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Feet up for Stormers' Bok trio

Wed, 20 Nov 2013 08:12
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We will not be signing Cooper Vuna
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The Stormers' Bok trio of Jean de Villiers, Eben Etzebeth and Duane Vermuelen will only be required to join pre-season training in January.

The Cape franchise start their preparations for the 2014 Super Rugby season next week, with Springbok tourists Frans Malherbe, Scarra Ntubeni, Siya Kolisi, Louis Schreuder and Gio Aplon joining a week later.

Bok skipper De Villiers, and forwards Etzebeth and Vermeulen have all endured a very taxing year, playing in just about every match for both the Stormers and the Boks, so they will be given a chance to finally put their feet up in December.

Stormers coach Allister Coetzee confirmed: "Springbok touring squad members like Frans Malherbe, Scarra Ntubeni, Siya Kolisi, Louis Schreuder and Gio Aplon will miss the first week of pre-season training, but will join us from week two onwards, but others like Eben Etzebeth, Duane Vermeulen and Jean de Villiers will rejoin us in January only - along with (Argentine lock) Manuel Carizza."

When asked about the rest of his squad, and any other potential new faces, Coetzee added: "We could still make one or two final signings which we hope to finalise in the next few weeks.

"We are looking for a wing to replace Bryan Habana and Gerhard van den Heever, and are surveying all our options, but I can say that we will not be signing Cooper Vuna.

"As we always do, we will announce any signings we make once they have been confirmed by both parties," he explained.

The Stormers will play three friendlies - against the Bulls, the Southern Kings and Boland - in February 2014 as part of their preparations.

All three matches will be played away from home, in Polokwane (v Bulls) and Port Elizabeth (v Kings), with the venue for the third friendly, against Boland, yet to be confirmed. Boland, as the hosts, will decide on the kick-off time and venue at a later stage.

Coetzee commented: "The three friendlies will test us - all in a different way - and allow us to work on a few things ahead of our first Super Rugby game (against the Lions) on Saturday, February 22.

"Three fixtures are more than enough and will give us plenty of time to test things in a game situation and we're more than happy to move straight from our friendlies into our first competitive match of the 2014 season."

The pre-season squad will have a break over the festive season, their last day of training will be on Friday, December 20, before they reconvene on Tuesday, January 7, 2014. A squad of players will also travel to Hermanus later in January for the annual Stormers pre-season camp.

"We will announce our initial pre-season training squad later this week, but we will, as always, invite a few younger players - from this year's successful Under-21 group and next year's WP Rugby Institute intake - to join our (pre-season) preparations," Coetzee explained further.

Stormers' pre-season fixtures:

Saturday, February 1:

Bulls v Stormers, Peter Mokaba Stadium (Polokwane)

Friday, February 7:
Southern Kings v Stormers, Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium (Port Elizabeth)

Saturday, February 15:
Boland v Stormers, venue and kick-off time TBC

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