Springbok inside centre Damian de Allende will line up in the No 12 jersey for the DHL Stormers, as the men from the Cape open their 2015 Vodacom Super Rugby campaign against the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday (19:10 SA Time).
De Allende is one of 3 Springboks in the DHL Stormers’ starting 15, whilst fit-again loose forward Nizaam Carr has been named on the bench to take the squad tally of Springboks to 4.
In all, there are 6 DHL Stormers debutants in the matchday squad, 3 in the starting 15 and 3 on the bench, with wings Johnny Kotze and Dillyn Leyds and tighthead prop Vincent Koch the new faces in the run-on side.
The new faces on the bench are hooker Bongi Mbonambi – who, of course, has Super Rugby experience with the Bulls – tighthead prop Wilco Louw and outside back Huw Jones.
Both Kotze and Leyds are graduates of the WP Rugby Institute and cup-winning DHL WP Under 21 set-ups, with Leyds having had a brief taste of Super Rugby in the colours of the Western Force in 2014.
Skipper Duane Vermeulen will lead the team from the No 8 position in a match which DHL Stormers head coach Allister Coetzee has described as a “tough assignment” and a “great challenge”.
“It is a tough assignment,” Coetzee told www.iamastormer.com, “but it’s been done before.”
The DHL Stormers will start their season on the Highveld for the 3rd year in a row – having played away to the Bulls in 2013 and the Lions in 2014 – and Coetzee added: “This is a great Bulls team – jam-packed with Springboks.
“It’s a great challenge for us, but we have prepared well and, most importantly, the players are comfortable in their roles and with their responsibilities in the team and, of course, the expectations placed on them.
“We’re looking forward to getting our campaign underway after a good pre-season and, as everyone knows, there’s no greater challenge than facing the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld – be it your first game or your last game of the season.”
DHL Stormers: 15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Johnny Kotze, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Dillyn Leyds, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Duane Vermeulen (Captain), 7 Michael Rhodes, 6 Rynhardt Elstadt, 5 Ruan Botha, 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Siyabonga Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff
Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Oli Kebble, 18 Wilco Louw, 19 Jurie van Vuuren, 20 Nizaam Carr, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Kurt Coleman, 23 Huw Jones.
Date: Saturday 14 February
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Kick-Off: 19:10 SA Time (17:10 GMT)
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant Referees: Jaco van Heerden (South Africa), Stephan Geldenhuys (South Africa)
TMO: Johan Greeff (South Africa)