Van Zyl leads Stormers in crucial match
Cape side need maximum points against Sun wolves to boost playoff hopes
Lock Chris van Zyl will formally captain the Stormers for the first time when the struggling Cape side take on the Sun wolves in Hong Kong tomorrow.
Van Zyl‚ who led Western Province to the Currie Cup title last year, has captained the Super Rugby side during games when regular skipper Siya Kolisi has been withdrawn.
Cobus Wiese will start in place of Kolisi. He is on the bench for this one as coach Robbie Fleck juggled his team for a match they simply have to take a maximum five points from to have any chance of making the playoffs.
Fleck has included Blitzbok star Seabelo Senatla on the wing‚ a sign that the Stormers need a proven finisher after failing to capitalise on the many chances they have created this season.
Flyhalf Jean-Luc du Plessis makes his first start of the campaign with Damian Willemse on Junior Springbok duty while No 8 Nizaam Carr returns with Sikhumbuzo Notshe dropping to the bench.
Notshe’s mobility and high workrate in the final quarter could be telling.
Loosehead Steven Kitshoff is rested as a precaution due to a minor injury‚ opening the way for JC Janse van Rensburg to make a rare start, with young prop Carlu Sadie moving on to the bench.
The Sun wolves have always been a tough opponent for the Stormers at home‚ having secured a draw in Singapore in 2016 while pushing the Stormers hard in the return match last year.
The Japanese franchise are also coming off their first win of the season‚ an impressive 63-28 bludgeoning of the Reds last week. That result and performance would have boosted their confidence.
“I don’t know how winning will have affected them but that is not something for us to think about. They have shown what they are capable of and we must just ensure we go out and deliver our best performance‚” Fleck said.
The Stormers’ first home loss of the season in their sixth outing at Newlands against the Chiefs last week‚ has left their post-season ambitions in intensive care.
But Fleck still believes that their destiny is in their control.
“This game has become of critical importance. Losing to the Chiefs was a big setback for us‚ but we are still alive in the race for conference honours.
“We know we won’t be though if we lose again and we have to throw everything into winning this weekend.”
Stormers: 15 SP Marais‚ 14 Seabelo Senatla‚ 13 JJ Engelbrecht‚ 12 Damian de Allende‚ 11 Dillyn Leyds‚ 10 Jean-Luc du Plessis‚ 9 Dewaldt Duvenage‚ 8 Nizaam Carr‚ 7 Cobus Wiese‚ 6 Kobus van Dyk‚ 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit‚ 4 Chris van Zyl (captain)‚ 3 Wilco Louw‚ 2 Ramone Samuels‚ 1 JC Janse van Rensburg.
Replacements: 16 Scarra Ntubeni‚ 17 Carlu Sadie‚ 18 Frans Malherbe‚ 19 Jan de Klerk‚ 20 Siya Kolisi‚ 21 Sikhumbuzo Notshe‚ 22 Paul de Wet‚ 23 EW Viljoen. –Times LIVE