As the South African Super 14 franchises scramble to secure quality depth at tighthead prop – a position of real weakness in the game today – JD Moller has become just the latest player to switch over from the loosehead side.
Moller will wear the number 3 jersey for a Stormers fringe side as they take on UCT in a practice match on Saturday. More comfrotable in the number 1 jersey, Moller will apparently focus on turning himself into an option on either side of the scrum this season as he attempts to reclaim a position in the Stormers starting lineup. Wicus Blaauw and Brok Harris would appear to have the inside track to the starting prop berths as things stand.
Powerful Lions loosehead Heinke van der Merwe will also get some gametime at 3 this year, although head coach Dick Muir concedes that his development as a tighthead will not take precedence over the needs of the team this season – despite what Peter de Villiers might want. Expect to see Kevin Buys, one of the finds of last year’s Currie Cup, start the season in the Lions number 3 jersey, with van der Merwe a more regular fixture on the other side.
Bucking the trend, as always, the Sharks will apparently try to turn Jannie du Plessis from a pure tighthead into a player capable of doing a job on the loosehead side as well.
Turning back to the Stormers, though, the side announced for Saturday’s warmup will feature SA Under 20 pivot Lionel Cronje in the number 10 shirt, partnered with veteran halfback Bolla Conradie. Former Sharks age-group flank Jacques Potgeiter is on the bench, having come to the attention of the Stormers brainstrust while playing a starring role for the Mighty Elephants in last year’s Currie Cup.
Stormers: 15 Fabian Juries, 14 Sireli Naqelevuki, 13 Frikkie Welsh, 12 Paul Bosch, 11 JJ Engelbrecht, 10 Lionel Cronjé, 9 Bolla Conradie, 8 Pieter Louw, 7 Hilton Lobberts, 6 Pieter Myburgh, 5 Anton van Zyl, 4 Rynhardt Elstadt, 3 JD Moller, 2 Callie Visagie, 1 JC Kritzinger.
Replacements – from: Sydney Tobias, Hein van der Merwe, Eusebio Guinazu, Martin Muller, Conraad Brits, Jacques Potgieter, Louis Schreuder, Jurgen Visser, Morné Hanekom, Johann Sadie.