Cape Town based Super Rugby franchise the Stormers have been bolstered by the return of a number of key players duties in the Sevens World Series and in Japan.
Stalwarts Schalk Burger and Eben Etzebeth joined up with the team last week after returning from stints in Japan, along with Damian de Allende who has been sidelined with an ankle injury.
Juan de Jongh and Cheslin Kolbe were also back at training this week after completing their duties for the Springbok Sevens in the Sevens World Series.
Kolbe and De Jongh starred for the BlitzBokke in Wellington and Sydney, with the quicksilver Kolbe named in the Dream Team for the Australian leg of the Series.
Stormers coach Robbie Fleck said that having players of their calibre back in the fold is a significant boost as they continue to build towards the new Super Rugby season which kicks off with a clash against the Bulls at Newlands on Saturday, February 27.
“It is fantastic to have world class players such as these back in the mix, as they give the rest of the squad a real lift.
“The rest of the players have put in an incredible amount of work in the off-season, and now the focus is on getting the returning players up to speed on our plans as soon as possible,” he said.
The first task at hand will be the pre-season friendly against the Jaguares from Argentina at Newlands on Saturday, February 13.
The visitors boast the likes of Pumas flyhalf Nicolas Sanchez, who was the leading points-scorer at the 2015 Rugby World Cup, elusive wing Santiago Cordero, tough flanks Juan Manuel Leguizamon, and Pablo Matera amongst their ranks and will be led by Argentina skipper Agustin Creevy.
Fleck said that his squad will have to make the most of every minute against the Jaguares to ensure that they are able to hit the ground running from the first match against the Bulls.
“The Jaguares will be a seriously tough side that will test us in a number of important areas.
“We got some good game-time under our belts in the friendly against the SWD Eagles in George, and we want to use this match against the Jaguares to ensure that all of the players are ready to go ahead our first Super Rugby match against the Bulls,” he added.
Of course, the friendly will also be the first opportunity for Stormers fans to catch some of the new signings in action against a highly competitive Jaguares side.