Fleck: Etzebeth return a boost for everyone
Cape Town - Stormers coach Robbie Fleck knows that Eben Etzebeth's return for Saturday's clash against the Blues will be a boost to everyone in the squad.
Etzebeth missed last weekend's 34-28 loss to the Hurricanes in Wellington thanks to a head knock he had picked up the week before against the Jaguares.
He is good to go this week, though, and Fleck will be banking on one of his biggest weapons to put in a massive shift on his return.
"Eben is a big player for us. I felt that our pack played really well last week and that we were dominant, but Eben is an experienced campaigner and having him on the team sheet makes a big difference and brings a lot of confidence to the group," Fleck said.
"He is 100% in terms of the head knock. We pushed him quite far into the week last week to see if he could get ready. He was raring to go by Monday and he has gone really well this week."
Another significant change for the Stormers comes in the goal-kicking department.
SP Marais, who has been performing that role all season, drops out of the starting XV.
Fleck confirmed on Thursday that flyhalf Jean-Luc du Plessis was likely to take on the goal-kicking duties against the Blues, while Damian Willemse from fullback was also an option.
"We've got both Damian and JL, so JL will probably start it off," Fleck explained.
"SP has been kicking really well and he's on the bench, and he will play a role later in the game. Between JL and Damian we're pretty comfortable with who can take the shots at goal."
Kick-off on Saturday is at 08:35 (SA time).
15 Melani Nanai, 14 Tanielu Tele’a, 13 TJ Faiane, 12 Ma’a Nonu, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Otere Black, 9 Jonathan Ruru, 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Blake Gibson, 6 Tom Robinson, 5 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu (captain), 3 Sione Mafileo, 2 James Parsons, 1 Alex Hodgman
Substitutes: 16 Matt Moulds, 17 Karl Tu'inukuafe, 18 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 19 Scott Scrafton, 20 Dalton Papalii, 21 Augustine Pulu, 22 Harry Plummer, 23 Sonny Bill Williams
15 Damian Willemse, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Dan du Plessis, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Dillyn Leyds, 10 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Jaco Coetzee, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Chris van Zyl, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Steven Kitshoff
Substitutes: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 Corne Fourie, 18 Frans Malherbe, 19 Cobus Wiese, 20 Juarno Augustus, 21 Justin Phillips, 22 Joshua Stander, 23 SP Marais