CAPE TOWN - EARLIER this week, Stormers coach John Dobson said that they are lucky to play the Cheetahs in their first game as he expects them to field a full-strength team for their first match of the Preparation Series. And he was right.
The Free State team went with close to a full-strength line-up for the match at Cape Town Stadium, while the Stormers have mixed it up with youth and a bit of experience with the goal of giving all players some game time. Speaking during the team announcement press conference, Dobson said this game will present a good opportunity to ‘gauge’ their players – something that’s needed, especially for a guy like Kade Wolhuter, who can be expected to play a role during the Rainbow Cup.
“We are actually quite lucky that our first two games are against the Cheetahs and Griquas. Those teams aren’t involved in the Rainbow Cup, I would imagine they will be playing close to their full strength teams and will have all the points to prove,” said Dobson.
“Griquas had a tough time in the Currie Cup and deserved better and Cheetahs were certainly unlucky. Those are two high-level oppositions. So it gives us a chance to gauge our squad. Let’s say there might be 30 or 32 places in the Rainbow Cup squad, a player like a Marcel Theunissen or BJ Dixon is playing for his place on that plane.”
While Dobson didn’t go with a heavy Springbok flavour for the match, he explained that it’s not pointless risking his Boks in a series that only serves as preparation. It is, instead, the most opportune time to get those players match fit.
“There is definitely (a point to it), that’s why they chose to call it a preparation series. At what stage we do that is up for debate. We could be going into a two-week quarantine and our next game might be – if I am sucking it out of the air – Leinster. Then you could be asking Steven Kitshoff, who played his last game on 23 January, to play against Leinster. That’s how you could get Kitshoff injured. So, they will be playing in this series. Chris (van Zyl) will be the captain for the whole series. We have to get our guys as close to match fitness as possible.”
Zas, 10 Kade Wolhuter, 9 Godlen Masimla, 8 Juarno Augustus, 7 Ben-Jason Dixon, 6 Marcel Theunissen, 5 Chris van Zyl (c), 4 David Meihuizen, 3 Neethling Fouche, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Ali Vermaak.
Replacements: 16 Chad Solomon, 17 Leon Lyons, 18 Sazi Sandi, 19 Johan du Toit, 20 Ernst van Rhyn, 21 Paul de Wet, 22 Abner van Reenen, 23 Mnombo Zwelendaba.
CHEETAHS: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Duncan Saal, 13 Chris Smit, 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Rosko Specman, 10 Reinhardt Fortuin, 9 Tian Meyer, 8 Jeandre Rudolph, 7 George Cronje, 6 Andisa Ntsila, 5 Rynier Bernardo, 4 Carl Wegner (c), 3 Aranos Coetzee, 2 Wilmar Arnoldi, 1 Schalk Ferreira.
Replacements: 16 Marnus van der Merwe, 17 Conraad van Vuuren, 18 Khutha Mchunu, 19 Victor Sekekete, 20 Aidon Davis, 21 Ruan Pienaar 22 Dries Swanepoel, 23 Rhyno Smith.