Springbok hooker Bongi Mbonambi will earn his 50th Vodacom Super Rugby cap when the DHL Stormers face the high-flying Chiefs of New Zealand in the feature match on Saturday in Cape Town, where the kick-off is scheduled for 17h15.
Both teams are unbeaten thus far this year and a bumper crowd is expected at DHL Newlands. The Chiefs will go into the match confident after winning their last three matches against the DHL Stormers, including last year’s big win in the playoffs.
Robbie Fleck has made only two changes to the home team’s starting line-up – scrumhalf Jano Vermaak has been ruled out with concussion and is replaced by the experienced Dewaldt Duvenage, while Wilco Louw is fit again and will take his place at tighthead prop alongside hooker Mbonambi, with Frans Malherbe moving to the bench.
Meanwhile, Chiefs head coach, Dave Rennie, has made five changes to the starting line-up which defeated the Vodacom Bulls in Hamilton last weekend.
Other round seven action sees the Vodacom Bulls tackling the Sunwolves in Tokyo in the first match of the day on Saturday at 07h15. Springbok backs Jesse Kriel and Handré Pollard are both rested while lock Lood de Jager is injured. That means first starts of the season for Tian Schoeman (flyhalf) and Jannes Kirsten (flank), while Warrick Gelant will wear the No 15 jersey.The Cell C Sharks and much-improved Jaguares from Argentina clash in Durban, where the starting time is 15h05 on Saturday. Experienced Springbok prop Beast Mtawarira, who was unavailable for selection last week due to the death of his grandmother, returns to the starting line-up along with Stephan Lewies, who replaces Ruan Botha in the No 5 jersey.
The Jaguares are on an impressive run of five win from six matches, including a current winning streak of three wins in a row and they will no doubt be a hard nut to crack at Growthpoint Kings Park due to their physical and competitive approach.
The final match featuring a South African team is at 08h05 on Sunday morning (SA time) in Perth, where the Western Force host the Southern Kings.
Experienced Kings centre Waylon Murray arrived back in Port Elizabeth on Thursday after being ruled out of the rest of their Australian tour with a hamstring injury. Luzuko Vulindlu replaces Murray to partner with Berton Klaasen in the midfield.
Makazole Mapimpi is back to full fitness and takes the place of Alshaun Bock at left wing. Up front, hooker Michael Willemse gets the nod in a rotational switch while Kurt Haupt is being rest. Reserve hooker, Martin Bezuidenhout, is set to make his 50th Vodacom Super Rugby appearance should he make his way onto the field from the bench.
The Toyota Cheetahs, Emirates Lions, Crusaders and Rebels all have byes this coming weekend.
Vodacom Super Rugby Resources:
2017 MEDIA GUIDE | MATCH PACKS| MATCH CENTRE
Sunwolves v Vodacom Blue Bulls
Sunwolves: 15. Kotaro Matsushima, 14. Takaaki Nakazuru, 13. Timothy Lafaele, 12. Derek Carpenter, 11. Kenki Fukuoka, 10. Hayden Cripps, 9. Fumiaki Tanaka, 8. Rahboni Warren Vosayaco, 7. Shuhei Matsuhashi, 6. Yoshitaka Tokunaga, 5. Uwe Helu, 4. Liaki Moli, 3. Yasuo Yamaji, 2. Yusuke Niwai, 1. Koki Yamamoto. Replacements: 16. Takeshi Kizu, 17. Keita Inagaki, 18. Heiichiro Ito, 19. Sam Wykes, 20. Shunsuke Nunomaki, 21. Yuki Yatomi, 22. Yu Tamura, 23. Ryohei Yamanaka.
Vodacom Blue Bulls: 15. Warrick Gelant, 14. Travis Ismaiel, 13. Jan Serfontein, 12. Burger Odendaal, 11. Jamba Ulengo, 10. Tian Schoeman, 9. Rudy Paige, 8. Hanro Liebenberg, 7. Jannes Kirsten, 6. Nic de Jager, 5. RG Snyman, 4. Jason Jenkins, 3. Trevor Nyakane, 2. Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1. Lizo Gqoboka. Replacements: 16. Edgar Marutlulle, 17. Pierre Schoeman, 18. Martin Dreyer, 19. Jaco Visagie/Hendré Stassen, 20. Jacques Potgieter, 21. Ivan van Zyl, 22. Francois Brummer, 23. Franco Naude.
