Flyhalf Peter Grant will start his first match of the season when the Stormers host the Blues at Newlands this Friday.
Gary van Aswegen started at No 10 in the Stormers’ first two matches against the Hurricanes and Sharks. While the Cape side won both matches, Van Aswegen struggled to produce a dominant showing and the backline as a collective failed to fire on attack.
While the Stormers still hope that the 22-year-old Van Aswegen will develop into a good flyhalf option, it’s clear Grant is now their main man.
‘Peter is a Springbok and has a lot of experience,’ coach Allister Coetzee said of Grant’s selection. ‘It’s a very good Blues side that we’re up against, and so there’s going to be a lot of pressure in that [flyhalf] channel. Peter has shown it time and again that he can cope with that kind of pressure.’
Grant returned from Japan five days before that Sharks match and was rushed straight into the match 22. He came off the bench in the second half to not only settle the backline but also nail a touchline penalty to win the game.
Despite Grant’s heroics, he may not be utilised as the Stormers’ primary goal-kicker. Fullback Joe Pietersen missed four attempts at goal in that Sharks match, but could still be entrusted with responsibilities for the coming matches.
‘To be honest, I don’t have a definitive answer to that question,’ Coetzee told keo.co.za. ‘It is something that will be decided at the captain’s run on Thursday.’
Coetzee confirmed that lock Rynhardt Elstadt and prop Deon Carstens, who have both been sidelined with injury, will return to action in the Vodacom Cup this weekend. Depending on how they fare, they could be available for the Stormers’ next clash against the Lions.
Meanwhile, team captain Schalk Burger has had the plaster removed from his injured knee and will begin his rehabilitation next week. It was initially said that Burger would be back for the second tour match against the Crusaders, and on Tuesday Coetzee confirmed that things are on track regarding Burger’s return to the playing field.
Stormers – 15 Joe Pietersen, 14 Gio Aplon, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Jean de Villiers (c), 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Peter Grant, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Nick Koster, 7 Duane Vermeulen, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Andries Bekker, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Tiaan Liebenberg, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Subs: 16 Skara Ntubeni, 17 Frans Malherbe, 18 De Kock Steenkamp, 19 Nizaam Carr, 20 Louis Schrueder, 21 Gary van Aswegen, 22 Gerhard van den Heever.
By Jon Cardinelli