Etzebeth reaches his Stormers half-ton
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENTL Springbok Eben Etzebeth will play his 50th Super Rugby game for the Stormers when they face the Highlanders in Dunedin on Friday.
The imposing 25-year-old lock, who made his Super Rugby debut in 2012, has been named Stormers vice-captain for the clash, with regular skipper Siya Kolisi returning after being rested last week.
Kolisi will start at openside flank, with Nizaam Carr shifting to No.8 and Pieter-Steph du Toit continuing on the blindside - whilst Sikhumbuzo Notshe and Kobus van Dyk will provide loose forward cover.
There are a number of changes to the tight five.
Jan de Klerk is getting a chance to partner Etzebeth in the second row, while props Oliver Kebble and Frans Malherbe are starting - with JC Janse van Rensburg and Wilco Louw are on the replacements bench.
In the backline scrumhalf Jano Vermaak returns to the starting line-up to partner flyhalf Robert du Preez, with Dewaldt Duvenage on the replacements bench.
The shoulder injury to midfielder Dan du Plessis sees Dan Kriel start at inside centre, with the experienced former Highlander Shaun Treeby set to province an impact in the second half.
Fullback Sarel Marais returns from a groin niggle which kept him out of action last week, which means that Dillyn Leyds moves back to the left wing with Bjorn Basson amongst the replacements.
Stormers coach Robbie Fleck said that his team is determined to rise to the occasion in Dunedin.
"We have worked hard as a group to ensure that we bring the necessary intensity against the Highlanders this weekend," Fleck said.
"This is a great opportunity for us to show what we are capable of in a tough environment against quality opposition, so everyone is looking forward to the challenge," he said.
Stormers: 15 Sarel Marais, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 EW Viljoen, 12 Dan Kriel, 11 Dillyn Leyds, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Jan de Klerk, 4 Eben Etzebeth (vice-captain), 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Oliver Kebble.
Replacements: 16 Ramone Samuels, 17 JC Janse van Rensburg, 18 Wilco Louw, 19 Kobus van Dyk, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Dewaldt Duvenage, 22 Shaun Treeby (Stormers debut), 23 Bjorn Basson.
Date: Friday, April 28
Venue: Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin
Kick-off: 19.35 (09.35 SA time; 07.35 GMT)
Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand), Mike Fraser (New Zealand)
TMO: Aaron Paterson (New Zealand)