CAPE TOWN - With a few players returning from injury, how will Stormers coach Robbie Fleck’s backline look against the Bulls on Saturday?
With Dillyn Leyds and JJ Engelbrecht returning from one-week injury lay-offs and Jano Vermaak set to make his return from a longer injury break, the Stormers will certainly get a good boost as they prepare for their trip to Loftus.
In the build-up to their home game against the Reds at the weekend, the Stormers were without Leyds, who struggled with a calf injury, and Engelbrecht, who was a late withdrawal from the game against the Australians as he suffered a haematoma to his quadricep muscle.
Their absence gave Craig Barry and George Whitehead an opportunity to start for the Stormers, and following their win at Newlands, Fleck was confident that the trio of Leyds, Engelbrecht and Vermaak would be fit for the North-South derby.
While getting those players back is of course a big boost, Fleck can also feel pleased with how the stand-in players went against the Reds.
Craig Barry was massive in that game. His work rate was big and he also complimented the Stormers’ attack really well, and that perfect grubber in Reds 22 that was scooped up by Raymond Rhule and placed for the try was the ultimate reward for his contributions.
Leyds will most likely return to the run-on side at fullback - and if you look at the form he’s been in, he will certainly add a great edge to the Stormers backline for the clash against their rivals.
Leyds has been instrumental for the Stormers, and while he perhaps hasn’t been able to settle in one position due to him having to shift around in the backline due to injuries, he has performed consistently nonetheless.
He has been good on the wing while SP Marais (also injured) started in the No 15 jersey, but his performances when he’s started in the last line of defence have been outstanding.
Leyds has created a lot of opportunities for the Stormers from the back, and he’s been great on counter-attack. So his likely start at fullback this week should certainly do the Stormers well against a Bulls side who have also shown their eagerness to play an expansive game.
Engelbrecht, who can also play at outside centre, will in all likelihood find himself on the wing if he makes the starting line-up.
Against the Blues, the Springbok back added a few great touches - with his ball-carrying, his work in the wide channels and his overall sharpness when on attack adding a pleasing element to the Cape side.
And while Engelbrecht looked good against Tana Umaga’s outfit, Barry’s outing at Newlands this past weekend was also just too good to be chucked aside. And, of course, how ready to go Engelbrecht will be after struggling with discomfort ahead of the Reds game is also a factor.
And so my backline for the Bulls would be: 15 Dillyn Leyds, 14 Craig Barry, 13 EW Viljoen, 12 Damian de Allende, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Jano Vermaak.