Date: Saturday, 8 April
SA Time: 07h15
Venue: Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium, Tokyo
Referee: Will Houston
Assistant referees: Rohan Hoffman, Akisha Aso
Television match official: Minoro Fuji
Cell C Sharks v Jaguares
Cell c Sharks: 15. Garth April, 14. Kobus van Wyk, 13. Lukhanyo Am, 12. Andre Esterhuizen, 11. Lwazi Mvovo, 10. Curwin Bosch, 9. Cobus Reinach, 8. Daniel du Preez, 7. Jean-Luc du Preez, 6. Tera Mtembu (captain), 5. Stephan Lewies, 4. Etienne Oosthuizen, 3. Coenie Oosthuizen, 2. Franco Marais, 1. Beast Mtawarira. Replacements: 16. Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17. Thomas du Toit, 18. Lourens Adriaanse, 19. Ruan Botha, 20. Philip van der Walt, 21. Michael Claassens, 22. Inny Radebe, 23. Jeremy Ward.
Date: Saturday, 8 April
SA Time: 15h05
Venue: Growthpoint Kings Park, Durban
Referee: Angus Gardner
Assistant referees: Ben O’Keeffe, Stuart Berry
Television match official: Marius Jonker
DHL Stormers v Chiefs
DHL Stormers: 15. SP Marais, 14. Cheslin Kolbe, 13. EW Viljoen, 12. Dan du Plessis, 11. Dillyn Leyds, 10. Robert du Preez, 9. Dewaldt Duvenage, 8. Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7. Siya Kolisi (captain), 6. Cobus Wiese, 5. Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4. Eben Etzebeth, 3. Wilco Louw, 2. Bongi Mbonambi, 1. JC Janse van Rensburg. Replacements: 16. Ramone Samuels, 17. Oli Kebble, 18. Frans Malherbe, 19. Jan de Klerk, 20. Nizaam Carr, 21. Justin Phillips, 22. Kurt Coleman, 23. Dan Kriel.
Chiefs: 15. Damian McKenzie, 14. Toni Pulu, 13. Anton Lienert-Brown, 12. Stephen Donald, 11. James Lowe, 10. Aaron Cruden, 9. Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8. Michael Leitch, 7. Lachlan Boshier, 6. Liam Messam, 5. Brodie Retallick, 4. Dominic Bird, 3. Atu Moli, 2. Hika Elliot, 1. Kane Hames. Replacements: 16. Brayden Mitchell, 17. Siegfried Fisi’ihoi, 18. Sosefo Kautai, 19. Taleni Seu, 20. Mitchell Brown, 21. Finlay Christie, 22. Sam McNicol, 23. Shaun Stevenson
Date: Saturday, 8 April
SA Time: 17h15
Venue: DHL Newlands, Cape Town
Referee: Jaco Peyper
Assistant referees: Jaco van Heerden, Cwengile Jadezweni
Television match official: Shaun Veldsman
Western Force v Southern Kings
Western Force: TBA
Southern Kings: 15. Malcolm Jaer, 14. Yaw Penxe, 13. Berton Klaasen, 12. Luzuko Vulindlu, 11. Makazole Mapimpi, 10. Lionel Cronje (captain), 9. Louis Schreuder, 8. Ruaan Lerm, 7. Andisa Ntsila, 6. Chris Cloete, 5. Wilhelm van der Sluys, 4. Irne Herbst, 3. Ross Geldenhuys, 2. Michael Willemse, 1. Schalk van der Merwe. Replacements: 16. Martin Bezuidenhout, 17. Chris Heiberg, 18. Justin Forwood, 19. Mzwanele Zito, 20. Tyler Paul, 21. Rick Schroeder, 22. Pieter-Steyn de Wet, 23. Masixole Banda/Wandile Mjekevu.
Date: Sunday, 9 April
SA Time: 08h05
Venue: NIB Stadium, Perth
Referee: Rasta Rasivhenge
Assistant referees: Quinton Immelman, Graham Cooper
Television match official: George Ayoub
Other Round 7 fixtures:
Friday, 7 April
09h35: Hurricanes v Waratahs (Wellington)
Saturday, 8 April
09h35: Highlanders v Blues (Dunedin)
11h45: Brumbies v Reds (Canberra)
Byes: Toyota Cheetahs, Emirates Lions, Crusaders, Rebels.