CAPE TOWN – Stormers coach Robbie Fleck says they’re trying to keep as much continuity as possible as they head into their Super Rugby date with the Rebels on Friday (kick-off 3.05pm).
The Stormers are under pressure to reach the play-offs as they’ve only won three of their nine games this season.
Their only victories have been at Newlands against the Jaguares, the Blues and the Reds, while they’ve lost all six games they played away.
And as the rush to the play-offs intensify, Fleck says that they’re still “fighting” through the competition.
“We tried to minimise the changes. We wanted as much continuity as possible. We’re not going to make any major changes to the team,” he said.
“We feel that we’re still fighting through this competition and we’re still going through a tough time at the moment and for us to make major changes obviously doesn’t make sense to us, we want to back the personnel in the group.”
In terms of the changes, Springbok lock Pieter-Steph du Toit moves back to lock to partner with Chris van Zyl at lock, while Kobus van Dyk comes into the loose trio. Cobus Wiese will make his return on the bench. And in the backline, JJ Engelbrecht returns from injury and moves to the left wing.
Sevens superstar Seabelo Senatla also makes his return from injury, while Raymond Rhule falls out of the matchday squad.
“Some of the changes we have made are injury-enforced with Jan de Klerk out and we moved Pieter-Steph back to lock. Fortunately Cobus Wiese is fit to play, so he comes onto the replacements bench covering both lock and flank,” Fleck said.
“Other than that we’ve looked to give JJ Engelbrecht a spin on the wing and bringing back Seabelo Senatla into the side, he’s obviously fully fit. Which means that Raymond Rhule gets rested, he’s played every single game.”
Regarding their position (12th on the overall Super Rugby log), Fleck said: “We’re still fighting but we keep the energy up. It hasn’t been ideal. We acknowledge that. But we’re sticking together and we’re working hard.”
“It is always good to be back at Newlands and playing in front of our faithful supporters who have played a big role in our three wins at home this season,” he said.
The Stormers team is:
15 Dillyn Leyds, 14 Craig Barry, 13 EW Viljoen, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 JJ Engelbrecht, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Kobus van Dyk, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Chris van Zyl, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Ramone Samuels, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 JC Janse van Rensburg, 18 Carlu Sadie, 19 Cobus Wiese, 20 Nizaam Carr, 21 Paul de Wet, 22 SP Marais, 23 Seabelo Senatla.