Regular captain and No 8 Duane Vermeulen is the only member of the DHL Stormers touring squad that will not be available for selection for Saturday’s opening game of the 4 day trip against the Highlanders at Dunedin’s Forsyth Barr Stadium.
Stormers coach Allister Coetzee has reported to the Cape rugby media via telephone conference hook-up that the squad has settled down well on the South Island in New Zealand – they are actually in the resort town of Queenstown currently – and that every player in the 27 man squad is fully fit and ready to play.
That means that Louis Schreuder, who was concussed against the Chiefs in the last match, has passed his cognitive tests, while big lock Eben Etzebeth and the inform blindside flank Michael Rhodes have both recovered from the injuries that have kept them out of the last few Stormers games.
Vermeulen is the significant absentee at training at present because he has been granted a rest as per the agreement between SARU and the franchise chief executives over the management of the national players. The 2014 SA Player of the Year will sit out the Dunedin clash but be ready to play against the Hurricanes the following week.
The touring party arrived in Queenstown (their base for this week) on Monday morning (NZ time) and they had 2 training sessions on Tuesday – a full session and a split one – before settling in in front of the television to watch the Proteas in their Cricket World Cup semifinal.
“We would love to start the tour on a good note as we did in 2012 (against the Highlanders) as it gave us momentum and the necessary belief to get more results away from home,” said Coetzee.
“We have a good understanding of what we need to do against the Highlanders on Saturday, but we know they’re a good team that does a lot right which puts their opposition under pressure.”
“Everyone is looking good,” commented Coetzee, “Eben and Mike trained flat-out and Louis passed all his concussion tests before the touring party left South Africa on Saturday. We have some options at loose forward, with Duane being rested, but we have a few days to mull over that before announcing our team.”