Stormers head coach John Dobson has named a strong side for their opening United Rugby Championship game against Benetton Treviso on Saturday (kick-off 2pm), with flyhalf Manie Libbok making his debut for the Cape side.
The exciting 24-year-old joined the Stormers from the Sharks, where he was comfortably behind Curwin Bosch in the No 10 pecking order.
His debut will be one of the major subplots to the game to be played at the Stadio Monigo in Treviso, as flyhalf has been a problematic role for the talent-packed side for some years now.
Here is the DHL Stormers team that will start a new era in the Vodacom @URCOfficial_RSA in Treviso on Saturday. #iamastormer #dhldelivers— DHL Stormers (@THESTORMERS) September 24, 2021
📆 Saturday, September 25
⏰ 14h00 (SA & Italy time)
🏟️ Stadio Monigo, Treviso pic.twitter.com/CLcOWpj1Qy
Consistency in performance and selection has seen someone like Damian Willemse move in and out of the No 10 jumper, while injury kept Kade Wolhuter off the teamsheet in the last year. Tim Swiel has been largely dependable for Western Province and the Stormers, but the X-factor filled Libbok now gives the Stormers something different.
The Stormers are also boosted by a number of returnees from injury.
Libbok forms the halfback pairing with scrumhalf Paul de Wet, while Stefan Ungerer is also set to make his Stormers debut from the replacements bench when he comes on for De Wet.
Rikus Pretorius and Ruhan Nel are in midfield, with Warrick Gelant, Sergeal Petersen and Edwill van der Merwe forming the back three.
In the forward pack Springbok hooker Scarra Ntubeni will have Leon Lyons and Neethling Fouche either side of him, with co-captains Ernst van Rhyn and Salmaan Moerat in the second row.
Deon Fourie and Willie Engelbrecht will pack down on the side of the scrum, with Evan Roos starting at No 8 and Nama Xaba set to make an impact off the bench.
Ntubeni, Moerat, Roos and Gelant are all making their return from injuries which saw them miss the final stages of the Currie Cup.
Dobson said that his team are determined to get their campaign off to a positive start.
"We have named a strong team for what we know will be a big challenge to start this exciting new era.
"It has been a great week together here in Treviso and we are looking forward to seeing what these combinations can do," he said.
Stormers: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Ruhan Nel, 12 Rikus Pretorius, 11 Edwill van der Merwe, 10 Manie Libbok, 9 Paul de Wet, 8 Evan Roos, 7 Willie Engelbrecht, 6 Deon Fourie, 5 Salmaan Moerat, 4 Ernst van Rhyn, 3 Neethling Fouche, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Leon Lyons.
Replacements: 16 Andre-Hugo Venter, 17 Dian Bleuler, 18 Sazi Sandi, 19 Adre Smith, 20 Nama Xaba, 21 Stefan Ungerer, 22 Tim Swiel, 23 Juan de Jongh.