CAPE TOWN – Competition. That’s what Robbie Fleck’s 26-man squad for their superhero-themed warm-up game against the Bulls on Sunday screams.
With the greater part of their Springboks held back, Chris van Zyl will captain a side filled with options and combinations that will undoubtedly give Fleck a pleasant headache or two when their Super Rugby proceedings officially kick off, especially seeing as the team were tormented by injuries this time last year.
The Super Rugby pre-season clash, set to kick-off at 4.15pm at Cape Town Stadium on Sunday, will be played directly after the contest between the Lions and Sharks.
There is no doubt that it will be a very different Stormers team that runs out at Loftus against the Bulls in their Super Rugby-opener in two weeks’ time.
And their Thor jerseys won’t be the only contrast. That’s a certainty, just like the level of competition in the group.
The back three is a prime example of that. While last year’s Currie Cup star Sergeal Petersen will be on the bench, Seabelo Senatla, pictured, will get to light up the Cape Town Stadium pitch in the 15-man game when he starts on the right wing.
Another massive back-three battle will see Dillyn Leyds - who has consistently starred in the last line of defence - start at fullback with Damian Willemse on the bench, and it’s a position he will be deadset on making his own given his willingness to continue familiarising himself with the No 15 jersey in preparation for Bok duty.
In midfield, Dan Kriel will look to continue the impressive form he showed in the Stormers’ first warm-up game against False Bay and a combined club XV last week, while Dan du Plessis will provide midfield cover among the replacements.
Up front, the showings of the starting Juarno Augustus and Sikhumbuzo Notshe (on the bench) will also make for an appetising contest.
Otherwise up front, the loose trio of flanks Jaco Coetzee, Cobus Wiese and Augustus will have support from replacements Notshe and Kobus van Dyk.
Van Zyl starts alongside Salmaan Moerat in the second row, with Ernst van Rhyn and JD Schickerling among the replacements.
In the front row, hooker Scarra Ntubeni will have props Ali Vermaak and Michael Kumbirai either side of him, with new recruit Corne Fourie, Chad Solomon and Wilco Louw set to make an impact in the second half.
Fleck said that his team are looking forward to what should be a special occasion.
“There will be a big crowd and a special atmosphere this Sunday and the players are all looking forward to the experience,” Fleck said.
“On the field this will be an important step forward for us in our preparations for the upcoming campaign, so we are hoping to take a lot out of this game.”
The Stormers team is:
15 Dillyn Leyds, 14 Seabelo Senatla, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Dan Kriel, 11 SP Marais, 10 Joshua Stander, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Juarno Augustus, 7 Cobus Wiese, 6 Jaco Coetzee, 5 Chris van Zyl (captain), 4 Salmaan Moerat, 3 Michael Kumbirai, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Ali Vermaak
Replacements: 16 Chad Solomon, 17 Corne Fourie, 18 Wilco Louw, 19 Ernst van Rhyn, 20 JD Schickerling, 21 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 22 Kobus van Dyk, 23 Herschel Jantjies, 24 Damian Willemse, 25 Sergeal Petersen, 26 Dan du Plessis.@WynonaLouw