CAPE TOWN - If you want to know how seriously the Stormers are taking their Super Rugby pre-season game against the Bulls at Boland Stadium on Saturday (kick-off 4 pm), you only have to look at the players Stormers coach Robbie Fleck has included in his squad.
Fleck named Springboks Steven Kitshoff, Wilco Louw and Dillyn Leyds in his 28-man squad, while scrumhalves Dewaldt Duvenage and Justin Phillips, flyhalf Damian Willemse, centre EW Viljoen, lock Jan de Klerk and hooker Bongi Mbonambi - who all missed out on the warm-up game against SWD in George - are also in the group for Wellington.
And following their demolition of the Eagles at Outeniqua in that first pre-season friendly, Fleck said that the warm-up should be a good opportunity to do a couple of final checks before they kick off their campaign against the Jaguares at Newlands on February 17.
“The players have worked very hard in the pre-season, so this match will give us a good chance to get some competitive game-time under our belts,” he added. “We want to ensure that our players are up to speed, so that we can be at our best at the start of what will be another demanding season.”
Eben Etzebeth (shoulder), Pieter-Steph du Toit (back), captain Siya Kolisi (hamstring), Juarno Augustus (neck), Jano Vermaak (knee), Scarra Ntubeni (hamstring), Frans Malherbe (neck) and Ali Vermaak (hamstring) were not available due to injury, while Jean-Luc du Plessis (hip) and Dan du Plessis (shoulder) are recovering from long-term injuries.
There will also be a Western Province Invitational side going up against Boland Elite in a curtain-raiser (1:50 pm).
Former SA Schools captain and lock Salmaan Moerat and flyhalf Joshua Stander are set to receive game time in both matches in Wellington. Seabelo Senatla and Sikhumbuzo Notshe are away on Springbok Sevens duty and Nizaam Carr is being rested.
Forwards: Jaco Coetzee, Jan de Klerk, Stephan de Wit, Johan du Toit, JC Janse van Rensberg, Steven Kitshoff, Wilco Louw, Bongi Mbonambi, Salmaan Moerat, Carlu Sadie, Ramone Samuels, JD Schickerling, Chris van Zyl, Kobus van Dyk, Cobus Wiese
Backs: Craig Barry, Damian de Allende, Dewaldt Duvenage, Dan Kriel, Eduan Keyter, Dillyn Leyds, Justin Phillips, Sergeal Petersen, Raymond Rhule, Joshua Stander, EW Viljoen, George Whitehead, Damian Willemse