SA Sevens ace set for Stormers debut
Springbok flank Schalk Burger will captain the Stormers in Saturday's Super Rugby derby against the Bulls at Newlands, whilst SA Sevens speedster Seabelo Senatla has been named on the bench.
Burger missed his team’s 21-19 win over the Sharks at the end of May with a neck injury but he took a full part in the Springboks’ June Test Series against the World XV, Wales and Scotland and makes a welcome return for the Stormers this week.
The return of Burger in the number 7 jersey is one of six changes to the starting line-up that did duty against the Sharks – three of them being positional. The positional switches see Juan de Jongh (outside centre to inside centre) and Sailosi Tagicakibau (left wing to outside centre) team up in the midfield, with Cheslin Kolbe moving from the right wing to left wing.
There are also three new faces on the bench in the form of the fit-again pairing of hooker Tiaan Liebenber and scrum-half Louis Schreuder, whilst SA Sevens and former SA U20 ace Senatla comes in for his first taste of Super Rugby.
Senatla will be available for the Stormers for the next two weeks, having signed a twin deal with WP Rugby and SA Rugby, before he joins up with the South African team for the Commonwealth Games later this month.
Last, but certainly not least, Newlands crowd favourite Gio Aplon will make his return to action from a dislocated elbow in the number 14 jersey. Aplon – who will leave for France after the Super Rugby season – has not played since injuring his elbow against the Reds on March 29.
“An injury to Kobus van Wyk (calf muscle) has opened the door for us to select Seabelo Senatla – it’s an exciting selection for us and the player," Stormers coach Allister Coetzee told www.iamastormer.com
“At the same time Gio Aplon’s return is timely and he will slot back into the wing position and provide the necessary experience for youngsters like Seabelo and Cheslin Kolbe to flourish around him.
“Juan de Jongh will be closer to the action at No.12, but we’re also excited to see how Sailosi Tagicakibau goes at outside centre. He has played there for London Irish and he has trained well this week and give us an extra attacking force in our backline.”
The Stormers went down 12-28 to the Bulls in Pretoria on May 10 – their only Super Rugby defeat that month – and Coetzee added: “Stormers-Bulls games are always hard-fought and memorable encounters and this will be no different.
“Both teams have come off a break and both sides have had players playing for the Springboks, but you don’t have to ask any player twice to get himself up for a game of this nature!”
Stormers:15 Jaco Taute, 14 Gio Aplon, 13 Sailosi Tagicakibau, 12 Juan de Jongh, 11 Cheslin Kolbe, 10 Kurt Coleman, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Schalk Burger (c), 6 Nizaam Carr, 5 Ruan Botha, 4 Michael Rhodes, 3 Pat Cilliers, 2 Deon Fourie, 1 Alistair Vermaak.
Replacements: 16 Tiaan Liebenberg, 17 Sti Sithole, 18 Martin Dreyer, 19 Manuel Carizza, 20 Siya Kolisi, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Peter Grant, 23 Seabelo Senatla.
Date: Saturday, July 5
Venue: Newlands, Cape Town
Kick-off: 17.05 local time (15.05 GMT)
Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)