Willemse at pivot for Stormers
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: South Africa Under-20 star Damian Willemse will don the Stormers' number 10 jumper in their Super Rugby encounter with the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
The 19-year-old flyhalf Damian Willemse makes his first Stormers start having recently returned from duty at the World Rugby U20 Championships with the Junior Springboks and will link up with the experienced scrumhalf Jano Vermaak.
In midfield Kiwi Shaun Treeby partners with Juan de Jongh, with EW Viljoen playing off the replacements bench for the first time this season.
The back three of Dillyn Leyds, Cheslin Kolbe and Sarel Marais will start the game, while Sevens star Seabelo Senatla will inject some pace from the bench.
In the forwards, the side will take teh field without two influential Springboks Siya Kolisi and Eben Etzebeth.
Regular skipper Kolisi and vice-captain Etzebeth, who were part of the recent Springboks side which recorded an 3-0 series whitewash against France, are being rested.
The captain's responsibility has been handed to tighthead prop Frans Malherbe while wing Leyds has been named vice-captain for the South African derby on Saturday at the Free State Stadium.
Loosehead prop JC Janse van Rensburg returns from injury to take his place in the front row alongside Malherbe and hooker Ramone Samuels, who makes his first start of the season.
Bongi Mbonambi and Wilco Louw will provide front row cover off the replacements bench, along with Steven Kitshoff who will make his first appearance for the Stormers since 2015 if called upon.
In the second row Chris van Zyl takes Etzebeth’s place next to Pieter-Steph du Toit, with JD Schickerling as back-up amongst the replacements.
Rynhardt Elstadt also returns from injury to link up with Kobus van Dyk and Nizaam Carr in the loose trio, while Sikhumbuzo Notshe is set to provide impact as a replacement.
Stormers Head Coach Robbie Fleck said that his team will have to hit the ground running after the June break in what will be a typically tough derby in Bloemfontein.
"The Cheetahs are always a tough prospect on their home turf, so we will have to be sharp if we are to come away with the win we are looking for.
"The players have trained well this week and we are excited to see what they are able to produce in Bloemfontein," he said.
Stormers: 15 Sarel Marais, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Shaun Treeby, 11 Dillyn Leyds, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Kobus van Dyk, 6 Rynardt Elstadt, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Chris van Zyl, 3 Frans Malherbe (captain), 2 Ramone Samuels, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg.
Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Wilco Louw, 19 John Dave Schickerling, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Justin Phillips, 22 EW Viljoen, 23 Seabelo Senatla.
Date: Saturday, July 1
Venue: Free State stadium, Bloemfontein
Kick-off: 15.05 (13.05 GMT)
Referee: Jaco van Heerden
Assistant referees: AJ Jacobs (South Africa), Cwengile Jadezweni (South Africa)
TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)