Rugby 12.2.2018 12:14 pm

We give our verdict on the Stormers’ Super Rugby squad

Siya Kolisi will lead the Stormers again. (Photo by Grant Pitcher/Gallo Images)

Siya Kolisi will lead the Stormers again. (Photo by Grant Pitcher/Gallo Images)

There’s some exciting talent in the squad once again but do Robbie Fleck’s men have the experienced spine to stop flattering to deceive?

The Stormers generally boast decent depth despite all the shenanigans of liquidations and court cases with former commercial partners.

In fact, one can pretty much bank on the Cape franchise always at least reaching the knock-out stages of Super Rugby but they just can’t seem to decode winning those matches.

There is, as always, hope given some of the young talent that has been assembled yet perhaps the Stormers lack a really experienced core.

Could that translate into deja vu?

Only time will tell.

FULLBACKS: SP Marais, Dillyn Leyds

Dillyn Leyds. (Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images)

Dillyn Leyds. (Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images)

There’s been little indication really what the Stormers’ plan in this position is because there are quite a few versatile options.

SP Marais revitalised his career in 2017 with his consistency but there’s agreement among the coaching staff that the mercurial Dillyn Leyds might be the trump card (even if coach Robbie Fleck likes the idea of him at No 10).

Cheetahs import Sergeal Petersen also has experience at Super Rugby level in the position.

VERDICT: The Stormers can go for stability or they can expand horizons by taking a risk

WINGS: Craig Barry, Sergeal Petersen, Raymond Rhule, Seabelo Senatla

Raymond Rhule. (Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images)

Raymond Rhule. (Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images)

The Stormers can look at this group in two ways.

There will be doubts over players like Petersen and Raymond Rhule, who are relatively small in stature and perhaps lack physical presence.

But the upside is that these players are game-breakers too, individuals who can change the course of a match in an instant.

Much hope will also be invested in Seabelo Senatla, who says he’s ready to make the proper switch from sevens to fifteens.

That could be a massive thing.

VERDICT: Faith could see these men flourish

CENTRES: Damian de Allende, Dan du Plessis, JJ Engelbrecht, Dan Kriel, EW Viljoen

Damian de Allende. (Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images)

Damian de Allende. (Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images)

2017’s injury struggles meant that the Cape franchise’s rookie centres needed to grow up quickly.

In that regard, EW Viljoen differentiated himself and seems set to become a classy midfielder while Dan Kriel and Dan du Plessis will hope to stay fit to establish themselves.

There is experience in Damian de Allende but his career is at a crossroads and the same can be said of JJ Engelbrecht, who’s probably entered last chance saloon in a disappointing career.

Inconsistency could become a problem in this position.

VERDICT: There’s a lot of baggage that needs to be managed

FLYHALVES: Jean-Luc du Plessis, Joshua Stander, George Whitehead, Damian Willemse

Damian Willemse. (Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images)

Damian Willemse. (Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images)

It will be tempting for the Stormers to try to extract every ounce of potential and talent from 19-year-old Damian Willemse, who’s already been shouldered with heavy expectations.

Given the departure of Robert du Preez to the Sharks and relatively unknown depth in George Whitehead and Joshua Stander, the coaching staff might have even more ammunition to groom Willemse.

Yet that’s a lot to expect on such a young man, particularly if he has to manage a complex game-plan.

Jean-Luc du Plessis’ return later on will be welcomed but he’s very injury prone.

VERDICT: There’s the risk of relying on a young man too much 

SCRUMHALVES: Paul de Wet, Dewaldt Duvenage, Justin Phillips, Jano Vermaak

Justin Phillips. (Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images)

Justin Phillips. (Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images)

If they stay fit, the Stormers will feel relatively comfortable with their stocks here.

Jano Vermaak is a wily campaigner and Dewaldt Duvenage’s underrated service and game-management is a strength.

There will be growth pains though they need to delve into the youngsters.

VERDICT: Experience and class but the depth isn’t really proven

FLANKERS: Siya Kolisi (c), Juarno Augustus, Nizaam Carr, Jaco Coetzee, Steph de Wit, Sikhu Notshe, Kobus van Dyk, Cobus Wiese

Kobus van Dyk. (Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images)

Kobus van Dyk. (Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images)

As is the case with virtually every other team in South Africa, the talent among the loose forwards is something to be envious about.

Siya Kolisi, following a breakthrough year of sorts at Bok level last year, will spearhead the Stormers’ physical intent and will have support from Nizaam Carr, who’d have grown from his stint in England during the off-season.

Kobus van Dyk and Cobus Wiese are young, tall and heavy enforcers and Rassie Erasmus apparently has big plans for Sikhu Notshe at No 8.

It will be interesting to see how Junior Springbok star Juarno Augustus is incorporated.

VERDICT: Versatility and proven class intertwine with the brute force of the youngsters

LOCKS: Jan de Klerk, Johan du Toit, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Eben Etzebeth, Salmaan Moerat, JD Schickerling, Chris van Zyl, Eddie Zandberg

Salmaan Moerat. (Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images)

Salmaan Moerat. (Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images)

There’s not much to say about Pieter-Steph du Toit and the currently injured Eben Etzebeth – a world class lock pairing.

Instead, the focus is very much on the men below them.

JD Schickerling, who had an outstanding Currie Cup, will relish the opportunity to play in Etzebeth’s absence and is expected to make his mark.

Salmaan Moerat is a promising youngster and Chris van Zyl is the perfect squad player, a leader willing to do the donkey work too.

VERDICT: Even without Etzebeth, there’s some real potential firepower

HOOKERS: Bongi Mbonambi, Dean Muir, Scarra Ntubeni, Ramone Samuels

Ramone Samuels. (Photo by Grant Pitcher/Gallo Images)

Ramone Samuels. (Photo by Grant Pitcher/Gallo Images)

Despite being relatively underappreciated at national level, Bongi Mbonambi has established himself as a reliable performer at Super Rugby level and is a vital cog in the forward machine.

However, Scarra Ntubeni’s injury troubles means there’s an experienced deputy lacking though Ramone Samuels seems to be on the verge of making his mark.

VERDICT: Probably a bit thin

PROPS: Neethling Fouche, JC Janse van Rensburg, Steven Kitshoff, Wilco Louw, Frans Malherbe, Caylib Oosthuizen, Carlu Sadie, Ali Vermaak

Caylib Oosthuizen. (Photo by Grant Pitcher/Gallo Images)

Caylib Oosthuizen. (Photo by Grant Pitcher/Gallo Images)

On paper, the Stormers can field a monstrous pack and front row in particular but the trick is actually getting all of those resources fit at the same time.

Frans Malherbe and Wilco Louw are injured, meaning there might be a period where the tighthead position might need to use all-rounders like Ali Vermaak or Caylib Oosthuizen.

That sometimes disrupts the solidity of the forward platform.

VERDICT: Fantastic … if there are no injuries

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