Coetzee wields heavy Stormers axe
Coetzee wields heavy Stormers axeSHARE
Stormers coach Allister Coetzee made seven changes to the team for their final Super Rugby match Down Under – against the Rebels in Melbourne on Friday.
Only two of the changes are injury-enforced – with Rynhardt Elstadt and Duane Vermeulen out with knee injuries.
Those tour-ending injuries have resulted in some positional switches up front.
In one of those changes, regular hooker Deon Fourie will move from the front row to the back row (No.6), with Siya Kolisi shifting to the other side of the scrum and the exciting Nizaam Carr packing down at No.8.
With Fourie on the flank, Currie Cup-winning hooker Scarra Ntubeni will make his first-ever Super Rugby start in the No.2 shirt.
In a final change in the front row, Pat Cilliers will start at tighthead prop in place of Frans Malherbe, who reverts to the bench this week.
The move has been described as "rotation".
There is also a change at halfback for the Stormers – with Elton Jantjies (flyhalf) and Louis Schreuder (scrumhalf) starting a game together for the first time.
Flyhalf Gary van Aswegen, who has started the past four games in the No.10 jersey, drops to the bench this week – where he is joined by Nic Groom, who will be looking to make his first appearance of the tour.
Scrumhalf Dewaldt Duvenage has been dropped from the matchday 22 altogether this week.
Groom, in turn, will be joined on the bench by lock Gerbrandt Grobler, who flew to Australia this week as injury cover, and hooker Martin Bezuidenhout.
Utility forward Don Armand and wing Gerhard van den Heever – who sat on the bench last week – make up the remainder of the replacements.
The Stormers coach, Coetzee, said despite all the changes this is an "exciting" team.
"We're determined to finish the tour on a high," Coetzee said, adding: "We've trained well this week and we're looking forward to Friday's match."
The Stormers are still in Sydney and will transfer to Melbourne on Thursday ahead of Friday's match.
They will fly back to South Africa on Saturday.
Stormers: 15 Joe Pietersen, 14 Gio Aplon, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Jean de Villiers (captain), 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Siya Kolisi, 6 Deon Fourie, 5 Andries Bekker, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Pat Cilliers, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Frans Malherbe, 18 Gerbrandt Grobler, 19 Don Armand, 20 Nic Groom, 21 Gary van Aswegen, 22 Gerhard van den Heever.
Date: Friday, May 17
Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne
Kick-off: 19.40 (11.40 SA time; 09.40 GMT)
Referee: Mike Fraser (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Rohan Hoffmann (Australia), Ed Martin (Australia)
TMO: Matt Goddard (Australia)