· Injury-hit DHL Stormers looking for redemption in Brisbane
· Mtawarira to claim SA appearance record in Joburg encounter
· Vermuelen handed Vodacom Bulls captaincy for Loftus derby
The injury-hit DHL Stormers continue with the Australasian leg of their Vodacom Super Rugby campaign as they take on the Reds in Brisbane on Friday morning. The Emirates Lions host the Cell C Sharks later that evening in Johannesburg, while the Vodacom Bulls tackle the Jaguares on Saturday afternoon in Pretoria. All matches will be televised live on SuperSport 1.
Injury-hit DHL Stormers looking for redemption in Brisbane
A combination of injuries and squad rotation have resulted in seven changes to the DHL Stormers team for their Vodacom Super Rugby match against the Reds in Brisbane, which kicks off at 11h00 SA time on Friday.
The Capetonians will start with an all-new front row, with Corne Fourie and Frans Malherbe on either side of hooker Scarra Ntubeni, while tighthead prop Michael Kumbirai is set to make his debut off the bench. Cobus Wiese comes into the second row alongside Chris van Zyl, with Kobus van Dyk at blindside flank to complete the loose trio with captain Siya Kolisi and No 8 Jaco Coetzee.
In the backline, Justin Phillips is in line to make his first start of the season at scrumhalf, with Ruhan Nel returning at outside centre.
The Cape side have lost Eben Etzebeth, Dan du Plessis and Wilco Louw through injury the past weekend, while Pieter-Steph du Toit is also unavailable having returned home for the birth of his first child.
Overall, the DHL Stormers have a good record in Australia, having won four of their last five matches Down Under, but they will have to give an improved performance against the Queensland side to secure success.
What they said:
DHL Stormers head coach Robbie Fleck said they are excited about what they can do at Suncorp Stadium on Friday: “We have had a good week of preparations here and the players are looking forward to the opportunity this weekend.”
Reds: 15 Hamish Stewart, 14 Filipo Daugunu, 13 Sefa Naivalu, 12 Samu Kerevi (captain), 11 Jack Hardy, 10 Bryce Hegarty, 9 Tate McDermott, 8 Scott Higginbotham, 7 Liam Wright, 6 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 5 Harry Hockings, 4 Izack Rodda, 3 Ruan Smith, 2 Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 1 JP Smith. Replacements: 16 Alex Mafi, 17 Harry Hoopert, 18 Taniela Tupou, 19 Angus Blyth, 20 Fraser McReight, 21 Moses Sorovi, 22 Duncan Paia’aua, 23 Isaac Lucas.
DHL Stormers: 15 Damian Willemse, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Ruhan Nel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Dillyn Leyds, 10 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 9 Justin Phillips, 8 Jaco Coetzee, 7 Kobus van Dyk, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Chris van Zyl, 4 Cobus Wiese, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Corne Fourie. Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Michael Kumbirai (DHL Stormers debut), 19 Salmaan Moerat, 20 Juarno Augustus, 21 Herschel Jantjies, 22 Joshua Stander, 23 SP Marais.
Head to head:
Reds won: 8
DHL Stormers: 12
Reds points: 466
DHL Stormers points: 496
Average score: 23-25
Date: Friday, 5 April
SA time: 11h00
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen
Assistant referees: AJ Jacobs, Nic Berry
Television Match Official: James Leckie
Mtawarira to claim SA record in Johannesburg derby
Springbok prop Tendai Mtawarira will set a new record for the most Vodacom Super Rugby matches by a South African player when the Cell C Sharks travel to Johannesburg to face the Emirates Lions on Friday evening.
Jozi’s Pride are preparing for a Cell C Sharks side itching to get back to winning ways after a couple of disappointing results. Kick off on Friday at Emirates Airline Park is 19h10.
The Emirates Lions welcome back Cyle Brink into their starting team for the evening derby clash. The tough-as-teak flanker missed seven months’ of action through a knee injury and his return to action will give the home side a significant boost. Brink comes into the side with Marnus Schoeman and Ruan Vermaak his loose trio partners.
Experienced centre Lionel Mapoe is set to make his 99th Vodacom Super Rugby appearance for Emirates Lions. Mapoe, who also played for the Toyota Cheetahs and Vodacom Bulls, joined the franchise in 2011 and has scored 29 tries to date. He will partner Springbok winger Aphiwe Dyantyi in an interesting midfield combination.
Mtawarira will start this important match and make history when he becomes the most-capped South African rugby player in Vodacom Super Rugby history, surpassing the mark of 156 appearances set by Adriaan Strauss (Vodacom Bulls, Toyota Cheetahs).
