Barry beefs up Stormers midfield




Stormers coach Kobus van der Merwe has decided to “beef up” his midfield for the team’s opening match of their month-long Australasian tour, when they face the Highlanders at Carisbrook, in Dunedin, on Saturday.

The starting XV for this Round Four encounter shows three changes – all in the backline – from the selection that recorded a 21-16 win over the Chiefs last week.

The most significant of the changes come at inside centre, where De Wet Barry comes in to take over from Corn’ Uys in a moved that indicates the coach wants to improve his team’s defensive capabilities.

An injury has also forced the coach to change his plans – after he intended to play Brent Russell at fullback and Egon Seconds on the wing. Conrad Jantjes loses out and Dylan des Fountain, who made his debut on the wing last week, did not even accompany the team on tour.

But Seconds suffered a hamstring injury in midweek and Gio Aplon returns to the team at fullback, with Russell now shifting to the left wing where Seconds would have played.

The pack remains unchanged and the only change to the bench is Uys taking the utility back spot that Russell held last week.

Van der Merwe again opted for a five forwards, two backs split on the bench.

He said the opposition, the Highlanders, necessitated a change to the midfield.

“The Highlanders have a strong midfield and we feel that De Wet Barry will make his presence felt there,” Van der Merwe said.

“He also has the experience of Super 14 rugby and has played at Carisbrook before.

“At the back Gio [Aplon], Brent [Russell] and Breyton [Paulse] all give us pace and the ability to create scoring chances from turnover ball. They also bring unpredictability and flair to our attack.

“We want to be known as a team that can score tries from everywhere and that is one aspect we will be looking to improve on this week.”

Van der Merwe said it is vital for the team to build on the win achieved against the Chiefs last week, after the Stormers slumped to two losses in the opening rounds.

“After the win over the Chiefs it was important for us to maintain continuity and hence we did not want to make many changes.

“We have retained the pack in an effort to build on the progress that was made against the Chiefs. We were effective in the line-outs in the previous match and our cleaning out was a lot better. We will be looking for more improvement this week. The loose forwards also made more impact at the breakdown where we forced several turnovers. Again, we will be looking to make further progress here.

“The guys are looking good. They have recovered well from the travel, and have quickly adjusted to the 11 hour time difference.

“We have had two good field sessions, which included a solid scrumming session and drills in preparation for the match. The guys have also done some rehab in the pool and also had a good gym session on Wednesday afternoon.”

Stormers: 15 Gio Aplon, 14 Breyton Paulse, 13 Jean de Villiers, 12 De Wet Barry, 11 Brent Russell, 10 Peter Grant, 9 JP Joubert, 8 Robbie Diack, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Luke Watson (c), 5 Andries Bekker, 4 Gerrie Britz, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Tiaan Liebenberg, 1 JD Moller
Replacements: 16 Schalk Brits, 17 Eddie Andrews, 18 Schalk Ferreira, 19 Francois van der Merwe, 20 Justin Melck, 21 Bolla Conradie, 22 Corne Uys

Date: Saturday, February 24
Venue: Carisbrook, Dunedin
Kick-off: 17.35 (04.35 GMT)
Referee: Matt Goddard (Australia)
Touch judges: Andrew Lindsay (Australia), Vinny Munro (New Zealand)
Television match official: Brent Murray (New Zealand)

365 Digital

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