SP Marais of the Stormers places the ball to kick for posts. Photo: Gerhard Duraan/BackpagePix

CAPE TOWN - First-choice fullback SP Marais is back in the mix for the Stormers for Saturday’s huge Super Rugby quarter-final against the Chiefs.
Marais has been out of action for the last few weeks with a knee injury, which has seen Springbok Dillyn Leyds shift from wing to No 15.

However, such has been Leyds’ form in the last line of defence that it could present a selection dilemma for coach Robbie Fleck.

Fullback is arguably Leyds’ best position, and he carved the Bulls to pieces on attack in the past weekend’s 41-33 victory at Loftus Versfeld.

He was heavily involved in the play, and perhaps being bold in selection might be the only way the Stormers can take the game to the Chiefs, who thrashed them 60-21 in the corresponding fixture last year at Newlands.

Marais, though, has also been in top form in 2017, and it is a tough call for Fleck to make. But another consideration is that Marais last played on July 1 against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein, and the addition of Seabelo Senatla in the back-three has added searing pace to the Stormers’ attack.

Senatla had a few handling issues against the Bulls, but there is no doubt that he can be a match-winner for the Stormers against the Chiefs, who boast their own lethal back division that includes Damian McKenzie, James Lowe, Anton Lienert-Brown and Aaron Cruden.

Apart from Marais, prop Wilco Louw and flank Rynhardt Elstadt have also been passed fit for Saturday.

The Stormers are preparing themselves for an almighty onslaught from the two-time champions at Newlands (5pm kickoff), and will need all hands on deck to counter the expected total onslaught from the Kiwis.

Louw (knee) and Elstadt (wrist) were late withdrawals from the Stormers outfit ahead of their victory over the Bulls, and were replaced by Frans van Wyk (for Louw on the bench) and Sikhumbuzo Notshe (blindside flank).

Loose forward Kobus van Dyk has also recovered from a knee problem, while props Oli Kebble (hamstring) and Ali Vermaak (calf) are also available for selection.

@ashfakmohamed
IOL Sport