LIVE

    Stormers show Loftus hand

    2013-02-07 13:35
    Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer
    Cape Town - They have a few issues behind the scrum to chew on, but it would seem as though the Stormers have pretty much settled on their starting pack for the Super Rugby-opening derby against the Bulls at Loftus on Friday, February 22.

    The SA Conference winners for the past two seasons have a relatively “soft” last designated friendly at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday against neighbours Boland (14:45), but reading between the lines they will begin it with the likely forward unit also for the appetising Pretoria showdown.

    With captain Schalk Burger and frontline hooker Tiaan Liebenberg not yet able to see active service in 2013 - though their respective returns ought to be fairly speedy - they are already wrestling a familiar bogey of not being able to field their strongest possible pack on paper.

    But the more-than-respectable beneficiaries in the interim - both of whom should run out up front against both the Cavaliers and then the Bulls a fortnight later - are Rynhardt Elstadt and Deon Fourie.

    The latter, with his greater mobility and tigerish approach to competition at the breakdown (he earned plaudits in a fairly pronounced switch to open-side flank at Newlands last season), has always been a close rival and sometimes preference in the starting mix to Liebenberg anyway.

    In the case of the uncompromising Elstadt, Burger’s latest “niggle” misfortune - coming annoyingly on top of his long-term absence through a serious knee injury - is his own, early passport back to a first-team ticket.

    A few weeks ago it seemed the Stormers’ front-line loose trio for early combat in Super Rugby 2013 was earmarked to be Burger (also recently officially restored to the leadership), Siya Kolisi and Duane Vermeulen.

    But with Burger’s return delayed, the versatile Elstadt, who is just as comfortable at No 4 lock, could clinch his Loftus role in the blindside flank jersey for the time being - with Kolisi shifting reasonably seamlessly to No 6 - if he shows enough lustre against the Bolanders after his own layoff in late 2012.

    The Montagu-educated Elstadt is the ideal substitute for ever-fearless Burger if coach Allister Coetzee decides that the best way to combat the Bulls’ traditionally physical approach is to fight fire with fire.

    Expect to see the talented tearaway Nizaam Carr, nevertheless, get a good chunk of game-time off the bench against Boland, and then quite possibly be employed in a very similar capacity during the second half of the showdown in the Bulls’ corral - he could introduce some potentially game-swaying X-factor if things are close. 

    The all-Springbok lock combination of Eben Etzebeth and Andries Bekker basically picks itself, even if Bekker, in particular, all too often is an injury setback just waiting to happen and may be employed reasonably sparingly on Saturday as he feels his own way back into first-class activity.

    Meanwhile the choice of front row to play the Cavaliers - Steven Kitshoff, Fourie and recent Bok acquisition Pat Cilliers - also hints that this will be the brew against the Bulls, as the more immediate outing will give them a handy opportunity to gel.

    Cilliers appears to have the inside lane for Loftus in the key, scrum-anchoring role of tighthead, although young Frans Malherbe (a bench presence on Saturday) may well breathe strongly down his neck and be a useful rotational option anyway as the season develops into the inevitable bump and grind.

    If things look reasonably clear-cut in the pack as far as plans for Loftus are concerned, the Stormers still have to arrange some ducks in the halfback positions.

    Dewaldt Duvenage will no doubt be closely monitored for sharpness at scrumhalf against Boland - he is another who missed a sizeable tract of play towards the end of 2012 - whilst Kurt Coleman may have to play out of his skin if he is to hold onto the No 10 jersey for the much more challenging trip to the north.

    Coach Coetzee’s early-season intentions at flyhalf were disrupted recently when Elton Jantjies, the diminutive loan import from the Lions, left the camp for family bereavement reasons.

    But he did reportedly stress earlier this week that Jantjies’ absence thus far will not preclude him from being considered for the Bulls fixture.

    The left-footed Jantjies, you would think, will be more than “considered”.

    With his known place-kicking prowess, for one thing, he seems sure to feature in the great north-south showdown which, if last season is any yardstick, may not have much in it in scoreboard terms and potentially be decided by high-pressurise Jantjies/Morne Steyn cracks at the posts ...

    *Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing
    Read More On:  stormers super 15 cape town rugby

    Read News24’s Comments Policy

    24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

    Comment on this story
    64 comments
    Add your comment
    Comment 0 characters remaining
    Live Video Streaming
    Sport Talk
    Most Read
    Commented

    Fixtures

    13 February 2015
    • Crusaders v Melbourne Rebels, Christchurch 08:35
    • Brumbies v Reds, Canberra 10:40
    • Lions v Hurricanes, Johannesburg 19:10
    14 February 2015
    • Blues v Chiefs, Albany 08:35
    • Sharks v Cheetahs, Durban 17:05
    • Bulls v Stormers, Pretoria 19:10
    15 February 2015
    • Waratahs v Western Force, Sydney 07:05

    Results

    02 August 2014
    26 July 2014
    19 July 2014
    12 July 2014
    11 July 2014
    06 July 2014
    05 July 2014
    04 July 2014
    28 June 2014
    27 June 2014
    31 May 2014
    30 May 2014
    24 May 2014
    23 May 2014
    18 May 2014
    17 May 2014
    16 May 2014
    11 May 2014
    10 May 2014
    09 May 2014
    03 May 2014
    02 May 2014
    26 April 2014
    25 April 2014
    19 April 2014
    18 April 2014
    12 April 2014
    11 April 2014
    05 April 2014
    04 April 2014
    29 March 2014
    28 March 2014
    22 March 2014
    21 March 2014
    15 March 2014
    14 March 2014
    08 March 2014
    07 March 2014
    01 March 2014
    28 February 2014
    23 February 2014
    22 February 2014
    21 February 2014
    15 February 2014

    Logs

    Rank Team P W Pts

    Opinion Poll

    Does the Waratahs' Super Rugby victory give the Wallabies an edge heading into the Rugby Championship?

    Monday Quiz Madness!

    TAKE THE QUIZ
    There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.