenkamp, 19. Nick Koster, 20. Louis Schreuder, 21. Burton Francis, 22. Gerhard van den Heever