Cape Town - Nizaam Carr has experience of most positions in the backrow, but at senior first class level the blindside flank role that he will fill for the Stormers in Saturday’s Super Rugby clash with the Cheetahs is the one he is least familiar with.
The supersport.com website reports that Stormers coach Allister Coetzee confirmed on Monday that Carr will be starting against the Cheetahs instead of Schalk Burger, who is being rested as per the agreement between the South African Rugby Union and the franchise chief executives related to members of the Springbok squad.
Carr, who is most at home at No 8, has started off the back of the scrum this season when Duane Vermeulen has been rested, and last year he wore the No 6 jersey which in South Africa is the signification for openside flank.
He has filled in for Burger at blindside flank as a replacement coming off the bench on occasion this year, but this will be the first time that Carr will start there for the Stormers.
"Schalk is due a rest, so will play Nizaam this week. Siya Kolisi continues in the openside role, with Nizaam filling Schalk’s boots as blindside flank, something I am not worried about and don’t have any problem with as Nizaam has running skills," said Coetzee.
"Off the scrum Nizaam will be a blindside flank, but from open play he will fill the role of a No 8, with Duane operating as a flank.
"There is no problem swopping Duane and Nizaam when it comes to running.
"It is important to have one loose-forward playing to the ball, and Siya has settled into the role of openside.
"Of course Duane also plays to the ball. Nizaam did that last year, but we are happy to have him play now as a running and linking loose-forward.”
Burger is set to rest twice in the remaining three games, with prop Frans Malherbe also due to rest twice, while lock Eben Etzebeth is still due one more rest.
With matches against the Lions and Sharks to come after the Cheetahs clash, and the South African conference title on the line, it is going to take some clever balancing from Coetzee, but he says his plan of action will become clearer to him after this weekend’s round of matches.
Should the results make it more likely that the Stormers will win the conference while at the same time making it less likely that they will finish second – in other words, if the Waratahs beat the Lions – Coetzee will be facing the likelihood that there could be a rest opportunity for the players in the final league match against the Sharks.
However, should it not turn out that way, it appears likely that the Stormers might be prepared to take a financial hit rather than compromise their chances of winning the conference and making the play-offs.
"This rest agreement is not a compulsory thing, we can sacrifice other privileges," said the Stormers coach.
"What I can say is that aside from resting Schalk, we will be playing our strongest possible team against the Cheetahs.
"Someone like Frans is due to rest, but at the same time he was out injured for much of the early season so if he doesn’t get an opportunity to rest twice, it won’t be a train smash.
"He is now playing his best rugby and has his momentum up. What we need to do though will be clearer after this weekend."
Coetzee said that the availability of promising former Bulls and national age-group prop Wilco Louw, who is currently committed to the Western Province effort in Saturday’s Vodacom Cup final against the Pumas at Newlands, will make it easier for Malherbe to be rested in the remaining matches.
"We will make the right choices, and we will obviously keep what is good for the player in mind.
"What is important is that we feel that we have broken the camel’s back in resting Duane Vermeulen quite a bit earlier in the competition. I don’t think anyone can complain about the management of Duane.
"If you take the two bye weeks into account together with the three games he was rested, he has already sat out five weekends during Super Rugby."
Coetzee said that wing Kobus van Wyk would be available for the potential conference decider against the Lions, as would flanker Michael Rhodes.
The latter is coming back a week later than anticipated because of a bout of flu, and as a consequence of that, Sikhumbuzo Notshe will be sitting on the Stormers bench rather than playing for WP in the Vodacom Cup final at the weekend.