Stormers coach Robbie Fleck has strangely opted to reinstate Jean-Luc du Plessis at flyhalf for Saturday’s huge North-South Derby against the Bulls at Newlands.
Du Plessis has been battling to regain his best form this season, having returned from a long-term injury this year.
He hasn’t found the attacking spark that was a feature of his approach in the past, and it has led to calls for Springbok Damian Willemse to be restored in his preferred No 10 jersey.
But Fleck has once again resisted. Having handed Josh Stander a start in last week’s 19-17 defeat to the Brumbies, the coach recalled Du Plessis on Thursday.
There are seven changes in total to the starting XI, with Damian de Allende returning from his enforced rest at inside centre, while JJ Engelbrecht will partner him in midfield due to an injury to Ruhan Nel.
As expected, captain Siya Kolisi, JD Schickerling and Frans Malherbe bolster the forwards, with Eben Etzebeth back from injury off the bench.
Scarra Ntubeni will start at hooker in place of Bongi Mbonambi.
“We will need all of our experience on Saturday in what will be a typically fierce derby at Newlands,” Fleck said in a statement.
“It is great to welcome back some senior players for this game, but it will require a big effort from every single one of us to deliver the performance we are looking for on Saturday.”
15 Damian Willemse, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Dillyn Leyds, 10 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Kobus van Dyk, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 JD Schickerling, 4 Cobus Wiese, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Bench: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Corné Fourie, 18 Wilco Louw, 19 Eben Etzebeth, 20 Ernst van Rhyn, 21 Justin Phillips, 22 Joshua Stander, 23 Seabelo Senatla.@ashfakmohamed