Stormers favour momentum over rest
Cape Town - Regardless of what happens this weekend, the Stormers will finish third on the overall log of Super Rugby and host a quarter-final at Newlands.
They don't know who they will be meeting in that quarter-final, but they do know that it will be one of the New Zealand franchises.
For that reason, it may have been tempting for coach Robbie Fleck to rest his first-choice players for Saturday's clash against the Kings at Newlands.
Instead, Fleck has opted to field as close to a full-strength side as possible.
Locks Pieter-Steph du Toit and Eben Etzebeth, who played all three of the Springboks' Tests against Ireland in June, have been rested but the likes of Schalk Burger, Sikhumbuzo Nothse, Jean-Luc du Plessis, Leolin Zas and Damian de Allende are all playing.
The Lions, meanwhile, still have a lot to play for this weekend and they can secure top spot on the overall log with victory over the Jaguares in Argentina.
Yet coach Johan Ackermann has left all of his regular starters in South Africa.
"I think he’s in a very different circumstance to us and he’s obviously got a few plans behind his selections," Fleck said of Ackermann's decision.
"We’re in a very different position to him. Chatting to the leadership group … our focus has to be different to what it was in previous campaigns. Hopefully we’re learning from the past."
In 2015 the Stormers had wrapped up the South African Conference so took a 'B' team to Durban on the final weekend of the regular season.
They lost 34-12 and then, a week later, the refreshed first-teamers were smashed 39-19 by the Brumbies at Newlands in the playoffs.
"We feel that this week is an important week for us. In previous campaigns we’ve probably took our foot off the throat in terms of our prep and focus and rested some of our key players," said Fleck.
"This time round we are wanting to keep the momentum going from what was created on tour. We want to play finals rugby and it’s important that we choose our strongest squad available barring certain players being rested."
Turning his attention to the playoffs, Fleck said it was crucially important to up their game this week knowing that New Zealand opposition awaited.
"We don’t know why we’re playing yet, but we do know it’s a New Zealand side," said Fleck.
"They’re playing well and playing at a different level. We certainly need to get up to that level. We need to find the intensity we found at the beginning of the season and we need to top that.
"Whether we were playing the Kings or the Bulls or the Lions, this week was going to be massively important for us after qualifying last week."
Kickoff on Saturday is at 17:05.
15 Jaco Taute, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Huw Jones, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Schalk Burger (captain), 7 Rynhardt Elstadt, 6 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 5 JD Schickerling, 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Alistair Vermaak.
Substitutes: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 JC Janse van Rensburg, 18 JP Smith, 19 Chris van Zyl, 20 Siya Kolisi, 21 Jano Vermaak, 22 Brandon Thomson, 23 Scott van Breda
15 Malcolm Jaer, 14 Lukhanyo Am, 13 Stefan Watermeyer, 12 Shane Gates, 11 Wandile Mjekevu, 10 Dewald Human, 9 James Hall, 8 Jacques Engelbrecht, 7 Stefan Willemse, 6 Andisa Ntsila, 5 JC Astle, 4 Steven Sykes (captain), 3 Jacobie Adriaanse, 2 Edgar Marutlulle, 1 Sti Sithole
Substitutes: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Schalk Ferreira, 18 Tom Botha, 19 Schalk Oelofse/Sintu Manjezi, 20 Aidon Davis, 21 Kevin Luiters, 22 Elgar Watts, 23 Jeremy Ward