Town - Stormers coach Robbie Fleck has
backed flyhalf Jean-Luc
du Plessis for Saturday's Super Rugby clash against the
Bulls at Newlands, and he is likely to keep backing him for the remainder of
the 2019 campaign.
That was the clear message to
come out of Thursday's press conference ahead of a match that the Stormers
desperately need to win following a hugely disappointing loss to the Brumbies
in Cape Town last weekend.
Du Plessis was rested for that
game with Josh Stander taking the reins, but many felt it was a decision that
was due following Du Plessis' struggles to consistently orchestrate the
Stormers attack this year.
Stander did not go well on
Saturday, and he has paid the price.
Having had a nightmare run of
injuries over the last two Super Rugby seasons, Du Plessis is now fully fit,
but that has not been enough to convince a passionate Western Cape rugby
He has another crack on Saturday,
and it will come against the Bulls and their Springbok playmaker, Handre
It is the biggest of tests for Du
Plessis, but regardless of what happens, he can rest easy in the knowledge that
he has his coach's full support.
"The way we see the game is
that he has an influential role in the way we want to play," Fleck told
"We felt that the
combination of himself, Herschel (Jantjies) and Damian de Allende was coming
and as the (Australasian) tour went on it grew stronger.
"I felt that tactically
against the Rebels he was very good ... we're pretty happy with the way he
controls the game for us."
That Rebels performance Fleck was
referring to came in Melbourne two weekends ago. Du Plessis started and his
side emerged as 41-24 victors.
"We all know that he is a
good rugby player and he has a good brain. We're going to keep backing him to
drive the team forward," Fleck added.
"We like his interplay
between the backs and the forwards as well and he brings that left foot which
you need in the modern game."
While Stander may have struggled
against the Brumbies, Damian Willemse at flyhalf would be a popular
The 20-year-old remains one of
South African rugby's most promising attacking players. He wants to play
flyhalf and many think he should.
Fleck, though, helped explain why
he is reluctant to go down that road.
"I know people are talking
about Damian going back to No 10, but for me he is the number one fullback in
the country at the moment," the coach said.
"He's been outstanding, so
why take him out of a position that he's dominating in South African rugby at
"He's got a boot, he's
controlling the game excellently from the back and in our side he's the best
guy underneath the high ball.
"We don't want to mess with
that too much."
Willemse is expected to go to
this year's Rugby World Cup in Japan as the back-up fullback to incumbent
Willie le Roux.
Kick-off on Saturday is at 15:05.
15 Damian Willemse, 14 Sergeal
Petersen, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Dillyn Leyds, 10 Jean-Luc
du Plessis, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Kobus van Dyk, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6
Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 JD Schickerling, 4 Cobus Wiese, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2
Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff
Substitutes: 16 Bongi Mbonambi,
17 Corne Fourie, 18 Wilco Louw, 19 Eben Etzebeth, 20 Ernst van Rhyn, 21 Justin
Phillips, 22 Joshua Stander, 23 Seabelo Senatla
15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Jade
Stighling, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Johnny Kotze, 10 Handre
Pollard (captain), 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Hanro Liebenberg, 6
Marco van Staden, 5 RG Snyman, 4 Jannes Kirsten, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Jaco
Visagie, 1 Lizo Gqoboka
Substitutes: 16 Johan Grobbelaar,
17 Simphiwe Matanzima, 18 Wiehahn Herbst, 19 Thembelani Bholi, 20 Paul
Schoeman, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Manie Libbok, 23 Divan Rossouw