Etzebeth, out for the first half of the Super Rugby season with an ankle injury, comes in for De Kock Steenkamp, who has returned to South Africa after sustaining a sternum injury in the 18-17 loss to the Blues in Albany last week.
There are two changes to the bench, the one related to the enforced change at lock, with Don Armand coming in as the second row back-up for Etzebeth, who was among the replacements last week.
The only unenforced change in the match-day squad comes at outside back reserve, with Gerhard van den Heever displacing Damian de Allende.
The latter was poor when he came on against the Blues, but coach Allister Coetzee said the change was more related to the tactics the Stormers are anticipating from the Waratahs than any unhappiness with De Allende’s form.
“We feel continuity is important and after we’ve looked at the video we realise that where we went wrong was that we created enough opportunities but just couldn’t round off. This is an important game for us and it would would be risky to make too many changes for it, the idea is just to improve on last week,” said Coetzee.
“Eben Etzebeth comes in for an injured player, so the only real change is the return of Gerhard van den Heever, who we feel will bring the necessary experience for this game, particularly experience as a specialist wing.
"He brings balance to our back three options for this game. The Waratahs are a team that will probably kick behind us, as all the other teams have done, and Damian, who has played mostly centre, doesn’t have the experience that Gerhard has in dropping back to deal with the kicks.
“Our defence is very tight and most teams we play against kick behind us. Last week we even saw it from the Blues, who normally run a lot. The last three teams we have played against were the teams that kicked the least in the competition, and yet they changed tactics against us.
"We don’t need to change our defence system, we just need a bigger work-rate from everyone to combat the tactic.
“Our wings Bryan Habana and Gio Aplon have been getting back really well, and they are reading the situation superbly. And they have a crucial role to play as they need to run back to activate our defence mechanism.
"It’s hard work though, and that’s why we need Gerhard there. He will have a big role to play if one of the other players gets tired and has to be replaced.”
There had been speculation in the Cape media that Coetzee might be tempted to bring back Elton Jantjies, who is a Springbok, for this game, but he said that he had been happy with the progress made by Gary van Aswegen in the weeks that Jantjies, who is on the bench, was out injured.
“Gary has brought the steadiness in that position that we require and we scored two beautiful tries last week and created opportunities for several more. I think it is the right thing from a continuity viewpoint to keep Gary at No 1 0. But believe me, Elton will get another chance in due course,” said the coach.
DHL STORMERS:15. Joe Pietersen, 14. Gio Aplon,13. Juan de Jongh, 12. Jean de Villiers (captain), 11. Bryan Habana, 10. Gary van Aswegen, 9. Dewaldt Duvenage, 8. Duane Vermeulen, 7. Rynhardt Elstadt, 6. Siya Kolisi, 5. Andries Bekker, 4. Eben Etzebeth, 3. Frans Malherbe, 2. Deon Fourie, 1. Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16. Scarra Ntubeni, 17. Pat Cilliers, 18. Don Armand, 19. Nizaam Carr, 20. Louis Schreuder, 21. Elton Jantjies, 22. Gerhard van den Heever.
Scarra and Carr are not looking llike Super 15 quality. We shall see if this is so at some point.