Keo.co.za has learnt that Kobus van der Merwe will name his strongest possible side to face the Spears in Wellington on Saturday, the final Super 14 warm-up scheduled for the Cape side.
After his 2nd XV contrasted fight and effective forward play in the first half to rank shambles in the second against the Bully Boys, Van der Merwe will be hoping for a far more convincing display from his front-line troops.
With the possible exceptions of Gerrie Britz and Schalk Brits, and injury-casualties Joe van Niekerk, Marius Joubert and De Wet Barry, Van der Merwe cannot play a stronger hand.
The continued absence of captain Barry means Boland centre Piet van Zyl has the opportunity to atone for a shocking display against the Bulls. He’ll wear 13 again, although the quality inside him will differ slightly: Instead of Gus Theron, he’ll have Jean de Villiers as his midfield partner.
Interesting selections concern the back-row, scrumhalf and the wing. After a pre-season that has seen him tip the scales at 104kg, whilst retaining the ability to bench 165kg and run the 40m in 4.95 seconds, Luke Watson has bashed down the door for another opportunity as first choice 6.
Watson’s resurgence in the gym and training grounds after a frustrating Currie Cup means Schalk Burger is shifted to blindside, and unlike Gert Smal last year, Van der Merwe and Technical Director Gary Gold will not play them left and right.
Thus Burger is faced with an entirely different role to the one he is accustomed with at the Boks. Regarded by Jake White as a specialist fetcher, ball carrying will now become a primary concern, and he will provide an option at the back of the line-out.
Bolla Conradie gets the nod at scrumhalf over Neil de Kock, whilst Boland flyer Rayno Benjamin has the literal inside track on Tonderai Chavhanga for jersey 14.
Stormers side to play the Spears on Saturday
15. Werner Greeff
14. Rayno Benjamin
13. Piet van Zyl
12. Jean de Villiers
11. Jongi Nokwe
10. Peter Grant
9. Bolla Conradie
8. Adri Badenhorst
7. Schalk Burger (c)
6. Luke Watson
5. Andries Bekker
4. Ross Skeate
3. Eddie Andrews
2. Hanyani Shimange
1. JD Moller