Meanwhile, the loss of Akker van der Merwe through suspension has forced a change to the Cell C Sharks’ front row, where 23-year-old Kerron van Vuuren starts at hooker, with Fez Mbatha drafted onto the bench. Curwin Bosch is also back in the starting team and trades places with Aphelele Fassi at fullback.
Emirates Lions coach Swys de Bruin believes this clash will be another tough battle between two determined local teams: “The Cell C Sharks showed in last week’s match against the Vodacom Bulls just how physical they are, and we will have to be prepared and front up to them. We have some interesting combinations for this match and I am looking forward to see how that will work out against a quality side.”
Robert du Preez, the Cell C Sharks coach, echoed De Bruin and he too expects a very tough derby match in Johannesburg: “All South African derbies are tight affairs. In fact, if you look at all matches over the last couple of weeks there has only been one or two points difference in some of those games. This match will be no different and they will be a huge challenge on the up on the Highveld.”
Emirates Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Tyrone Green, 13 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 12 Lionel Mapoe, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Ruan Vermaak, 7 Cyle Brink, 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Rhyno Herbst, 3 Carlu Sadie, 2 Malcolm Marx (captain), 1 Sti Sithole. Replacements: 16 Jan-Henning Campher, 17 Nathan McBeth, 18 Frans van Wyk, 19 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 20 Stephan Lewies, 21 Nic Groom, 22 Hacjivah Dayimani, 23 Sylvian Mahuza/Wandisile Simelane.
Cell C Sharks: 15 Curwin Bosch, 14 Lwazi Mvovo, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Louis Schreuder (captain), 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Jacques Vermeulen, 6 Luke Stringer, 5 Hyron Andrews, 4 Ruben van Heerden, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Kerron van Vuuren, 1 Tendai Mtawarira. Replacements: 16 Fez Mbatha, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 Thomas du Toit, 19 JJ van der Mescht, 20 Philip van der Walt, 21 Grant Williams, 22 Kobus van Wyk, 23 Aphelele Fassi.
Head to head:
Emirates Lions won: 9
Cell C Sharks won: 11
Emirates Lions points: 460
Cell C Sharks points: 521
Average score: 22-25
Date: Friday 5 April
SA time: 19h10
Venue: Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg
Referee: Mike Fraser
Assistant referees: Rasta Rasivhenge, Brendon Pickerill
Television Match Official: Willie Vos
Vermuelen handed captaincy for Loftus clash
Vodacom Bulls coach Pote Human made several tweaks to his line-up for Saturday’s Vodacom Super Rugby encounter against the Jaguares at Loftus Versfeld, where the kick-off is 15h05.
Manie Libbok takes over the flyhalf duties from Handre Pollard, Johnny Kotze starts at right wing while the resting of Springbok centre Jesse Kriel allows Dylan Sage to take the No 13 jersey. Jade Stighling also gets a chance at left wing in rotation with Rosko Specman.
Up front, Jannes Kirsten will start in the No 7 jersey and Hanro Liebenberg moves to lock. Corniel Els replaces the suspended Schalk Brits at hooker while experienced Springbok No 8 Duane Vermeulen takes over the captaincy from Pollard, who is rested.
What they said:
Vodacom Bulls skipper Duane Vermeulen said: “We were way under-par when we last played them so we owe ourselves a proper performance against the Jaguares. The South African Conference is so tight that we cannot afford another slip-up at home.”
Vodacom Bulls: 15 Divan Rossouw, 14 Johnny Kotze, 13 Dylan Sage, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Jade Stighling, 10 Manie Libbok, 9 Embrose Papier, 8 Duane Vermeulen (captain), 7 Jannes Kirsten, 6 Ruan Steenkamp, 5 Eli Snyman, 4 Hanro Liebenberg 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Corniel Els, 1 Lizo Gqoboka. Replacements: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Simphiwe Matanzima, 18 Conraad van Vuuren, 19 Thembelani Bholi, 20 Tim Agaba, 21 Ivan van Zyl, 22 JT Jackson, 23 Cornal Hendricks.
Head to head:
Vodacom Bulls won: 2
Jaguares won: 3
Vodacom Bulls points: 116
Jaguares points: 157
Average score: 23-31
Date: Saturday, 6 April
SA time: 15h05
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Referee: Brendon Pickerill
Assistant referees: Rasta Rasivhenge, Mike Fraser
Television Match Official: Willie Vos
Other Round 8 fixtures:
Friday, 5 April:
08h35: Highlanders vs Hurricanes – Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin
Saturday, 6 April:
06h15: Crusaders vs Brumbies – Christchurch Stadium, Christchurch
08h35: Blues vs Waratahs – Eden Park, Auckland
10h45: Rebels vs Sunwolves – AAMI Stadium, Melbourne