Stormers to rely on 'local knowledge' against Highlanders

Mon, 24 Apr 2017 11:09

SUPER RUGBY SPOTLIGHT: Shaun Treeby returns 'home' this week and will play a key role for the Stormers against his former team, the Highlanders.

The 28-year-old midfielder - a regular for the Highlanders, where he amassed 50 Super Rugby caps since 2011 - will make his Stormers debut for the Stormers against the Highlanders on Friday.

Stormers coach Robbie Fleck, speaking to the media ahead of his team's crucial Round 10 encounter with the South Island franchise, said Treeby's "local knowledge" will be invaluable.

The Stormers, after back-to-back defeats against the Lions and Crusaders, could run the risk of letting the chasing pack catch up with them in the Africa One conference - should they not address their losing streak.

That is why winning in the 'Lunchbox' in Dunedin is so important.

Fullback Sarel Marais has recovered from a groin strain and available for selection this week, while captain Siya Kolisi also available - having arrived in New Zealand only last Friday, the day before the game against the Crusaders.

Kolisi was rested as part of the agreement with Springbok coach Allister Coetzee.

The selection of Treeby is likely to be headlined in the Dunedin media this week.

"There are a lot of young players who have never toured New Zealand and this is an opportunity to play against some of the best players in the world," Fleck said, when asked about Treeby's selection.

"To have a guy like Shaun Treeby, who is a local and have played against these guys on a regular basis, will be valuable.

"Whether he plays from the bench or [is named in] the starting line-up, we will make that decision later in the week.

"He has been great so far in the group and he has been helping a lot.

"We are all quite excited to see how he goes."

Treeby came up through age group tanks for the Wellington Lions in New Zealand's domestic provincial competition and made his full provincial debut in 2009.

Treeby signed with the Highlanders for the 2011 Super Rugby season, following his former Wellington coach Jamie Joseph south.

He quickly established himself as a key member of the squad, starting each of the team's first eight games and forming an excellent partnership with Kendrick Lynn, before suffering a knee injury.

He returned went on to play another 40-odd Super Rugby games for the Highlanders in the next four years.

He signed with the Stormers, on a four-month contract, last month.

Fleck described the Highlanders as a "typical Kiwi side", but a little bit different from the Crusaders.

"We will expect the Highlanders to also up the tempo, as the Crusaders did," the Stormers coach said of their 24-57 loss to the seven-time champion Crusaders.

"They are a very dangerous side, especially when they play in Dunedin.

"We haven't face the kind of line-speed that the Crusaders brought and that is something we will face against the Highlanders and Hurricanes."

By Jan de Koning

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