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Bekker braced for Bloem century

Wed, 03 Apr 2013 10:44
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It's never easy in Bloemfontein
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Andries Bekker will become the first Stormers player to reach 100 Super Rugby games when he runs out against the high-flying Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Saturday.

The in-form lock has really showed why he should be Heyneke Meyer's first choice in the No. 5 jersey after a string of great performances.

Although the performance last weekend was not as strong from the entire side, Bekker has been a shining light all over the park for the Stormers this campaign.

Coach Allister Coetzee has made five changes to the Stormers team that lost a tightly contested affair to the Crusaders in Cape Town last weekend.

Of the five changes, one is positional, and two are injury-enforced after last week's 14-19 defeat; with Steven Kitshoff, Michael Rhodes, Nic Groom and Jaco Taute all coming into the starting XV.

Kitshoff is back from his one-game suspension, whilst Rhodes and Taute replace Rynhardt Elstadt (shoulder) and Gerhard van den Heever (knee), respectively. Taute will line up at fullback, with Joe Pietersen shifting to the right-wing.

Rhodes will make his Stormers debut in the No.7 jersey, having played for the Western Province Vodacom Cup team in recent weeks.

Two other members of the Western Province Vodacom Cup team have also been elevated to the Stormers squad ahead of Saturday, with lock Gerbrandt Grobler (on debut) and flyhalf Gary van Aswegen starting from the bench.

Looking ahead to the weekend, Stormers boss Coetzee said: "We've seen how well the Crusaders did their homework and we know that we can expect the same from the Cheetahs.

"This week we'll have to show improvement in all facets of the game if we want to do well against the Cheetahs. It's never easy in Bloemfontein, it's going to be a tough [South African] derby... but we need to focus on our game."

Stormers: 15 Jaco Taute, 14 Joe Pietersen, 13 Juan De Jongh, 12 Jean De Villiers (captain), 11 Gio Aplon, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Michael Rhodes, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Andries Bekker, 4 De Kock Steenkamp, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Deon Fourie, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Pat Cilliers, 18 Gerbrandt Grobler, 19 Nizaam Carr, 20 Louis Schreuder, 21 Gary Van Aswegen, 22 Damian De Allende.

Date: Saturday, 6 April
Venue: Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein
Kick-off: 17.05 (15.05 GMT)
Referee: Stuart Berry (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Sindile Mayende (South Africa), Francois de Bruin (South Africa)
TMO: Gerrie Coetzee (South Africa)

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