Rassie Erasmus has retained the unconventional backline combination that devastated the Lions two weeks ago.
Injuries to Nick Koster and Tonderai Chavhanga forced a drastic reshuffle to the Stormers’ back division, a reshuffle that proved highly effective against the limp Lions. Gcobani Bobo moved to wing with Jean de Villiers shifting to outside centre. Peter Grant came off the bench to play 12 in that fixture, and in Christchurch the Springbok flyhalf will start at centre against the Crusaders.
‘Injuries played a big part in our decision to pick this team, but we also considered how well these guys did against the Lions,’ Erasmus told keo.co.za. ‘Bobes did a good job on the wing and has played there before and with Peter at centre it gives us a lot of options.
‘We’ve brought Connie [Jantjes] onto the bench and will give him game time in the second half.’
Erasmus has been forced to start AJ Venter in the second row given Andries Bekker’s tour-ending injury. Luke Watson is also back at No 8 as the Stormers continue with their loose-forward rotation policy.
Wicus Blaauw is retained at loosehead despite the fitness of JD Moller. In his debut season, Blaauw has enjoyed a fine start and Erasmus confirmed Moller will have to front in order to displace the 22-year-old.
‘It’s lovely to have guy like JD back in the mix, but Wicus has been playing some great rugby. He deserves to keep his spot and it’s up to JD to fight and win it back.’
Tiaan Liebenberg, flown in as a late replacement for Deon Fourie, will play off the bench alongside a fit-again Jantjes. Centre Dylan des Fountain and Hilton Lobberts will make a rare appearance from the wood.
Stormers - Percy Montgomery, Gcobani Bobo, Jean de Villiers (c), Peter Grant, Sireli Naqelevuki, Willem de Waal, Ricky Januarie, Luke Watson, Duane Vermeulen, Schalk Burger, AJ Venter, Adriaan Fondse, Brian Mujati, Schalk Brits, Wicus Blaauw.
Subs: Tiaan Liebenberg, JD Moller, Hilton Lobberts, Francois Louw, Dewaldt Duvenhage, Dylan des Fountain, Conrad Jantjes.
By Jon Cardinelli