Percy to battle Blues

An injury to Conrad Jantjes will allow Springbok legend Percy Montgomery a rare opportunity to start against the Blues.

Jantjes is struggling with a calf niggle and is unlikely to recover for Saturday’s encounter with the Blues. Montgomery will start for the first time since leaving the Stormers and South Africa for Wales in 2002. While he will play an important role at the back, Peter Grant will continue as the Stormers’ premier place-kicker.

“We’ll give Connie until Friday to recover, but at the same time I’m very excited to see Percy start this weekend,” Erasmus told keo.co.za. “I think teams that have players who were involved in the November tours have the same sort of problem, a lot of those players are still struggling with injuries.

“Connie didn’t play in the pre-season and is not quite up to full match fitness. It’s great to have a player of Percy’s class and experience to slot in.”

Luke Watson is retained at No 8 while Erasmus has also favoured Duane Vermeulen at blindside over Francois Louw yet again. The Stormers coach maintains all four loose forwards will play crucial roles in the 2009 campaign but for now it’s about retaining a winning unit.

“Francois is pushing for a starting place, but we don’t really want to rotate when we’re winning,” he said. “He will get his chance.”

The Blues lost 59-26 to the Bulls last week, but will welcome back several All Blacks to their starting line-up this Saturday. Erasmus admitted the Stormers pack will need to lift their intensity and the all-round defence will need to sharpen.

“The Bulls vs Reds game wasn’t a good indicator of what to expect last week, and I’d say the same about the Bulls vs Blues game. They’ll have guys like Jerome Kaino, Tony Woodcock and Joe Rokocoko back and that could make all the difference.”

Former Cheetahs pivot Willem de Waal is included on the bench for the first time this season after overcoming a hand injury. De Waal will earn his first Stormers cap if he takes the field this Saturday.

Stormers – Percy Montgomery, Tonderai Chavhanga, Gcobani Bobo, Jean de Villiers (c), Sireli Naqelevuki, Peter Grant, Ricky Januarie, Luke Watson, Duane Vermeulen, Schalk Burger, Andries Bekker, Adriaan Fondse, Brian Mujati, Schalk Brits, JD Moller.
Subs: Deon Fourie, Wicus Blaauw, AJ Venter, Francois Louw, Bolla Conradie, Nick Koster, Willem de Waal.

By Jon Cardinelli