CAPE TOWN – While the Stormers have really stepped up in their last two games, it’s going to be crucial that they don’t fall off the track going forward, although they’ll be without two of their key conductors.
Head coach Robbie Fleck yesterday confirmed that captain Siya Kolisi has been ruled out for the remainder of the Super Rugby season.
The Stormers have three league games remaining, with the Sunwolves and Sharks still to visit Newlands following the Cape side’s match against the Lions at Ellis Park tomorrow.
In their top 34-22 victory over the Highlanders last weekend, Kolisi, pictured, was carried off the Newlands pitch after injuring his knee before halftime. He was sent for scans immediately after the match. During the team announcement, Fleck said he isn’t expecting the flanker back before the end of their Super Rugby campaign - a definite blow considering the form Kolisi has showed in recent weeks.
He scored two stunning, almost copy-and-paste tries, against the Crusaders and the Highlanders, while his work off the ball has also been immense.
In a further blow to the team, Pieter-Steph du Toit and Kobus van Dyk have also been ruled out with respective injuries.
Du Toit could be back for their final fixture against the Sharks, while Van Dyk will be sidelined for up to three months.
Steven Kitshoff will lead the team in Kolisi’s absence against the Lions, while Sikhumbuzo Notshe will start at No 8, with Jaco Coetzee shifting to openside flank and Pieter-Steph’s younger brother Johan du Toit coming in at blindside flank.
In a bit of good news for the Stormers, Eben Etzebeth returns after he was a late withdrawal last week. He will take his place in the second row alongside Cobus Wiese.
In the front row, a rotational change will see Wilco Louw starting at tighthead prop, with Frans Malherbe moving to the bench.
Among the replacements, fit-again utility forward Ernst van Rhyn returns, while a potential Stormers debut awaits loose forward Marno Redelinghuys.
The Stormers are currently last in the South African conference, and their remaining games are must-wins if they want to snatch a wildcard spot in the playoffs.
The Lions, while one position above the Stormers on the combined log (eighth), will also be keen to strengthen their chances with a win.
The Stormers team is:
15 Damian Willemse, 14 Seabelo Senatla, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Dillyn Leyds, 10 Josh Stander, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Johan du Toit, 6 Jaco Coetzee, 5 Cobus Wiese, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff (c)
Replacements: 16 Chad Solomon, 17 Corne Fourie, 18 Frans Malherbe, 19 Ernst van Rhyn, 20 Marno Redelinghuys, 21 Justin Phillips, 22 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 23 Dan Kriel.@WynonaLouw