Eben Etzebeth starts, new front row for Stormers against Jaguares
The Stormers lost one Springbok captain, but gained another in their starting line-up for Saturday’s Super Rugby clash against the Jaguares in Argentina.
Coach Robbie Fleck has had to rest incumbent Bok skipper Siya Kolisi due to the national team protocols in a World Cup year.
But former South African leader Eben Etzebeth is back at No 4 in a significant boost to the Stormers’ physicality.
Etzebeth came off the bench in last week’s 24-23 victory over the Bulls at Newlands, but he will be required to spearhead the Stormers’ pack against what will be a robust Jaguares unit in Buenos Aires.
The Argentinian outfit are on a three-match winning streak, having beaten the Bulls 22-20 in Pretoria and thrashed the Sharks 51-17 in Durban, before flying back home for a bye and then holding off the Brumbies 20-15.
The likes of Guido Petti and Tomas Lavanini lie in wait for Etzebeth and JD Schickerling in the second row, while the impressive Cobus Wiese moves to blindside flank for the injured Pieter-Steph du Toit.
The fit-again Jaco Coetzee takes over from Kolisi at No 6.
Fleck has opted to reinforce the front row as well for the almost must-win game at the Estadio Jose Amalfitani (9.40pm SA time kickoff).
Bongi Mbonambi and Wilco Louw replace Scarra Ntubeni and Frans Malherbe at hooker and tighthead prop, with loosehead Steven Kitshoff taking over the captaincy from Kolisi.
The one change among the backs sees Dan Kriel come in for Damian de Allende at inside centre, with De Allende on the bench, where he is joined by the returning Sikhumbuzo Notshe.
“With a bye coming up next week, we want to do everything we can to get another win on the road,” Fleck said from Buenos Aires on Thursday.
“We are excited about what this combination can achieve, and will be looking to execute as accurately as possible, while putting in maximum effort.”
15 Damian Willemse, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Dan Kriel, 11 Dillyn Leyds, 10 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Kobus van Dyk, 7 Cobus Wiese, 6 Jaco Coetzee, 5 JD Schickerling, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Steven Kitshoff (captain).
Bench: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 Corné Fourie, 18 Neethling Fouché, 19 Johan du Toit, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Justin Phillips, 22 Damian de Allende, 23 Seabelo Senatla.@ashfakmohamed