The make-up of the Stormers loose trio for this year’s Super 14 has “definitely not” been decided yet, so Sunday’s warm-up clash with English club Saracens at Newlands could provide coach Rassie Erasmus with some answers in that regard.
The Cape Times reports that Erasmus will have the luxury of calling upon several quality loose forwards this year, with former Cheetahs star Duanne Vermeulen’s arrival in the Cape creating much conjecture around who would fill up the three loose-forward spots.
Erasmus also has Springboks Schalk Burger and Luke Watson available, while Francois Louw was a consistent performer during last year’s competition. “We have definitely not decided yet on who will make up the loose trio for the Super 14,” Stormers assistant coach Gary Gold told the Cape Times yesterday.
“Duanne has joined us and is in the mix like the other guys. He is able to play in all three positions in the loose trio. I won’t say that Luke is only a No 8. He has all the skills to play in any loose-trio position.
“It doesn’t matter really what number there is on the jersey for guys like Luke and Duanne.”
Another loose forward, 19-year-old Nick Koster, will be considered at wing in the Super 14. Gold said that Koster’s switch in position will allow Erasmus to at least keep him involved. “We have a lot of seasoned campaigners there, so it would have meant us having several injuries for Nick to play,” he said.
“But he is a talented player and we want him to be involved. He was also a 100m and 200m record-holder at school, so he is quick enough. We have Tondie (Chavhanga) and Sireli (Naqelevuki) there, with Wylie as back-up. Nick will cover us.”
Gold said that he has been highly impressed with Hilton Lobberts’s efforts at training during the pre-season.
“Hiltie has been fantastic. He is working hard, has a wonderful attitude and is very fit,” he said. “He has also been frighteningly physical, which is always a good thing. But he needs more time to settle at lock.”
Tighthead prop Brian Mujati, who is nursing a shoulder injury, is still in doubt, although Gold said he did complete a scrumming session yesterday.
Meanwhile, Saracens director of rugby Eddie Jones on Tuesday included former Bok and Stormers tighthead Cobus Visagie in the starting line-up.
Former Bok flank Wikus van Heerden will also start, while ex-Sharks star Brad Barritt will play at inside centre. The Stormers name their team on Wednesday.
Chris Wyles, Kameli Ratuvou, Ben Jacobs, Brad Barritt, Richard Haughton, Glen Jackson, Justin Marshall, Ben Skirving, Wikus Van Heerden, Chris Jack (capt), Tom Ryder, Hugh Vyvyan, Cobus Visagie, Andy Kyriacou, Nick Lloyd.
Bench (from): Don Barrell, Matt Cairns, Kris Chesney, Andy Farrell, Cencus Johnston, Jordan Mitchell, Rodd Penney, Gordon Ross, Dave Seymour, Hayden Smith, Kevin Sorrell, Harry Spencer, Edd Thrower, Alex Walker, Mickey Wilson.