Head coach Allister Coetzee has announced his starting line-up for the Stormers’ first game of the Super Rugby season – against the Lions in Johannesburg on Saturday (19:10 kick-off).
Springbok skipper Jean de Villiers will lead the Stormers in their season-opener, with deputy Schalk Burger lining up in the No 7 jersey.
Burger will pack down in an all-Springbok loose trio – alongside Siya Kolisi and Duane Vermeulen – whilst three starting players will be on Super Rugby debut, with a further two debutants on the bench.
Former WP age-group star Kobus van Wyk has been rewarded for his outstanding pre-season form with a place on the wing and Michael van der Spuy will partner Jean de Villiers at centre in the absence of injured Bok midfielder Juan de Jongh.
Argentine lock Manuel Carizza will spearhead the Stormers’ lineout in his first taste of Super Rugby action, whilst flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis will make his first Super Rugby appearance for the Stormers – despite being a Currie Cup regular.
On the bench, meanwhile, Oliver Kebble will provide prop cover and fellow young gun Ryno Eksteen (recently named in the SA Under-20 training squad) will serve as the additional outside back – both players also being on Super Rugby debut.
“The Lions showed over the weekend that in Vodacom Super Rugby any team can beat any (other) team,” Coetzee told the Stormers’ official website.
“They were great at the breakdowns and their coach has an attacking mindset which worked wonders for the team in last season’s Currie Cup competition.
15. Gio Aplon, 14. Kobus van Wyk, 13. Michael van der Spuy, 12. Jean de Villiers (captain), 11. Damian de Allende, 10. Demetri Catrakilis, 9. Louis Schreuder, 8. Duane Vermeulen, 7. Schalk Burger, 6. Siya Kolisi, 5. Manuel Carizza, 4. Rynhardt Elstadt, 3. Frans Malherbe, 2. Scarra Ntubeni, 1. Steven Kitshoff
Substitutes: 16. Deon Fourie, 17. Oliver Kebble, 18. Pat Cilliers, 19. Michael Rhodes, 20. Nizaam Carr, 21. Nic Groom, 22. Kurt Coleman, 23. Ryno Eksteen