CAPE TOWN – He rumbled his way through the Lions pack in the second half at Newlands, and now Eben Etzebeth will put his foot down from the start.
The Springbok stalwart has been cleared to wear the No 4 jersey for the Stormers in Saturday’s massive showdown with the Sharks at Kings Park in Durban (5.15pm kickoff).
Etzebeth played a major part in pulling the Stormers back into the game against the Lions at Newlands last weekend, as he rampaged forward with a number of strong ball-carries, tackles and even lineout steals.
The Cape side went all the way to the fifth minute of injury time before Herschel Jantjies darted over, and SP Marais kicked the decisive conversion for a 19-17 victory.
Etzebeth has been working his way back from a foot injury sustained on last year’s Springbok tour to Europe, and he will be looking to spark a Stormers pack that battled at the breakdowns and gave away a number of unnecessary penalties against the Lions.
In addition, Jantjies gets a well deserved opportunity to wear the No 9 jersey after bringing a bit more zest to the scrumhalf berth in the second half last week – with Jano Vermaak missing out due to injury.
Jantjies’ pace around the fringes will keep opposite number, Sharks captain and former Stormers halfback Louis Schreuder, busy on defence.
There is one other change in the starting XV, with the classy Dan du Plessis – son of former Springbok Michael du Plessis – coming in at outside centre for Ruhan Nel.
Du Plessis is better known as a creative and hard-running No 12, but will look to stamp his silky touches on the high-riding Sharks alongside Damian de Allende at Kings Park.
On the bench, Springboks Wilco Louw and Dillyn Leyds return after missing out on the Lions clash because of injury.
“We know that we will have to be sharp in every area if we are to get the result we want in Durban,” coach Robbie Fleck said on Thursday.
“Our focus is on being as accurate as possible, so that we are able to impose ourselves and our plans on the opposition.”
Team: Three changes to the DHL Stormers starting line-up to face Cell C Sharks in Durban on Saturday. Eben Etzebeth, Herschel Jantjies and Dan du Plessis to all make their first start of the season - https://t.co/oHc0J2zSE7 #iamastormer— DHL STORMERS (@THESTORMERS) February 28, 2019
15 Damian Willemse, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Dan du Plessis, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 SP Marais, 10 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 JD Schickerling, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Ali Vermaak.
Bench: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 Corné Fourie, 18 Wilco Louw, 19 Chris van Zyl, 20 Jaco Coetzee, 21 Justin Phillips, 22 Ruhan Nel, 23 Dillyn Leyds.@ashfakmohamed