There are ’auditions’ in every Stormers game
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CAPE TOWN - With a few new players incoming for the Stormers, there are quite a few guys who will want to put on their best performances to lock down a position, or at least make sure that they have a good chance of holding onto their spots once the new additions arrive.
Competition is always good, especially in a team as talent-blessed as the Stormers. After all, in sport few things have a more galvanising effect than knowing you have a couple of contenders hot on your heels.
So, here are two positional areas that will now become “auditions” as the Rainbow Cup SA resumes this weekend.
Since Springbok star Damian de Allende's departure, there have been a few issues in midfield, although it's not exactly an area where the Stormers are dry.
After Welsh international Jamie Roberts returned to the UK after the Covid-19 pandemic hit, Rikus Pretorius and Dan du Plessis built a midfield partnership, with Ruhan Nel also having featured significantly at No 13 alongside Pretorius at 12.
And now, with Bok Juan de Jongh returning to Cape Town in July, competition will get even more stiff.
While Pretorius and Du Plessis are both inside centres, they have been playing as a pairing, and while they have at times struggled to fire as a unit (even though they are both, individually, quality players), they have also delivered some fine outings.
The arrival of De Jongh to the team's midfield stocks - and possibly lining up next to Nel at No 13 - is an exciting prospect.
Whichever combination gets to own the first-choice tag, knowing that the current crop of Stormers centres will be eager to produce mesmerising performances to strengthen their case before De Jongh joins the squad is no less exciting.
Juarno Augustus, who was granted an early release from his contract to join English Premiership side Northampton Saints in July, is a massive loss, no doubt.
The former World Rugby Under-20 Championship Player of the Tournament has struggled with injuries from the very start of his senior career, but he still managed
to show that he is more than just a junior star during the isolated uninterrupted runs he had.
While they have lost a seriously experienced guy like Siya Kolisi, the Stormers are far from running low on loose-forward options – with fit and ready guys like Ernst van Rhyn, Marcel Theunissen, Willie Engelbrecht, Evan Roos and, of course, Pieter-Steph du Toit in the mix and some of the younger guys maturing into real presences in the back row.
But former Currie Cup-winning captain Deon Fourie, set to arrive in July, can add to the Stormers' options at openside flank, especially with the promising – and seriously impressive – Nama Xaba on the sidelines. Who knows, maybe he can add potency to the No 6 role, just like he did when he made the transition from the front row to the back row before he left for France.