Why Stormers are ‘resting’ their star




Stormers coach Kobus van der Merwe has joined in the spirit of “national reconciliation” in taking the risky step of resting star Springbok midfielder Jean de Villiers for the Super 14 crunch match against the Bulls in Pretoria on Saturday.

Van der Merwe on Wednesday named a team that showed just two changes, including a positional switch, from that which thrashed the Lions 30-8 last Saturday.

De Villiers gets rested in terms of an agreement with Springbok coach Jake White, which sees Corn’ Uys move from left wing to outside centre. Springbok utility back Brent Russell, on the bench last week, slots in on the left wing.

Van der Merwe admitted that resting De Villiers will have an effect on the team, but he made a commitment to rest the midfielder at some stage and now is as good a time as any.

“It is never nice to rest one of your star Springboks, or one of the guys that have performed well,” Van der Merwe said.

“But Corn’ [Uys] played some really good rugby in the Currie Cup [last year] and he’s moving back to his favourite position [outside centre]. Uys and De Wet Barry have played together, so it’s not a new combination.

“But the important part is that we’ve got a commitment towards the World Cup as well, while we’ve got three home games left after this. We also have an obligation to spectators here [at Newlands] and our supporters [at home] that they see the best players in action.

“We could have forced the issue and gone against our commitment with SA Rugby, but I don’t think that would have been fair on the players as well as the national team, that’s why we’ve decided to rest him,” Van der Merwe explained.

The Stormers coach also revealed that he first wanted to rest De Villiers in the Week Eight encounter against the Crusaders – which would have given him an almost three-week break, considering the Stormers had a bye the following week.

But a host of injuries meant he had to play. The first game after the break was last week against the Lions, a game which the Stormers needed to win to keep their play-off hopes alive and under the circumstances they had to field the best available team.

That means they will be without one of their star players against the Bulls this week.

Van der Merwe also revealed that there could be other key players rested in the weeks to come.

“This coming Monday we’ve got a teleconference call – all super 14 coaches, the national selection panel, as well as national team management. Then we’ll communicate again as to where we stand to resting certain players.

“The previous indication was that Jake [White, Bok coach] wanted Schalk [Burger] to get more game time – as well as Big Joe [van Niekerk].

“So we’ll assess that again on Monday after our teleconference call.

“The understanding is that if there are one or two teams that are in play-off contention, the franchise would be allowed to play the strongest possible team,” Van der Merwe added.

Stormers: 15 Conrad Jantjes, 14 Breyton Paulse, 13 Corne Uys, 12 De Wet Barry, 11 Brent Russell, 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 Schalk Brits, 1 JD Moller.
Replacements: 16 Tiaan Liebenberg, 17 Schalk Ferreira, 18 Ross Skeate, 19 Joe Van Niekerk, 20 JP Joubert, 21 Naas Olivier, 22 Dylan Des Fountain.

Date: Saturday, 14 April
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Kick-off: 16.00 (14.00 GMT)
Referee: Marius Jonker (South Africa)
Touch judges: Christie du Preez (South Africa), Gareth Lloyd-Jones (South Africa)
Television match official: Johann Meuwesen (South Africa)
Assessor: Arrie Schoonwinkel (South Africa)


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