Cape Town – To be able to field two specialist locks – and members of the Springbok squad as well – in Saturday’s United Rugby Championship clash against Zebre has come as welcome relief for the Stormers.
The Cape outfit have had to make do with fielding loose forward Ernst van Rhyn in the second row, with Marvin Orie on national duty for most of the year, and David Meihuizen sidelined with an ankle injury.
New Griquas recruit Adré Smith was then also suspended for eight weeks for foul play against Munster, although that has now seemingly been revoked following an appeal.
Stormers forwards coach Rito Hlungwani confirmed that Smith’s ban has been overturned, but said he was still waiting for an official notice from the URC in order for the lock to be made available for selection.
But Hlungwani was all smiles yesterday when talking about Moerat and Orie ahead of the Zebre game at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday (3pm kickoff).
In addition, Bok utility back Damian Willemse is also back in the squad and available to play.
“It’s quite exciting to have Salmaan and Marvin back. Very different players – Marvin very experienced when it comes to lineouts… he will give us a good buffer there. He hasn’t played in a while, so we just hope he’s not rusty. If he is, then we will train him so that come Saturday, he is nice and ready,” the former WP lock said.
“We know how well Moon (Moerat) did when we toured overseas in the URC. He has also become a good lineout-caller now, which will also give us a bit of room to move when it comes to substitutions.
“Deon Fourie left the tour early, and he’s still out. Sazi (Sandi) has a bit of a niggle around his knee, and is not up for selection this week.
“Chad (Solomon) has been training for the past couple of weeks, and is slowly getting back to full fitness. Meihuizen is still out for this week, and it’s good to have Salmaan back, and looking forward to having more of the other guys back soon.
“Salmaan and Marvin were both touring with the Springboks, so they will be available for us this weekend.
“Damian Willemse is available for us, so that is pretty much the three players I was referring to. They are not totally new, but haven’t been around us, especially Damian and Marvin – Salmaan obviously toured with the Boks – but it’s very good to have them back.
“And they have been training, so hopefully they will be up for selection this week.”
With Sandi out injured, Neethling Fouché is sure to continue in the No 3 jersey, but with Bok tighthead Frans Malherbe also injured, veteran Brok Harris may have to help out on the right-hand side of the scrum after impressive displays at loosehead prop in the absence of Bok star Steven Kitshoff.
“Sazi has taken a few steps forward and we are quite happy with his achievements, and he did quite well on tour – it’s just a pity he’s got a bit of a niggle,” Hlungwani said.top:max(60%,326px);height:0;width:100%">
“Brokkie is an experienced campaigner and he played tighthead before leaving South Africa. Lee-Marvin Mazibuko is also a tighthead, and has played in some big games for us. So, Neethling is there, Brokkie and Lee-Marvin.