Matter of pride for Stormers

Stormers face another huge test of character

The Stormers face another huge test of character today when they host the Lions in a tough Super Rugby derby match at Newlands.

Sikhumbuzo Notshe will play his 50th game for the Stormers, while they will have to do without the services of Springbok lock Pieter-Steph du Toit, who is ill.

The Capetonians suffered a surprise defeat to the Sunwolves last Saturday in the scorching heat of Hong Kong and they will be determined to restore some pride and regain their form in front of the passionate Cape rugby faithful.

The fact that this match is played just a few hours before the Springbok squad announcement adds an extra bite to this local derby.

Lions head coach Swys de Bruin said his side had to be more accurate in their execution in Cape Town. “The derby will bring out the best in the Stormers, who will be looking for a good performance in front of their big support.”

Stormers head coach Robbie Fleck said his players were intent on delivering a complete performance at Newlands.

“It is great to be back at Newlands this weekend for what should be another big game.

“Our focus is to be as accurate as possible and execute our plans so that we are able to impose ourselves.”

The Bulls are home to the visiting Brumbies in the early afternoon fixture (3.05pm) at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria and John Mitchell’s side will also be looking to bounce back following their loss to the Jaguares last weekend.

Bulls centre and skipper Burger Odendaal is back after missing last week’s trip to Argentina through injury, which sees Springbok Handré Pollard resuming his flyhalf duties.
Among the forwards, Nic de Jager is selected at flank and Jaco Visagie swaps jerseys with hooker Adriaan Strauss.

After a slow start in matches between the sides, where the Lions won just one of the first 13 encounters against the Stormers (with one draw), the men from Johannesburg have now won their last three games on the trot against their Capetonian counterparts.

Their defeat by the Chiefs in round 13 snapped a five-game home winning streak for the Stormers, who will now be keen to avoid consecutive home defeats for the first time since 2011.

Notshe’s inclusion at No 8 for the Stormers comes as part of a new loose forward combination, with captain Siya Kolisi back in the starting team and Kobus van Dyk shifting to blindside flank.

Meanwhile, Jan de Klerk comes in at lock for Du Toit. They also welcome back Springbok hooker Bongi Mbonambi and prop Steven Kitshoff, both on the bench.

Raymond Rhule is picked on the left wing in place of Seabelo Senatla, who has returned to the Springbok Sevens squad.

The Lions have also made several changes.

Prop Jacques van Rooyen and flank Marnus Schoeman return to the starting team, with Kwagga Smith moving from flank to No 8.

Aphiwe Dyantyi shifts from centre back to wing and Harold Vorster resumes his midfield partnership with Rohan Janse van Rensburg, while Ruan Combrinck is back at right wing.

Bulls head coach John Mitchell said they have not given up hope of reaching the playoffs. “We have to keep working and fighting. We are growing, but have also let ourselves down. The Brumbies have perhaps been unlucky this year; they have good individuals who will test you across the field.”