50 up for Etzebeth as Stormers ring changes
Cape Town - Eben Etzebeth will play his 50th Super Rugby game for the Stormers when they face the Highlanders in Dunedin on Friday.
The imposing 25-year-old lock, who made his Super Rugby debut in 2012, has been named Stormers vice-captain for the clash at the Forsyth-Barr Stadium with regular skipper Siya Kolisi returning after being rested last week.
Kolisi will start at openside flank with Nizaam Carr shifting to No 8 and Pieter-Steph du Toit continuing on the blindside, whilst Sikhumbuzo Notshe and Kobus van Dyk will provide loose forward cover.
There are a number of changes to the tight five, with Jan de Klerk getting a chance to partner Etzebeth in the second row and props Oli Kebble and Frans Malherbe starting with JC Janse van Rensburg and Wilco Louw on the replacements bench.
In the backline, scrumhalf Jano Vermaak returns to the starting line-up to partner flyhalf Robert du Preez, with Dewaldt Duvenage on the bench.
The shoulder injury to midfielder Dan du Plessis sees Dan Kriel start at inside centre, with the experienced former Highlander Shaun Treeby set to provide an impact in the second half.
Fullback SP Marais returns from a groin niggle which kept him out of action last week, which means that Dillyn Leyds moves back to the left wing with Bjorn Basson amongst the replacements.
Stormers coach Robbie Fleck said that his team is determined to rise to the occasion in Dunedin.
"We have worked hard as a group to ensure that we bring the necessary intensity against the Highlanders this weekend,” he said.
"This is a great opportunity for us to show what we are capable of in a tough environment against quality opposition, so everyone is looking forward to the challenge.”
15 Ben Smith (captain), 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Rob Thompson, 11 Patrick Osborne, 10 Marty Banks, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Liam Squire, 7 Dillon Hunt, 6 Gareth Evans, 5 Tom Franklin, 4 Alex Ainley, 3 Siosuia Halanukonuka, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Daniel Lienert-Brown
Substitutes: 16 Greg Pleasants-Tate, 17 Aki Seiuli, 18 Siate Tokolahi, 19 Joe Wheeler, 20 Jackson Hemopo, 21 Kayne Hammington, 22 Fletcher Smith, 23 Matt Faddes
15 SP Marais, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 EW Viljoen, 12 Dan Kriel, 11 Dillyn Leyds, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Jan de Klerk, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Oli Kebble.
Substitutes: 16 Ramone Samuels, 17 JC Janse van Rensburg, 18 Wilco Louw, 19 Kobus van Dyk, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Dewaldt Duvenage, 22 Shaun Treeby, 23 Bjorn Basson