CAPE TOWN – Stormers coach Robbie Fleck says the Waratahs’ aerial game and threats out wide facilitated his backline shake-up ahead of Saturday’s Super Rugby contest in Sydney (10.45am SA time kickoff).
The Stormers will kick off their three-match tour to Australasia against the Waratahs this weekend, before heading to New Zealand to face the Crusaders and the Highlanders.
SP Marais – who recovered from a toe injury – will start at fullback in the place of Dillyn Leyds, who moves to right wing, with Raymond Rhule on the left.
The move sees Seabelo Senatla, who was threatening in the Stormers’ opener against the Jaguares, fall out of the match-day squad completely.
Beefing the backline up also seems to be the plan, as JJ Engelbrecht will get his first Stormers start at inside centre, while EW Viljoen moves to the replacements bench.
“SP is fit and quite an obvious choice there for us this week,” Fleck said from Sydney. “His strong left foot adds a different dimension to our backline.
“We’re expecting an aerial battle from the likes of (Kurtley) Beale and (Bernard) Foley, and the likes of (Israel) Folau in the wide channel. Dillyn (Leyds) will move back to the wing, with Raymond Rhule on the other wing with SP at the back.
“We want to have a look at JJ. We didn’t see much of him last week against the Jaguares. He’s an experienced midfielder who’s good in the air.
“EW played really well last week and he has definitely brought his form from last year with him.
“This switch is not about weighing up the strengths of the two players. It’s about trying out combinations, which is ideal on this trip.”
Upfront, Pieter-Steph du Toit is back to fitness and will start at No 5 alongside last weekend’s Man of the Match JD Schickerling, with Chris van Zyl moving to the bench.
In the back row, Kobus van Dyk comes in for Cobus Wiese, while Sikhumbuzo Notshe, who’s fresh out of sevens rugby, will provide some flair from the bench.
“Upfront we’re rotating Cobus Wiese and Kobus van Dyk and bringing Notshe in to make an impact from the bench,” said Fleck. “Cobus Wiese had a good game last week. There’s a few things he needs to work on, but we’re pretty excited for his part, and there’s still another two tour games to go.”
The Stormers Team is:
15 SP Marais 14 Dillyn Leyds 13 JJ Engelbrecht 12 Damian de Allende 11 Raymond Rhule 10 Damian Willemse 9 Dewaldt Duvenage 8 Nizaam Carr 7 Kobus van Dyk 6 Siya Kolisi (captain) 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit 4 JD Schickerling 3 Wilco Louw 2 Ramone Samuels 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Bench: 16 Dean Muir 17 JC Janse van Rensburg 18 Carlu Sadie 19 Chris van Zyl 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe 21 Justin Phillips 22 George Whitehead 23 EW Viljoen.