Springbok No12 Damian de Allende is being rested this week along with regular flyhalf Jean-Luc du Plessis, providing opportunities for Dan Kriel and Joshua Stander. It will be both players’ first starts of the 2019 season.
It won’t, though, be the first time the duo are paired in the 10-12 axis, having excelled together in last year’s Currie Cup for Western Province.
“I think they played pretty well during the Currie Cup, so it’s a combination that has worked in the past. That’s a probably the main reason we put them together. We’re resting Jean-Luc this week, so Josh comes in at No10. So that combination went pretty well in the Currie Cup, and pretty well in training, so looking forward to how they go this weekend,” Fleck told the media.
Although the focus will primarily be on Stander at first-five, particularly with Du Plessis yet to show any consistent form since returning from a long-term injury at the beginning of the season, Kriel will also be relishing an opportunity to show his worth at Super Rugby level.
He enjoyed a good pre-season and with Dan du Plessis now seemingly out for a long period yet again through another injury, there is a chance to stake a claim for more regular game-time even when De Allende returns.
Kriel’s direct opponent today, Brumbies inside centre Tom Wright, will certainly pose the hard questions. Wright is an integral part of the Brumbies’ lethal attack- the visitors have crossed the whitewash 30 times already this season - forming a potent 10-12 combination with Brumbies captain and talisman Christian Lealiifano.