Stormers scrumhalf Neil de Kock is relishing the prospect of opposing All Black halfback Justin Marshall.

He gets the chance to do that on Saturday when they play champions Crusaders in a must-win match at Newlands.

"He is a physical player and highly rated but I won't shy away from the challenge," De Kock said this week.

The young halfback starts for the third match in a row after coming off the bench in previous matches.

"It's actually not that bad to come on because players are normally out on their feet by then and gaps open in their defence," De Kock said.

"I feel my game is steadily improving with each match but there is still lots I can improve on," he added.

The Crusaders will only finalise their team on Friday. Coach Robbie Deans said lock Norm Maxwell (groin strain) would be given until the last minute to prove his fitness.

Star flyhalf Andrew Mehrtens is over the flu that kept him out of the Bulls match last Sunday and is expected to play against the Stormers.

Meanwhile, the Western Province Vodacom Cup side to play the Lions on Saturday shows seven changes to the one that comprehensively outplayed Border last week.

Among the new recruits are the Stormers' Stuart Abbott (outside centre) and Dan van Zyl (scrumhalf).

But out are flyhalf Chris Rossouw and prop Eddie Andrews who both have back injuries.

Also back for WP is captain Tinus Linee who injured his ribs against the Mpumalanga Pumas two weeks ago.

WP secured their place in the Super Eights after suffering three consecutive defeats. Coach Gert Smal believes the disruption with team selection is not ideal but at least WP showed character in their last two matches.

"You want to build momentum but circumstances have not enabled us to do that. But we managed to come through the league stages and in the Lions have a real test on our hands," Smal said.

Wing John Daniels is back for Boland but the side was hit by a string of injuries this week, forcing coach Rudy Joubert to change his starting line-up for the Super Eight match against Griquas in Wellington on Thursday.


Percy Montgomery, Breyton Paulse, De Wet Barry, Robbie Fleck, Werner Greeff, Braam van Straaten, Neil de Kock, Bobby Skinstad, Corne Krige, Hendrik Gerber, Hottie Louw, Quinton Davids, Morne van der Merwe, Charl Marais, Robbie Kempson. Bench: Pieter Dixon, Faan Rautenbach, Robby Brink, Chean Roux, Joggie Viljoen, Pieter Rossouw and Robert Markram.

Crusaders (possible):

Leon MacDonald, Afato o'oalo, Mark Robinson, Daryl Gibson, Caleb Ralph, Andrew Mehrtens, Justin Marshall, Brad Thorn, Scott Robertson, Reuben Thorn, Norm Maxwell, Todd Blackadder (captain), Greg Somerville, Simon Gunn, Dave Hewett. Bench: Greg Feek, Andrew Hall, Sam Broomhall, Chris Jack, Ben Hurst, Aaron Mauger and Ben Blair.

Kick-off: 5pm (live on M-Net)

Western Province:

Donovan van Vuuren, Desmond Houston, Stuart Abbott, Tinus Linee, Egon Seconds, Yazeed Manuel, Dan van Zyl, Adri Badenhorst, Pietie Ferreira, Ryno van der Merwe, Drikus Hancke, Emmanuel McKenzie, Neil du Toit, Johan van Wyk and Toks van der Linde. Bench: Louis Loubscher, Piet Franken, Thys Stoltz, Fiela van Zyl, Johannes Conradie, Jean de Villiers and Chris van Pletzen.

Kick-off: 3pm (live on SABC3)


Lean van Dyk, John Daniels, Chelton April, Ashwin Willemse, Jan Ackermann, WP Strauss, Cassie Carstens, Quinn Hough, Donovan Everette, Jannie Coetzee (captain), Henk Eksteen, Heino Senekal, Andries Human, Dale Santon and Fabian Brandt. Bench: Martin van Schalkwyk, Carel van der Merwe, Vion Wium, Randile Julies, Neil Papier, Connie Malherbe and Piet van Zyl.

Kick-off: 3.30pm