JOJANESBURG: The DHL Stormers face another huge test of character on Saturday when they host the Emirates Lions in a tough Vodacom Super Rugby derby match at DHL Newlands, which starts at 17h15 on Saturday evening.
Sikhumbuzo Notshe will play his 50th game for the DHL Stormers, while they will have to do without the services of Springbok lock Pieter-Steph du Toit, who was withdrawn because of illness.
The Capetonians suffered a surprise defeat to the Sunwolves last Saturday in the scorching heat of Hong Kong and they will be a determined to restore some pride and regain their form in front of the passionate Cape rugby faithful. The fact that this match is played just a few hours before the Springbok squad announcement, adds an extra bite to this local derby.
The Vodacom Bulls are home to the visiting Brumbies in the early Saturday afternoon fixture (15h05) at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria and John Mitchell’s side will also be looking to bounce back following their loss to the Jaguares last weekend.
Traveling to Buenos Aires is not easy and the Cell C Sharks will experience that when they face the impressive Jaguares on Friday evening (21h40, SA time) in the Argentine capital. The Durbanites beat the Chiefs last weekend at home and they will be hoping to replicate that performance.
Cell C Sharks coach Robert du Preez named an unchanged side for the away match in Argentina against a team they have never lost against. However, every clash between these sides was a close affair. But this year the KwaZulu-Natalians are up against a Jaguares side coming off a win streak of five matches.
Vodacom Bulls centre and skipper Burger Odendaal is back after missing last week’s trip to Argentina through injury, which sees Springbok Handré Pollard resuming his flyhalf duties. Amongst the forwards, Nic de Jager is selected at flank and Jaco Visagie swops jerseys with hooker Adriaan Strauss.
After a slow start in matches between the sides, where the Emirates Lions won just one of the first 13 encounters against the DHL Stormers (with one draw), the men from Johannesburg have now won their last three games on the trot against their Capetonian counterparts. Their defeat to the Chiefs in Round 13 snapped a five-game home winning streak for the DHL Stormers, who will now be keen to avoid consecutive home defeats for the first time since 2011.
Notshe’s inclusion at No 8 for the DHL Stormers comes as part of a new loose forward combination, with captain Siya Kolisi back in the starting team and Kobus van Dyk shifting to blindside flank. Meanwhile, Jan de Klerk comes at lock for Du Toit. They also welcome back Springbok hooker Bongi Mbonambi and prop Steven Kitshoff, both on the bench. Raymond Rhule is picked on the left wing in place of Seabelo Senatla, who has returned to the Springbok Sevens squad.
The Emirates Lions have also made several changes for their match squad. Prop Jacques van Rooyen and flank Marnus Schoeman return to the starting team, with Kwagga Smith moving from flank to No 8. Aphiwe Dyantyi shifts from centre back to wing and Harold Vorster resumes his midfield partnership with Rohan Janse van Rensburg, while Ruan Combrinck is back at right wing.