Jean’s jolted, Jouba rejects jersey 13

For the third successive week, Jean de Villiers was named to start for the Stormers in the midfield. For the third successive week, De Villiers has pulled out 24 hours before kick-off.

The groin strain suffered in training on the Tuesday before the clash with the Waratahs – the Stormers’ first home encounter – was thought at the time to keep De Villiers out for 10 days at worst.

That meant a definite start against the Brumbies the following weekend. The Highlanders encounter did not enter the debate. And yet, three weeks on, De Villiers still has not deemed himself ready to play.

The popular perception of yet another De Villiers withdrawal would be to accuse coach Kobus van der Merwe of mindgames, or lying even, in an attempt to keep both friend and foe in the dark until the last possible moment.

The accusation is inaccurate. Keo.co.za has learnt that De Villiers made the decision to pull out of the fixture, despite Dr Ryan Kohler promising the Stormers coaching staff earlier in the week that De Villiers would be available.

Blaming the player would also be foolhardy. Running at full tilt earlier today, De Villiers admitted he could still feel the injury. With the monstrous schedule ahead of him, it is the correct decision to remain sidelined.

De Villiers’ withdrawal meant that Marius Joubert was offered jersey 13 in his return to competitive rugby. The offer was refused. Joubert was adamant that his first game back should be from the bench as he is not confident in his ability to play an entire 80 minutes.

Yes muppits, that means that the Gas Man Gus Theron starts as outside centre for the third consecutive week. Captain De Wet Barry shifts to 12 and former Griquas and Cats winger Chumani Booi will make his competitive debut for the Cape side on the wing.

REWORKED STORMERS SIDE TO PLAY THE HIGHLANDERS

15. Werner Greeff
14. Rayno Benjamin
13. Gus Theron
12. De Wet Barry (c)
11. Chumani Booi
10. Peter Grant
9. Bolla Conradie
8. Adri Badenhorst
7. Schalk Burger
6. Luke Watson
5. Henk Eksteen
4. Ross Skeate
3. Eddie Andrews
2. Hanyani Shimange
1. JD Moller

Subs

16. Schalk Brits
17. Neil Fullard
18. Gerrie Britz
19. Justin Melck
20. Neil de Kock
21. Naas Olivier
22. Marius Joubert