Town - Johnny Kotze, who was a stand-out player for last season’s Western
Province Under-21 side, is the major surprise in the Stormers team to play the
Bulls in the opening round of the 2015 Super Rugby competition at Loftus
Versfeld, Pretoria, on Saturday evening.
The Johannesburg-born Kotze, who was schooled
at Bishops in Cape Town, was given the nod after right wing Kobus van Wyk was
omitted from Saturday's match-day squad. Van Wyk, who had returned from a calf
injury, enjoyed very little game time in the pre-season warm-up matches and it
was felt that he needed more time to reach the desired level of match
"Kotze has all the core skills that is
required of a wing," said Stormers coach Allister Coetzee, at Thursday's
team announcement in Bellville. "He was one of the stars in last season's
(WP) Under-21 team. He's been in our system and he brings characteristics that
are very pleasing.
“He is physical and very brave. He has the
ingredients a team needs against a team like the Bulls.
"He usually plays at outside centre
and I'm confident that he'll settle in well in his debut and deliver the
business on the right wing. It will be a big test for him, and he’s also
competes on the ground.”
Coetzee said a number of centres in the WP
systems over the last few seasons started their Stormers careers on the wing.
Kotze will line-up alongside fullback
Cheslin Kolbe and left wing debutant Dillyn Leyds in the Stormers' back-three
and their collective lack of height could pose an attraction option for the
Bulls if they resort to a kicking game.
The perceived lack of height in the back
three is something that the Stormers had considered but Coetzee felt the team
had covered all their bases going into the Loftus encounter.
“I am confident in the way we prepared and
I do not think there is any more we can do. I am comfortable with our choices,
and with the way we have trained. It has gone well in training this week,"
"As coaches we'll just have to see how
it goes, and Saturday will tell us whether the players can deliver what they
did in practice under pressure in a big match like this."
There is doubt about the fitness of hooker
Siyabonga 'Scarra' Ntubeni, who was withdrawn from Thursday's training because
of a viral infection.
It is expected, though, that Ntubeni will
recover sufficiently in time to play. In the event of him withdrawing, reserve
and new recruit Bongi Mbonambi will run out against his former team-mates.
"We'll treat Ntubeni's case with great
caution bearing in mind that it is a first game and the match is at altitude.
It looks like he'll recover but we have Bongi (Mbonambi) ready to take his
place if necessary," said Coetzee.
Tighthead prop Vincent Koch who was signed
from the Pumas a few weeks ago, is the third debutant in the run-on XV.
Duane Vermeulen, the new Stormers captain,
said his team was going to Loftus with the intention of playing
"I've heard all the talk about the
teams planning to play expansive rugby but we want to play winning rugby, even
if that means resorting to a kicking game," said Vermeulen. "We want
to win to give ourselves a chance for a shot at winning the Super Rugby
In the absence of injured locks Eben
Etzebeth (chest injury) and Manuel Carizza (shoulder), Jean Kleyn has landed a
starting XV berth.
"Jean can do the job because he has
learnt a lot," said Vermeulen. "There are also a number of players
around him who can show him the way. I'm very pleased with his progress."
Vermeulen said he was not overly concerned
about the role of the referee (Jaco Peyper) on Saturday.
"We know that SANZAR have their
guidelines in place but on the day it is all about how the referee interprets
the situation," said Vermeulen. "We just have to adapt to how Jaco
blows the match."
15. Jurgen Visser, 14. Bjorn Basson, 13. JJ
Engelbrecht, 12. Jan Serfontein, 11. Francois Hougaard, 10. Handre Pollard, 9.
Piet van Zyl, 8. Arno Botha, 7. Lappies Labuschagne, 6. Deon Stegmann, 5.
Victor Matfield (captain), 4. Jacques du Plessis, 3. Werner Kruger, 2. Adriaan
Strauss, 1. Trevor Nyakane
Substitutes: 16. Callie Visagie, 17. Morne
Mellet, 18. Dayan vd Westhuizen/Neethling Fouche, 19. Grant Hattingh, 20.
Pierre Spies, 21. Rudy Paige, 22. Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 23. Jesse Kriel
15. Cheslin Kolbe, 14. Johnny Kotze, 13.
Juan de Jongh, 12. Damian de Allende, 11. Dillyn Leyds, 10. Demetri Catrakilis,
9. Nic Groom, 8. Duane Vermeulen (captain), 7. Michael Rhodes, 6. Rynhardt
Elstadt, 5. Ruan Botha, 4. Jean Kleyn, 3. Vincent Koch, 2. Scarra Ntubeni, 1.
Substitutes: 16. Bongi Mbonambi, 17. Oli
Kebble, 18. Wilco Louw, 19. Jurie van Vuuren, 20. Nizaam Carr, 21. Louis
Schreuder, 22. Kurt Coleman, 23. Huw Jones