Brown to make his debut for Stormers




Former All Black flyhalf Tony Brown who cut his Super rugby teeth with the then-named Otago Highlanders back in 1996 looks set to make his debut in a Stormers run-on XV at Newlands on Saturday.

Stormers’ fans have been calling on the team’s brainstrust to field the blond flyhalf at the outset, but coach Rassie Erasmus has consistently preferred Peter ‘Bash’ Grant and opted to use the former All Black as a substitute, with a view to adding impetus to the side’s resurgence as an impact player.

It’s only a matter of days ago that Erasmus was at great pains to explain to the media what his intentions were with Brown.

Now the scene looks set for the Stormers’ fans to get their wish and indications are that Brown will be taking the field at Newlands on Saturday against his former team, now in the guise of the Highlanders, with whom he set several records during his nine seasons there.

No doubt Saturday’s Super 14 clash will stir Brown’s memories, one of which dates back to 1999 when his prolific boot was a key factor in the Highlanders’ 33-18 Super 12 semifinal 33-18 win over the Stormers at Newlands.

Some of the local fans will remember arriving at the ground when the Newlands air was thick with controversy after the Stormers threatened to strike after a match fees row on the morning of the match.

But Saturday’s match will offer Brown the chance to be on the winning side again at Newlands.

However, this time he could be putting in the boot against the lowly Highlanders, who have a mere one win after nine 2008 outings.

And another prolific Newlands contribution by Brown could catapult the Stormers into the 2008 Super 14 semifinals.

The equally prolific Grant, currently the third highest Super 14 highest points scorer, is due for a break after he cried off midway through the second half when he started feeling the effects of the influenza that afflicted him in the run-up to last week’s Hurricanes clash.

“We are definitely considering giving Bash (Grant) a little bit of a rest. He has been playing non-stop for a while,” Erasmus said.

“Tony (Brown) is a big possibility to start this week.”

Injuries and health considerations will force Erasmus to make several changes this week. In the past few weeks Erasmus has had the luxury of keeping changes to a premium.

Another player who has been feeling the effects of regular game time is the vastly-improved lock Andries Bekker, who is likely to make way for the athletic second-rower Ross Skeate.

Hooker Schalk Brits has dished up one storming performance after the other and in view of the demanding Brumbies and Warathas fixtures further down the line, Erasmus will do well to call up Tiaan Liebenberg from the subs’ bench and expose him to the all-out hurly-burly of Super 14 competition again.

Erasmus stressed that whatever changes will be made to the side for the Highlanders will not come about because of a rotation policy or that the Stormers were underestimating the out-of-form Highlanders, but rather out of necessity.

The New Zealanders will be arriving at Newlands on the back of 47-17 thumping by 2007 Super 14 champions, the Bulls, at Loftus last week. Schalk Ferreira looks a good bet for the loosehead berth in the absence of the sidelined JD Moller.

The rightwing berth berth which has been vacated by Tonderai Chavhanga, courtesy of a grade two hamstring tear could be a toss up between Gio Aplon and Dylan des Fountain, with the versatile Joe Pietersen also coming into consideration.

Given the Highlanders’ poor record, Erasmus will be quietly content to cope with this week’s ‘breather’ in the light of the injury crisis that has dealt the Stormers camp severe blows earlier in the week.

Sapa –

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