Stormers beef up for bulky Hurricanes




The prospect of some “wet weather” when they face the Hurricanes in Palmerston North on Saturday has caused Stormers coach Kobus van der Merwe to bring in some extra bulk into his pack.

Van der Merwe, speaking from the team’s base in Wellington where they are preparing for the Round Five encounter at the FMG Stadium in Palmerston North, confirmed that he is falling back on some of his more seasoned players for this encounter against one of the tournament’s front runners.

The Hurricanes are second on the standings with three wins from four starts, after edging the Brumbies 11-10 through an 80th minute Thomas Waldrom try last week.

“We know it will be a tough game,” the Stormers coach told this website.

“It started getting very cold and they say it will be wet on Saturday.

“It [the wet weather] will certainly have an effect on our approach,” he added.

Van der Merwe also explained why he made four changes to the side that lost 35-24 to the Highlanders last week.

Justin Melck replaces Robbie Diack among the loose forwards.

“He [Melck] comes in [at number eight] to give us that physical presence,” the coach said.

Springbok Bolla Conradie returns at scrum-half in place of JP Joubert, who started in the last two games.

Conrad Jantjes, despite doubts over the groin injury that sidelined him last week, will play on the left wing, with Brent Russell moving from wing to fullback and Gio Aplon dropping down to the bench.

Van der Merwe said Jantjes’ “experience and stability”, along with his educated boot, is what secured him the nod in the starting XV.

And with the wet weather set to further minimise the team’s strike force and ability to attack from deep, the coach decided to add some extra bulk to the replacement bench.

Two locks, Ross Skeate and Francois van der Merwe, will be on the bench, with prop Schalk Ferreira the man losing out. Gerrie Britz, who starts at lock, will again cover the loose forward positions.

Van der Merwe said they will make a final call on the fitness of Springboks De Wet Barry (hamstring strain) and Conrad Jantjes (groin injury) on Thursday.

“I don’t think it is serious,” he said of the duo.

However, the player they are concerned about is wing Egon Seconds – who is struggling with a hamstring injury.

Seconds will undergo a fitness test on Saturday and of he does not pass it, he will be flown home and one-cap wing Dylan des Fountain will join the squad in New Zealand.

Stormers: 15 Brent Russell, 14 Breyton Paulse, 13 Jean de Villiers, 12 De Wet Barry, 11 Conrad Jantjes, 10 Peter Grant, 9 Bolla Conradie, 8 Justin Melck, 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 Ross Skeate, 19 Francois van der Merwe, 20 JP Joubert, 21 Corne Uys, 22 Gio Aplon

Date: Saturday, 3 March
Venue: FMG Stadium, Palmerston North
Kick-off: 19.05 (06.05 GMT)
Referee: Matt Goddard (Australia)
Touch judges: Bradley Wahl (Australia), Matt Stanish (New Zealand)
Television match official: Chris Rooney (New Zealand)
Assessor: Stuart Beissel (New Zealand), Lusanda Menze (South Africa)

By Jan de Koning of 365 Digital

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