Cape Town - Stormers coach Robbie Fleck says that the positives of being without Cheslin Kolbe and Juan de Jongh for the majority of his side's pre-season preparations far outweigh the negatives.
Kolbe and De Jongh have been given the weekend off and will not feature in Saturday's friendly against the Jaguares at Newlands.
The pair recently returned from Sevens duty after featuring in all four of the Blitzboks' World Series tournaments so far this season, and while they have missed a large part of the Stormers pre-season as a result, Fleck says the skills they have picked up will be beneficial in Super Rugby.
Both players have been put on a gym-heavy routine as they looked to bulk up ahead of the new season.
De Jongh is emerging as the logical option for Fleck at inside centre after injuries to Damian de Allende and Jaco Taute.
"He (De Jongh) had a crack at it a couple of years ago and skill-wise
he probably wasn’t there and maybe he didn’t quite understand the game," said Fleck of De Jongh's Sevens venture.
starting to understand space and how the game of Sevens is run. He’s playing so
well that he’s pretty much part of their leadership group. They’ve been impressed with him.
"I think it’s fantastic that he’s returning to us in such
great form. He’s playing with a lot of confidence.
"Sevens has forced him to focus
incredibly hard on his passing game. In that midfield role he has to be a
linker … a guy who can breach the line. It’s about putting other guys into
space and I think that’s what he’s starting to learn. Sevens can do that … it’s
all about special awareness and he certainly will come back a better player."
Kolbe, meanwhile, has been used as a playmaker at the Blitzboks after injuries to Cecil Afrika and Justin Geduld.
Known for his blistering pace and quick feet, the 22-year-old fullback was one of the most dangerous finishers in the Stormers backline last year.
But, under Fleck, it seems he will have a different role.
"We all know that Cheslin can be an out-and-out strike
runner, but it is his playmaking abilities that have been untapped and that’s
what we’ve got to utilise," said Fleck.
"There’s no point just having him in the wide
channels … let’s get him into those playmaking positions where he can start
putting people away.
"I think it’s going to benefit the Stormers hugely."
The Stormers start their Super Rugby campaign on February 27 against the Bulls at Newlands.
Saturday's clash against the Jaguares kicks off at 16:00.
15 Dillyn Leyds, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Johnny Kotze, 12 Huw Jones, 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Robert Du Preez, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Nizaam Carr (captain), 7 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 6 Rynhardt Elstadt, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Oli Kebble.
Substitutes: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 Michael Willemse, 18 JC Janse van Rensburg, 19 JP Smith, 20 Alistair Vermaak, 21 Jan de Klerk, 22 JD Schickerling, 23 Rikus Bothma, 24 Jurie van Vuuren, 25 Nic Groom, 26 Godlen Masimla, 27 Louis Schreuder, 28 Kurt Coleman, 29 Brandon Thompson, 30 Ryan Oosthuizen, 31 Khanyo Ngcukana