CAPE TOWN – Stormers kingpin Pieter Steph du Toit has promised the Stormers have sorted out their line-out issues.
Up at Loftus last week, the visitors could not catch a cold, let alone a line-out in the first half, which severely interrupted their momentum.
With the team collectively taking responsibility for the problem, the SA Rugby Player of the Year believes it will not be an issue tomorrow against the Lions at Newlands.
“We pin-pointed the problem and sorted it out. I think it was a system error. We worked hard on it this week and we have good options. We have gone back to the basics,” Du Toit said at the team announcement yesterday where Chris van Zyl coming in at lock is one of the three changes to the starting line-up.
Van Zyl replaces Salmaan Moerat, who is struggling with a back injury. Wing JJ Engelbrecht also has a neck problem that allows Sergeal Petersen to debut for the Stormers. There is a further movement in the backline with Damian Willemse moving from flyhalf to fullback for the injured Dillyn Leyds (thigh). Jean-Luc du Plessis slots in at No 10 this weekend.
Springboks Frans Malherbe and Eben Etzebeth have also been included on the bench that should beef up the Stormers pack considerably. Etzebeth, in particular, is a major boost as he was only expected to turn out next week against the Sharks.
“It was always touch-and-go,” Stormers coach Robbie Fleck said. “Eben has been struggling with a back injury the last couple of weeks. In terms of his knee, he is 100 percent. He showed promising signs on Tuesday. We’re pretty happy with the way he turned out and he did full session, so happy to name him on the bench.”
The recall of Du Plessis at first receiver is particular pertinent for the Stormers. The former Paarl Boys High prodigy was not overly convincing when he replaced Willemse last week at Loftus with a couple of passes going astray, but he at least attempted to break free from the rut the Stormers found themselves in.
“Look, we couldn’t read too much into Jean-Luc’s performance against the Bulls when he came on last week just like we couldn’t read too much into Damian. But Jean-Luc is a quality player and although he has started for us since last year’s game against the Lions, it is good to have him back in the mix,” Fleck said.
“Last week you couldn’t judge too much, but this is an opportunity for him now, and hopefully he can play with some confidence. He is just coming back from a long injury lay-off so that is why we have Josh Stander on the bench (even though Willemse can also play flyhalf).”