CAPE TOWN - The Stormers might have nothing left to lose, but coach Robbie Fleck is looking forward to giving their departing players a memorable send-off against the Sharks at Newlands on Saturday (5:15pm kickoff).
The Stormers cannot qualify for the Super Rugby playoffs anymore after winning just five of their 15 games, but according to Fleck, Nizaam Carr, Dewaldt Duvenage and Raymond Rhule will add some meaning to the coastal derby. Carr will join England Premiership side Wasps on a permanent basis after the Super Rugby season, while Duvenage will head to Benetton Treviso and Rhule will join JC Janse van Rensburg at Grenoble.
“It’s really about ending off on a high note and giving the guys who are leaving a good send off and there’s no better team to do that against than the Sharks,” said Fleck during the team announcement. The Sharks are going to give everything. It’s going to be a massive game for them, they’ll be desperate to qualify.
“If they lose this game they’re in danger of not qualifying. So it’s a must-win for them, but we’ve got the same mindset. We’ve got a bit of pride and that’s probably the biggest motivation for us. So we’ll be ready for it.”
Fleck has made five changes for the coastal derby, and Stormers skipper Siya Kolisi will miss their last Super Rugby game of the 2018 season due to illness, while Pieter-Steph du Toit, who captained the Springboks against Wales in the US, will lead the Stormers at Newlands in his absence.
Kobus van Dyk will start at the side of the scrum in the place of Kolisi, and the only other changes to the forward pack will see props Janse van Rensburg and Frans Malherbe come into the starting line-up on either side of hooker Bongi Mbonambi, with JD Schickerling and Juarno Augustus among the replacements.
Appreciate every moment. You never know when it’s your last 🙏🏼 ‘Attack the space , do you see it bro ‘ 😂😂 pic.twitter.com/4QEbwSAAeU
In the backline, it will be a big one for utility back Dillyn Leyds, who will make his 50th appearance when he starts at fullback. In the other changes to the backline EW Viljoen starts at outside centre, with JJ Engelbrecht moving to the wing with Craig Barry, while Joshua Stander and scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies will add back-up on the bench.
Fleck explained that Carr is struggling with a shoulder joint niggle, while scrumhalf Justin Phillps is also on the injury list. “Nizaam has got an AC joint so he’s not available either. Justin Phillips broke his ribs on the weekend so he’s not available either,” Fleck said.
There are also concerns about flyhalf Jean-Luc du Plessis, who has had to take over from Damian Willemse after he picked up a knee injury during the World Rugby Under-20 Championships in France. Ideally, Fleck said, that he would have preferred to ease Du Plessis in after recovering from a groin injury. “Jean-Luc du Plessis' groin issues, he didn’t train today (Thursday) because of that,” Fleck said. “We have to be careful with how we manage him."
Stormers team: 15 Dillyn Leyds, 14 JJ Engelbrecht, 13 EW Viljoen, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit (captain), 6 Kobus van Dyk, 5 Jan de Klerk, 4 Cobus Wiese, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 JC Janse van Rensberg. Replacements:16 Ramone Samuels, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Wilco Louw, 19 JD Schickerling, 20 Juarno Augustus, 21 Herschel Jantjies, 22 Josh Stander, 23 Craig Barry.