Conrad Jantjes and JD Moller could be fit this week to boost the Stormers’ selection options for what is shaping as a Super 14 survival battle against the Lions at Newlands on Saturday.
After Saturday’s 10-14 defeat to the Bulls, the Stormers have lost three of their first four games. However, they only trail the Hurricanes by seven points, who are currently fourth on the log.
Stephen Nell writes for Die Burger that while the situation leaves the Capetonians with their backs to the wall with regards to making the semi-finals, it is not quite out of the question. This week nothing but a victory will do because it’s starting to boil down to a battle of survival.
The Stormers have a bye after Saturday and then tour for five weeks, with games against the Crusaders, Waratahs, Brumbies, Hurricanes and Highlanders awaiting them.
That’s a tough ask in anyone’s book, but coach Rassie Erasmus will take heart from the fact that his team travels well and that there is a dip in standards among the overseas sides. The Crusaders, who earned a bonus point on Saturday by losing 0-6 to the Highlanders, are a good example.
“I can’t tell you whether we are in or out. We hope to beat the Lions this week and the Crusaders after that,” said Erasmus.
“Unfortunately we are under pressure because we have only won one out of four games. In all four those games we had opportunities to win or draw. I take that positive, but also accept that we are now with our backs to the wall.
“I think we will have opportunities in all our remaining games to win. We then have to hold onto that last pass or succeed with the important kick at goal.
“The Sharks and Bulls are the two best sides in the competition and we have played them both.”
Erasmus has a few difficult calls to make. Peter Grant’s inclusion in Willem de Waal’s place at flyhalf may lead to more attacking options in the backline. The tactic with De Waal nearly worked a charm at Loftus, but the Stormers will probably endeavour to be more creative from the outset against the Lions.
Deon Fourie scored an important try as replacement hooker and can be considered for the starting line-up. However, Schalk Brits’s experience and good throwing in at the lineouts may settle the argument in his favour.
Schalk Burger, Adriaan Fondse and Sireli Naqelevuki may also return to the starting line-up.
Jantjes is definitely an option at fullback in place of Percy Montgomery, though Wicus Blaauw performed well at loosehead prop in Moller’s absence.Tweet