Storm warning for Spears

Tonderai Chavhanga should return to the Stormers starting line-up for their match against the Spears in Wellington on Saturday.

Stormers coach Kobus van der Merwe is expected to make a number of changes to the side that lost to the Bulls at Newlands, including the selection of Chavhanga on the left wing.

“Tonderai pulled the same quad muscle that’s been troubling him for the last four months,” he said. “He took part in Friday’s captain’s run, but in the end we decided not to risk him [against the Bulls].”

While disappointed to concede 44 points at home, Van der Merwe refused to read too much into the result.

“We could change our entire starting XV [by bringing in our top players], while the Bulls would probably only make a couple of changes to the team that played us,” said Van der Merwe. “The Bulls also played the Cats last weekend, while this was our first warm-up game of the season. It was a good chance for us to test our depth against the best team in the country.”

Van der Merwe singled out a handful of his players, who had advanced their cause ahead of the Super 14.

“I was very impressed by [No 8] David Hendricks,” he said. “He carried the ball up well and was strong on defence. [Flank] Justin Melck also had a very good game. Among the backs, Johan Pietersen [playing on the left wing in place of Chavhanga] did well, as did Naas Olivier at flyhalf. Naas’s goal kicking was superb, but he did show a bit of inexperience at times – like when he put a kick-off into touch just after we’d scored a try. The Bulls then scored from that scrum [on the halfway line]. But he will grow as a player with experience.”

Another Stormer who put his hand up for selection against the Cats on 11 February was scrumhalf Paul Delport, who set up the first try of the game. However, the SA U21 captain did make a crucial mistake when his clearance kick was charged down behind the home side’s tryline.

“Paulie had a great game – his cover defence was outstanding,” said Van der Merwe, before commenting on Delport’s blooper. “He probably should have just dotted the ball down behind the tryline and given the Bulls a 5m scrum. That would have allowed our defence to reorganise itself.”