Cape Town - The Stormers have announced just one change to the starting team for their first home match of the 2015 Super Rugby season, against the Blues at Newlands on Saturday (17:05 kick-off).
Having opened their campaign with a clinical 29-17 win over the Bulls in Pretoria last weekend, Stormers head coach Allister Coetzee has wisely kept the changes to a minimum.
In an enforced change, however, No 4 lock Jean Kleyn misses out with a calf muscle injury, handing a start to fellow young gun and lock-cum-flank Jurie van Vuuren - after the latter came off the bench at Loftus Versfeld.
In a further change to the 23-man squad that played away last Saturday, fit-again Springbok loose forward Siya Kolisi comes in for Van Vuuren in the No 19 shirt - meaning Michael Rhodes and Rynhardt Elstadt will cover at lock whilst giving the hosts two explosive back-row options from the bench in the process.
“Frans Malherbe and Kobus van Wyk are not quite there yet (in terms of fitness), but, that said, it’s great to be able to reward our players (with selection) after last week’s performance,” Coetzee told the Stormers’ official website.
“Losing Jean is a blow, in terms of continuity, but we didn’t want to risk him - after all it’s a long season.”
Saturday will see skipper Duane Vermeulen play his 100th Super Rugby match (80th for the Stormers since 2009, along with 20 matches for the Cheetahs between 2007 & 2008) in a Stormers starting XV that boasts a total of 402 Super Rugby caps between, with 256 caps amongst the forwards and 146 in the backline.
“Our youngsters put their hands up last week and I expect the same from them again this Saturday, at home at Newlands where we have a very good and proud record. It’s important that the players understand the need to back up last week’s performance against a very experienced Blues team.
“Someone like Tony Woodcock has played almost 150 Super Rugby games and over 100 Test matches, whereas our tight five, combined, does not boast even 90 Super Rugby appearances.
“We’re expecting a massive onslaught from the Blues on Saturday, but it’s great to be back at home and we look forward to being in front of our home fans at Newlands,” added Coetzee.
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. Jurie van Vuuren, 3. Vincent Koch, 2. Scarra Ntubeni, 1. Steven Kitshoff
Substitutes: 16. Bongi Mbonambi, 17. Oli Kebble, 18. Wilco Louw, 19. Siya Kolisi, 20. Nizaam Carr, 21. Louis Schreuder, 22. Kurt Coleman, 23. Huw Jones
15 Charles Piutau, 14 Ben Lam, 13 Hamish
Northcott, 12 Francis Saili, 11 Tevita Li/Lolagi Visinia, 10 Ihaia West, 9
Jimmy Cowan, 8 Jerome Kaino (captain), 7 Brendon O'Connor/Luke Braid/Akira
Ioane, 6 Steven Luatua, 5 Hayden Triggs/Patrick Tuipulotu, 4 Josh
Bekhuis/Tuipulotu, 3 Angus Ta'avao/Charles Piutau, 2 James Parsons, 1 Tony
Substitutes (from): Matt Moulds, Greg
Pleasants-Tate, Ofa Tu'ungafasi, Sam
Prattley, Charlie Faumuina, Angus Ta'avao, Patrick Tuipulotu/Triggs/Bekhuis,
Braid/Iaone/O'Connor, Jamison Gibson-Park, Dan Bowden, Visinia/Li