CAPE TOWN – The Stormers suffered a major setback ahead of their trip to Argentina this week, with Springbok duo Siya Kolisi and Pieter-Steph du Toit both ruled out.
Captain Kolisi is being rested, along with prop Frans Malherbe as part of the Bok management plan, while Du Toit has been laid low with a shoulder injury sustained against the Bulls on Saturday at Newlands.
The clash against the Jaguares at the Estadio Jose Amalfitani is crucial in the overall context of the South African conference, with the teams level on 23 points.
The Jaguares have played a game less than their South African counterparts, though.
However, the Stormers will head to South America filled with renewed confidence after taking the honours in the North-South derby.
Equally, they also trounced the Jaguares with a bonus-point earlier this season with the win built on a swarming defensive effort and a physical onslaught upfront.
Coach Robbie Fleck is acutely aware of the challenge that awaits his troops in the Jaguares’ backyard.
“It is a massive game for us. We know they are a different beast in Argentina. There is lot more energy there, and the crowd gets behind them,” Fleck said.
“They’re a pretty physical side, they’re an emotional side. Every team that has gone over there has struggled, apart from probably the Lions, which was in the early part of the season.
“We will do our homework and see what worked at Newlands, but knowing they will grow an extra arm and extra leg playing at home.
“We have shown that we can win away, in terms of the Rebels, so it’s just another blade of grass only a couple of thousand kilometres away.”
The Stormers were hit by a further injury to promising loose forward Ernst van Rhyn. The Maties youngster has grown in stature over the last couple of weeks since his debut against the Rebels in the final match of the Australasian tour.
Van Rhyn’s performances have certainly not gone unnoticed by Fleck, who compared him to former Western Province and current England flank Don Armand.
“He has outstanding work-rate,” the Stormers mentor said. “He is impressive in the tight exchanges, particularly his contact work.
“He obviously gets that from playing at lock. He is a versatile player, can play anywhere between No 6 and 8, and reminds me a lot of Armand – a really quality young player coming through.”
Fortunately for the Stormers, they will welcome back Jaco Coetzee and Springbok Sikhumbuzo Notshe from injury.
Coetzee has been one of the finds for the Stormers this season, and will add a great deal of thrust from the back of the scrum, while Notshe’s dynamism and fleet-footedness on attack is always a threat.
Jaco Coetzee, Damian de Allende, Jean-Luc du Plessis, Johan du Toit, JJ Engelbrecht, Eben Etzebeth, Neethling Fouche, Corne Fourie, Herschel Jantjies, Steven Kitshoff, Dan Kriel, Michael Kumbirai, Dillyn Leyds, Wilco Louw, Bongi Mbonambi, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Scarra Ntubeni, Sergeal Petersen, Justin Phillips, JD Schickerling, Seabelo Senatla, Josh Stander, Kobus van Dyk, Cobus Wiese, Damian Willemse.@ZaahierAdams