Vodacom Super Rugby
Stormers seek prop impact
Frans Malherbe (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - Stormers coach Allister Coetzee says he expects front ranker Frans Malherbe to again provide an impact from the bench against the Sharks in their Suepr Rugby semi-final on Saturday.
Malherbe was instrumental when he came on as a substitute against the Durbanites earlier in the season - his impact helped the Stormers claim a last-gasp 15-12 win at Newlands.
Tighthead Malherbe has made way for the seasoned Brok Harris, in an effort to stabilise the Stormers scrum, which struggled at times this season. Malherbe is expected to feature in the second half.
"We're up against a top-class pack full of internationals and we're going with Brok for this match," said Coetzee.
"We've given Frans time to advance his development but Brok has played in playoff before and we're looking for impact when Frans comes on."
Meanwhile, Coetzee again picked Deon Fourie at No 8 after he performed well there in their last league game against the Rebels.
Loose forward Duane Vermeulen has not recovered sufficiently from his knee injury which sees Fourie stay at the back of the scrum instead of his usual spot at hooker.
"Duane is not ready for the game and, although he has made great progress, his (fitness) condition has not kicked on," said Coetzee.
"It's not the right thing to play him in a high-intensity game at this stage. I believe in fielding players only if they are 100 percent fit.
"Deon has been good on the ground and he's shown that he's a hard worker.
It's another opportunity for him to show his versatility.
"The loose forwards understand their roles and the selection was based on what's best for the team."
Coetzee said they were expecting the Sharks to exert their authority at the set-pieces and were preparing accordingly.
"The Sharks have all their big players back and they're the ones that they rely on for momentum," he said.
"They have made a massive step-up in physicality and that creates go-forward for them to impose themselves on the match."
As expected Springbok lock Eben Etzebeth returns to the second row alongside Andries Bekker and that in itself will be a huge morale-booster for the Stormers.
"Players like De Kock Steenkamp who have played while we had injuries have done really well and hopefully Etzebeth will be inspired by their (the replacements') performances," said Coetzee.
"It's good to have Etzebeth back and we know how well he can perform."
Stormers captain Jean de Villiers said the travel factor could be a consideration for the Sharks but he expected them to be so motivated that it was unlikely to affect their performance.
"Travelling will always be factor but they're highly motivated and after their win against the champs (the Reds) last week, they'll arrive at Newlands on a high," said De Villiers."
"The Sharks have quality players and their problem is who to leave out.
"The key for us is to concentrate on what we need to do and win the mini-battles in the big battle.
"If we don't pitch up this week, there won't be a next week (final)."
Stormers: 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. Deon Fourie, 7. Rynhardt Elstadt, 6. Siya Kolisi, 5. Andries Bekker, 4. Eben Etzebeth, 3. Brok Harris, 2. Tiaan Liebenberg, 1. Steven Kitshoff
Substitutes: 16. Frans Malherbe, 17. Deon Carstens, 18. De Kock Steenkamp, 19. Don Armand, 20. Louis Schreuder, 21. Burton Francis, 22. Gerhard van den Heever
Sharks: 15 Louis Ludik, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Tim Whitehead, 12 Meyer Bosman, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Frederic Michalak, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Marcell Coetzee, 6 Keegan Daniel (captain), 5 Anton Bresler, 4 Willem Alberts, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Substitutes: 16 Craig Burden, 17 Wiehahn Herbst, 18 Steven Sykes, 19 Jean Deysel, 20 Jacques Botes, 21 Odwa Ndungane, 22 Riaan Viljoen