Sweeping changes to Stormers
Cape Town - The Stormers have announced a team showing seven changes for their final Super Rugby match Down Under - against the Rebels at AAMI Park in Melbourne on Friday (kick-off 11:40 SA time).
Two of the changes are injury-enforced, with Rynhardt Elstadt and Duane Vermeulen out with knee injuries, while those tour-ending injuries have also led to some positional switches up front.
In one of those changes, regular hooker Deon Fourie will move from the front row to the back row (No 6), with Siya Kolisi shifting to the other side of the scrum and the exciting Nizaam Carr packing down at No 8.
With Fourie on the flank, Currie Cup-winning hooker Scarra Ntubeni will make his first-ever Super Rugby start in the No 2 jersey. In a final change in the front row, Pat Cilliers will start at tighthead prop in part of the rotation policy with Frans Malherbe, who reverts to the bench this week.
There is also a change at halfback for the Stormers, with Elton Jantjies and Louis Schreuder starting a game together for the first time at flyhalf and scrumhalf, respectively.
Flyhalf Gary van Aswegen, who has started the past four games in the No 10 jersey, drops to the bench this week where he is joined by Nic Groom who will be looking to make his first appearance of the tour. Scrumhalf Dewaldt Duvenage will sit out altogether this week.
Groom, in turn, will be joined on the bench by lock Gerbrandt Grobler, who flew to Australia this week as injury cover, and hooker Martin Bezuidenhout. Flank/lock Don Armand and wing Gerhard van den Heever - who sat on the bench last week - make up the remainder of the replacements.
Stormers coach Allister Coetzee said: “Despite all the changes, some of them injury-enforced, this is an exciting team and we’re determined to finish the tour on a high. We’ve trained well this week and we’re looking forward to Friday’s match.”
The Stormers are still in Sydney and will transfer to Melbourne on Thursday ahead of Friday’s match. They will fly back to South Africa on Saturday.
15. Joe Pietersen, 14. Gio Aplon, 13. Juan de Jongh, 12. Jean de Villiers (captain), 11. Bryan Habana, 10. Elton Jantjies, 9. Louis Schreuder, 8. Nizaam Carr, 7. Siya Kolisi, 6. Deon Fourie, 5. Andries Bekker, 4. Eben Etzebeth, 3. Pat Cilliers, 2. Scarra Ntubeni, 1. Steven Kitshoff
Substitutes: 16. Martin Bezuidenhout, 17. Frans Malherbe, 18. Gerbrandt Grobler, 19. Don Armand, 20. Nic Groom, 21. Gary van Aswegen, 22. Gerhard van den Heever
Referee: Mike Fraser (New Zealand)