Every single player in the Stormers team will want to beat the Lions on Saturday, they’ll want to do it badly. And Sikhumbuzo Notshe is probably one of those players who’ll want a win the most.
Notshe will run out in his 50th game for the Stormers at Newlands tomorrow (5.15pm kickoff), and he’ll get to do so at No 8 - his preferred position.
The 24-year-old will start in a new-look back row alongside skipper Siya Kolisi, who was rested against the Sunwolves, and Kobus van Dyk at blindside flank. Nizaam Carr and Cobus Wiese will add some back-up on the bench.
The only other change to the run-on pack for the Super Rugby contest is Jan de Klerk, who is in for Springbok lock Pieter-Steph du Toit who was ruled out due to illness.
Hooker Bongi Mbonambi is back from injury after undergoing an emergency operation on a burst appendix 10 weeks ago, and he’ll provide cover for Ramone Samuels on the bench.
Bok loosehead Steven Kitshoff also returns from injury to take up a spot on the bench, and in the backline Raymond Rhule completes the changes as he comes in on the left wing.
Rhule replaces Seabelo Senatla, who has joined the Blitzboks as they prepare for the last two legs of the 2017-18 World Sevens Series. EW Vijoen and Craig Barry will be required to add some impact when they come off the bench in the must-win encounter.
There will be no shortage of pressure on the Stormers tomorrow, and Kolisi says they’re not going to waste energy by worrying about the outcomes of other games.
The Stormers’ chances of making the playoffs are slim at best, and they’re going to have to hope for the other results to go their way.
The Sharks - who are eighth on the combined log with 28 points - will face the Jaguares in Buenos Aires tonight, while the Bulls (10th on the log with 24 points) and the Rebels (ninth, with 25 points) will battle the Sunwolves and Brumbies respectively this weekend.
A victory for any of those teams will spell disaster for the Stormers.
Despite all of that, Kolisi says they’re going to try and control the controllables when they meet the men from Johannesburg tomorrow afternoon.
“Our only focus is only on this game because we can’t think about what other teams might or might not do” Kolisi said.
“We are not wasting energy on that. We want to finish strong by winning our last three games. That’s all we can do.”
Stormers: 15 SP Marais, 14 Dillyn Leyds, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Kobus van Dyk, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Chris van Zyl, 4 Jan de Klerk, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Ramone Samuels, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg.
Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Frans Malherbe, 19 Cobus Wiese, 20 Nizaam Carr, 21 Paul de Wet, 22 EW Viljoen, 23 Craig Barry.