Rynhardt Elstadt will start on the blindside flank as coach Allister Coetzee has picked a big, physical pack for Saturday’s derby with the Bulls.
Elstadt began his career as a loose forward, but has since been converted into a powerful lock. He recently returned from injury and played two matches at lock for Western Province in the Vodacom Cup, but will be used as a flank when he makes his first appearance of the season for the Stormers this weekend.
His selection at No 7 sees Duane Vermeulen moving to No 8 and Nick Koster dropping to the bench. Coetzee explained that the back row was picked with the opposition in mind.
‘The reason we’ve made that selection is because we want to get parity up front,’ he said. ‘We saw what the Bulls did to a Wallaby-studded pack last week – they absolutely demolished them. We have to be prepared for that physical assault.
‘Rynhardt’s played two games so he is match ready, and is no stranger to the flank position. He played there for the WP U21s and the SA U20s. He will give us something extra as a ball-carrier and another good lineout option.
‘All in all it means we go into this game with a big pack, and that’s what you need against the Bulls.’
Eben Etzebeth has been retained at No 4 after an impressive start to his debut season. Coetzee said that the return of Elstadt had forced the coaches to make some tough decisions, but it was felt that while Elstadt needed to be accommodated, Etzebeth deserved to continue as the team’s enforcer.
‘We will adopt a horses for course approach from hereon in,’ Coetzee said.
Meanwhile, the Stormers have received some bad news on the injury front. Reserve flyhalf Gary van Aswegen has seriously injured his ankle and will be out for three to four weeks. This means that he will not tour Australasia with the team.
The touring group of 26 players will be announced on Saturday.
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 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Rynhardt Elstadt, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Andries Bekker, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Tiaan Liebenberg, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Subs: 16 Deon Fourie, 17 Frans Malherbe, 18 De Kock Steenkamp, 19 Nick Koster, 20 Louis Schreuder, 21 Burton Francis, 22 Gerhard van den Heever.
By Jon Cardinelli