Not content with axing skipper De Wet Barry, Stormers coach Kobus van der Merwe has given Joe Pietersen the chop, asking the out-of-form Tonderai Chavhanga to play in the unfamiliar position of fullback against the Chiefs.
Keo.co.za has learnt that Van der Merwe’s wrath following yet another inept performance against the Blues was directed further than Barry and fellow yellow card offender Hanyani Shimange.
Pietersen, who shone on attack against the Force and mixed some very good things with a very elementary errors against the Blues, has been dropped.
Chavhanga, after three shaky performances on the wing, has now been asked to play fullback. The last time a Stormers winger was moved out of position was almost exactly a year ago when Breyton Paulse played fullback.
The venue: Loftus. The result: 14-75.
Chavhanga has experience at fullback, but has not played in the position for two seasons. Low on confidence, and perhaps expecting an axing following three disappointing displays, asking him to play fullback is a huge risk.
Chavhanga’s relocation means that Jongi Nokwe and Rayno Benjamin, the first-choice wingers from the beginning of the season, will be recalled.
Nokwe’s journey this year has been an interesting one. From selection as first choice 11, to a brilliant solo score against the Waratahs, to a defensive nightmare against the Highlanders, to the Vodacom Cup, to the touring squad and now back in the team. It is a journey that will hardly benefit another player whose career has been stagnated by coaching stuff ups.
The concerns regarding Nokwe and Benjamin’s understanding of the Stormers’ defensive pattern are seemingly forgotten, or ignored. Whether the duo now will be able to grasp the complexities of the system that has yet to be correctly implemented in nine weeks is about as likely as a South African side performing for 80 minutes.
The Chiefs sport one of the most dangerous backlines in the competition, and with express outside backs, will relish the Stormers latest selection decisions.
It is the sixth back three combination the Cape side has fielded this season. The sixth. Any coach will stress the importance in continuity and of understanding developing between a back three, and yet again, the Stormers will field a trio yet to appear in the same side together.
Other changes are as expected. Marius Joubert moves to the midfield to partner Jean de Villiers, Schalk Brits replaces Shimange, and Ross Skeate and Joe van Niekerk shore up the pack in place of Andries Bekker and Adri Badenhorst.
Luke Watson has made a remarkable recovery from the facial injuries that forced him from the field after 10 minutes against the Blues, and retains jersey 6.
STORMERS SIDE TO PLAY THE CHIEFS (highly probable)
15. Tonderai Chavhanga
14. Rayno Benjamin
13. Marius Joubert
12. Jean de Villiers
11. Jongi Nokwe
10. Naas Olivier
9. Bolla Conradie
8. Joe van Niekerk
7. Schalk Burger
6. Luke Watson
5. Ross Skeate
4. Gerrie Britz
3. Eddie Andrews
2. Schalk Brits (c)
1. JD Moller
By Chris Hewitt