CAPE TOWN – Stormers coach Robbie Fleck believes the Hurricanes remain a formidable challenge in Wellington this Saturday despite the home team missing a couple of All Blacks.
The Hurricanes made 10 changes to the side that drew with the Chiefs last week. This includes All Blacks TJ Perenara and Ngani Laumape due to the duo being forced to sit out according to New Zealand Rugby regulations which don’t allow them to play more than five matches in a row. Star hooker Dane Coles will also miss the game.
Fleck, though, believes the 2017 champions still have enough class, particularly within their impressive backline unit where the Barrett brothers - Beauden and Jordie - rule the roost.
“They have always had exciting backs, even though guys like Perenara and Laumape are missing out. They are still a very capable and dangerous side, especially out wide with (Chase) TiaTia at 15 and (Matt) Proctor at 13.They are campaigners that have put other teams to bed,” Fleck said.
“Equally, with Jordie at 12, he has played flyhalf, wing, fullback before he is an outstanding player. He brings a different dynamic. With both brothers running the axis at 10 and 12, it will be interesting to see how they go.”
There is still some uncertainty surrounding Eben Etzebeth’s head injury, but Fleck believes they have it covered.
“He is in the team but unfortunately that is not quite it as far as Eben is concerned for this match because he failed the fifth stage of the concussion protocol today,” he said.
“That means he still has to pass stage five, so we will give him until Friday to do that. Playing him won’t be risky as we have followed all the protocols. Eben is obviously very keen to play. If he is passed to play, then he will start.
“If he doesn’t play it won’t be too disruptive as we have trained with JD (Schickerling) and Salmaan (Moerat) this week.”
The Stormers have also made three changes to their team that defeated the Jaguares last week with Schickerling, Scarra Ntubeni and Dan du Plessis dropping to the bench. The trio are replaced by Chris van Zyl, Bongi Mbonambi and Ruhan Nel respectively.
Dillyn Leyds, Sergeal Petersen, Ruhan Nel, Damian de Allende, SP Marais, Jean-Luc du Plessis, Herschel Jantjies, Juarno Augustus, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Siya Kolisi (captain), Chris van Zyl, Eben Etzebeth, Frans Malherbe, Bongi Mbonambi, Steven Kitshoff.
Bench: Scarra Ntubeni, Corne Fourie, Wilco Louw, JD Schickerling, Jaco Coetzee, Justin Phillips, Dan du Plessis, Damian Willemse.
Chase Tiatia, Wes Goosen, Matt Proctor, Jordie Barrett, Ben Lam, Beauden Barrett, Richard Judd, Reed Prinsep, Ardie Savea, Vaea Fifita, Liam Mitchell, James Blackwell, Ben May, Ricky Riccitelli, Fraser Armstrong.
Bench: James O’Reilly, Xavier Numia, Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, Isaia Walker-Leawere. Sam Henwood, Finlay Christie, Fletcher Smith, Danny Toala.@ZaahierAdams