Willem de Waal’s superior kicking game has secured him a start against the Bulls this Saturday.
De Waal replaces Peter Grant at flyhalf while Nick Koster comes in for Sireli Naqelevuki on the wing.
“I think everyone expected it,” Rassie Erasmus told keo.co.za. “We know he has a good kicking game and is well-equipped to handle the challenge that awaits at Loftus.
“It is his first game this season so I’m sure Peter Grant will still be needed. The altitude will also take its toll.”
Erasmus has also picked AJ Venter in place of Adriaan Fondse for what should be an intense forward battle. Together with Andries Bekker, the Stormers second-row pair will battle Springbok locks Bakkies Botha and Danie Rossouw, not to mention Victor Matfield in the second half.
“AJ’s been to Loftus more than I have,” said Erasmus. “His experience will be handy in such a big game.I’m not saying Fondsie is not up to it but it’s nice to have two players in a similar mould.
“We haven’t been winning so that’s why we haven’t rotated many players. But if we don’t rotate now we might get to the stage where we’ve played seven games and these other guys haven’t had any game time.”
Schalk Burger is struggling with a calf injury but will be given until Friday to prove his fitness. Francois Louw will start at No 6 if Burger drops out with UCT’s Tiger Bax coming onto the bench.
“Tiger’s been training with us for awhile now and I’m sure that if given the chance he won’t let us down. Tiger will come in and cover for Percy Montgomery if Schalk sits out, as we are confident we have enough loose forward cover in Schalk Brits and Nick Koster.”
Brian Mujati has overcome his ailment but JD Moller’s shoulder injury has ruled him out of this match. Wicus Blaauw will start in the front row as a result.
“We will miss JD but Wicus has been knocking on the door for a long time,” said Erasmus. “I’m sure he’ll be up for the challenge.”
Dewaldt Duvenhage also replaces Bolla Conradie as cover for Ricky Januarie at scrumhalf.
Stormers – Percy Montgomery, Tonderai Chavhanga, Gcobani Bobo, Jean de Villiers (c), Nick Koster, Willem de Waal, Ricky Januarie, Luke Watson, Duane Vermeulen, Schalk Burger, Andries Bekker, AJ Venter, Brian Mujati, Schalk Brits, Wicus Blaauw.
Subs: Deon Fourie, Schalk Ferreira, Adriaan Fondse, Francois Louw, Dewaldt Duvenhage, Peter Grant, Sireli Naqelevuki.
By Jon Cardinelli