Deon Fourie returns to skipper as JDV is gone
Deon Fourie will lead the DHL Stormers in their Vodacom Super Rugby match against the Toyota Cheetahs at Newlands on Saturday.
The captain of last year’s Western Province Currie Cup winning team, Fourie will lead the side from the flank, and takes the captaincy arm-band from regular squad leader Jean de Villiers.
The Springbok skipper is sitting out because of the sternum injury that made him a doubtful starter for last week’s final Castle Lager Incoming Series test against Samoa in Pretoria.
De Villiers is replaced by fellow Springbok Juan de Jongh at outside centre, which was where he played in the last Super Rugby match against the Southern Kings at the start of the month.
That is the only change from the side that beat the Kings, although there are two further changes on the bench, with Scarra Ntubeni returning as the back-up hooker and Ross Geldenhuys, formerly of the Lions and Kings, making his Stormers debut among the reserves.
The Stormers have only a slim mathematical chance of making the Super Rugby playoffs but coach Allister Coetzee says there will be no lack of motivation as his men look to improve on the form they showed before the break for the international window.
“We have a big challenge this weekend and we obviously want to make up for our first round loss to the Cheetahs, where we put ourselves in a position to lose a game we were about to win with a poor attitude at the last scrum of the match,” said Coetzee.
“Players wanting to be noticed by the Springbok coach for the Castle Rugby Championship obviously have a lot to play for, but that will only come about if the team does well, and the team focus is to finish this competition strongly. We’re 11th on the log at the moment and obviously we want to improve on that.
“It’s been good to have the Boks back this week, and they’ve injected energy. You have to compliment the professionalism of someone like Bryan Habana, who is a legend of the game and scored his 50th try in the Springbok jersey this past weekend and yet was out at the High Performance Centre on Monday getting stuck in at training on a very wet day.”
Coetzee said he was looking forward to seeing what De Jongh, who did not play in any of the incoming tour tests, could bring after not playing for several weeks.
“He’s up against Robert Ebersohn and the Cheetahs also have Johann Sadie. Those two guys have been playing well. When you’re up against a good combination it always motivates you just that little bit more, so I’m expecting a lot from Juan.”
Fourie has moved to blindside flank for the last two matches but will still be operating as a ball scavenger, and he and Siya Kolisi are in for a tough battle against the Cheetahs’ Heinrich Brussow.
“We all know that Heinrich has a point to prove and he has been proving it all season,” said the Stormers stand-in captain.
“I’ve played against him as a flank before and we all know his capabilities, so I am anticipating a tough battle.”
A tough battle is what Saturday’s game will be allround, with the Cheetahs coming to Cape Town needing to win to keep in touch with the battle for a top six place after faltering against the Bulls in Bloemfontein last time out.
The DHL Stormers team: Joe Pietersen, Gio Aplon, Juan de Jongh, Damian de Allende, Bryan Habana, Elton Jantjies, Louis Schreuder, Nizaam Carr, Deon Fourie (capt), Siya Kolisi, De Kock Steenkamp, Eben Etzebeth, Brok Harris, Tiaan Liebenberg, Steven Kitshoff
Replacements: Scarra Ntubeni, Ross Geldenhuys, Gerbrandt Grobler, Don Armand, Dewaldt Duvenage, Gary van Aswegen, Gerhard van den Heever.