Stormers boosted by centre pairing
Cape Town - Stormers fans will finally get to see their Springbok midfield start together when Damian de Allende lines up alongside Juan de Jongh against the Waratahs on Saturday.
De Allende missed the beginning stages of the season with an ankle injury and only made his first start of the campaign last weekend against the Reds - a match that De Jongh missed with a concussion.
But against the Waratahs on Saturday the Stormers will field what is largely considered their first-choice centre combination.
It also means that De Jongh moves back to his more natural position at No 13.
De Allende has yet to find his best form since returning to first-team action, but there are few doubts that he will return to his devastating self soon.
Jonny Kotze has featured in all eight of the Stormers' fixtures so far this season and he has shown some strong running in recent weeks, but he misses out on the match-day 23 altogether to accommodate the De Allende/De Jongh pairing.
"It is good to have them (De Allende and De Jongh) together but take nothing away from Jonny and co ... they've done well," coach Robbie Fleck said of his selection.
"But it is nice to have Juan and Damian back in the mix together. It solidifies that midfield a little bit and brings a little bit of leadership in the backline.
"Juan has been on his own for some time in terms of being a leader and having leaders around him so it's nice to have two experienced players in the midfield."
De Jongh, co-captain with Frans Malherbe on Saturday, will come up against Waratahs flyer Israel Folau.
"I've watched a lot of footage of the previous games and from what I've seen he's a big, strong ball carrier," De Jongh said of his opposite number.
"He's very good on defence and it's just about me making sure that I'm well prepared against him."
On playing alongside De Allende, De Jongh emphasised that the midfield battle did not matter as much against the Waratahs, who are very fluid in how they set up their backline.
"He's (De Allende) a very experienced centre and it's a good combination that we have working together," said De Jongh.
"If you analyse their team as a unit they move their players around in different areas.
"It's not about the midfield going against each other, it's more about the backline going against the backline. They're very skillful players and I'm looking forward to the big challenge against Isi (Folau)."
Kick-off on Saturday is at 19:15.
15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Juan de Jongh (co-captain), 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Schalk Burger, 7 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 6 Nizaam Carr, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Rynhardt Elstadt, 3 Frans Malherbe (co-captain), 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg.
Substitutes: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 Oli Kebble, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 JD Schickerling, 20 Siya Kolisi, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Brandon Thomson, 23 Huw Jones
15 Andrew Kellaway, 14 Reece Robinson, 13 Israel Folau, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Rob Horne, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Jed Holloway, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 Dean Mumm, 5 Will Skelton, 4 David Dennis, 3 Tom Robertson, 2 Hugh Roach, 1 Paddy Ryan
Substitutes: 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 Jeremy Tilse, 18 Angus Ta’avao, 19 Sam Lousi, 20 Wycliff Palu, 21 Matt Lucas, 22 David Horwitz, 23 Matt Carraro