CAPE TOWN – The Stormers have one more assignment to complete before things get real, very, very real.
After winning their first two pre-season games, Robbie Fleck’s team will conclude their pre-season preparations against Boland in Wellington this evening (5.45pm kick-off).
Following their Superhero-themed win over the Bulls at Cape Town Stadium last Sunday, Fleck said he hopes the internal competition in the squad will improve their Super Rugby performances after ending 11th overall and fourth in the South African conference last year.
So, with the Super Rugby pressure valve (or expectations from fans) showing no signs of loosening up on SA’s most talent-littered squad, here are three youngsters who will want to show that they deserve more than the odd cameo in the Stormers’ 2019 campaign.
The early years of his young career haven’t been kind to the 2017 World Rugby Under-20 Championship Player of the Tournament. Injuries have limited his on-field time with the Stormers until now, so seeing the 21-year-old fit and fully involved has been a much-anticipated treat for some time.
The big-carrying, hard-hitting No 8 boasts extraordinary awareness and game-reading ability ... how else does he always seem to be at the right place at the right time, especially when it comes to sniffing out the whitewash? He not only won, but owned the No 8 battle against Duane Vermeulen at Cape Town Stadium last weekend, so what he will be able to do with more game time is an exciting prospect.
Powerful defence and a very handy ability to compete for the ball on the ground are certainly two of Coetzee’s most valuable assets. It’s almost a pity that the 22-year-old finds himself in a pot brimming with loose-forward beef, but he hasn’t allowed the pecking order to stop him from delivering the goods when he’s got the chance.
2019 will be his year to build on the performances that made him the topic of many a rugby discussion last season. And it all starts tonight.
If there is one thing this guy sure can do, it’s speed a game up.
Jantjies has made use of his chances in impressive fashion until now, and it will be great to track his growth the more he plays. When it comes to adding the finer touches, being there in support and injecting pace into a game, there is no doubt that he is one for the future.
But he can handle the basics as well.
Great, crisp pass? He’s got that. Ability to arrive to the ball and get it out quickly? He’s your man. Decision-making ability? Not much to be faulted there.
He sure is an exciting scrumhalf ... so just imagine what he can do next to the likes of Damian Willemse or Jean -Luc du Plessis. Just imagine a halfback pairing like that one.
The teams for Boland Stadium are:
15 Craig Barry, 14 JJ Engelbrecht, 13 Ruhan Nel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 SP Marais, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Justin Phillips, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 JD Schickerling, 4 Cobus Wiese, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Chad Solomon, 17 Corne Fourie, 18 Neethling Fouche, 19 Chris van Zyl, 20 Jaco Coetzee, 21 Juarno Augustus, 22 Kobus van Dyk, 23 Herschel Jantjies, 24 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 25 Joshua Stander, 26 Dan du Plessis, 27 Dan Kriel, 28 Nico Leonard.
15 Gavern Skippers, 14 Juandre Joseph, 13 Michaine Fick, 12 Wayne Smith, 11 Valentino Wellman, 10 Monty Dumond, 9 Ricardo Duarttee, 8 Patrick O’Brien, 7 Kenan Cronje, 6 Tapiwa Tsomondo, 5 Johannes Janse van Rensburg, 4 Marlyn Williams (captain), 3 Clinton Theron, 2 Neil Rautenbach, 1 Arnout Malherbe
Replacements: 16 Francois Esterhuyzen, 17 Theunis Nieuwoudt, 18 Clarence van Wyk, 19 Robyn Adams, 20 Deejee Putter, 21. Taine-Randall Booysen, 22. Thurlow Marsh, 23 Vincent Fredericks, 24 Gurshwin Africa, 25 Sherwin Cupido, 26 Garrick Mattheus, 27 Wilneth Engelbrecht, 28 Andries Viljoen, 29 Givan Adams, 30 Shilton van Wyk.@WynonaLouw