The Stormers have named Sevens star Angelo Davids in their starting line-up for their Super Rugby Unlocked clash against Griquas in Kimberley on Saturday.
In one of five changes to the team who became unstuck against the Bulls last week, Davids replaces Leolin Zas on the left wing, with Stormers coach John Dobson looking for a way to regain momentum.
“We have to build depth in the squad, so we had to identify guys who deserve an opportunity, and Angelo is a guy we cannot leave on the bench the whole tournamant, as well as JD Schickerling,” Dobson said yesterday.
“But more importantly we are looking to bounce back and that will bring energy.”
Davids and new flank Marcel Theunissen were two of the stars in the Western Province side at the SA Rugby U-21 Championships at Ellis Park last month.
“Angelo has a great work ethic. He has an X-factor and he scored a couple of hat-tricks up at altitude (at the age group championships), while Marcel as captain ran the whole field full in thin air,” Dobson said.
Theunissen gets his chance after injuries to Siya Kolisi and Nama Xaba, while Jaco Coetzee suffered concussion during training on Tuesday.
Though Dobson hasn’t written off their chances in the Unlocked series, he said they were targeting a place in the Currie Cup final on January 23.
“Nothing is over as yet, but the Bulls look like the frontrunners and everyone has dropped at least one game except the Cheetahs, which makes Friday night’s game in Durban a big one,” he said.
Tighthead prop Neethling Fouche, lock David Meihuizen and Theunissen come into the starting line-up, while Davids will make his debut and scrumhalf Paul de Wet steps in for Herschel Jantjies, who misses the match on compassionate grounds.
There are two Boks in the form of hooker Scarra Ntubeni and prop Frans Malherbe on an extended bench, which also features a fit-again Ruhan Nel.
“I don’t think last week against the Bulls was our most energetic performance, so we want the guys to bring the enthusiasm and work-rate,” Dobson said.
Meanwhile, captain Steven Kitshoff will earn his 100th Super Rugby cap this weekend.
“It is a massive honour to reach that milestone and to represent such an incredible union,” Kitshoff said.
Stormers team: Warrick Gelant, Edwill van der Merwe, Dan du Plessis,
Rikus Pretorius, Angelo Davids, Damian Willemse, Paul de Wet, Juarno
Augustus, Ernst van Rhyn, Marcel Theunissen, JD Schickerling, David
Meihuizen, Neethling Fouche, Bongi Mbonambi, Steven Kitshoff
Bench (from): Scarra Ntubeni,
Kwenzo Blose, Frans Malherbe, Sazi Sandi, Salmaan Moerat, Chris van
Zyl, Ben-Jason Dixon, 23 Godlen Masimla, Tim Swiel, Michal Hazner,
Griquas team: James Verity-Amm, Ederies Arendse, Eduan Keyter,
Johnathan Francke, Bjorn Basson, Tinus de Beer, Zak Burger (captain),
Carl Els, Stefan Willemse, Gideon van der Merwe, Adré Smith, Mzwanele
Zito, Ewald van der Westhuizen, Hendrik Luus, Mox Mxoli.
Bench (from): Monde Hadebe, Andrew
Beerwinkel, Madot Mabokela, Johan Momsen, Ewan Coetzee, Theo Maree,
George Whitehead, Harlon Klaasen, Bandisa Ndlovu, Cameron Lindsay, Dan