DHL Stormers

James Hook

James Hook

StormersCell C SharksThe Stormers and Sharks have reportedly shown interest in acquiring the services of Welsh flyhalf James Hook.

Hook, 28, is currently contracted with French club Perpignan but is expected to leave them after they were relegated from the Top 14. He has an opt-out clause in his contract which allows him the option to leave if they lose their top-flight status.

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Frans Malherbe

Frans Malherbe

DHL StormersSpringbok tighthead prop Frans Malherbe is unlikely to make his return to the DHL Stormers team for Saturday’s Vodacom Super Rugby derby against the Toyota Cheetahs at Newlands.

While Jean de Villiers will definitely be back to lead the team and Schalk Burger and Sailosi Tagicakibau were both training on Monday, coach Allister Coetzee has confirmed that Malherbe was still showing symptoms of concussion the last time he was tested and will sit out the recommended full three weeks for concussion.

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Jean de VilliersThe DHL Stormers, fresh off their 24-8 win over the Force at the weekend, were further boosted on Monday with some good news in the injury department.

The Men from the Cape will host the Cheetahs in Cape Town this coming Saturday and the likes of Oli Kebble, Schalk Burger, Jean de Villiers and Sailosi Tagicakibau will be considered for selection once again.

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Super RugbyCheetahsStormersCell C SharksSaturday’s three Vodacom Super Rugby matches involving the Cell C Sharks, DHL Stormers and Toyota Cheetahs ended in a whitewash for the South African teams as they all recorded good victories.

The Cell C Sharks consolidated their spot at the top of the Vodacom Super Rugby log with a superb 30-25 victory over the in-form Crusaders in Christchurch – the first defeat for the team from Canterbury in New Zealand since 2001 against South African opposition and also the maiden victory for a team from the Republic in the Land of the Long White Cloud this season.

The Durbanites became the first South African team to ever in Christchurch since the franchise system was put in place in 1998.

It was only the second time a SA team managed to beat the Crusaders in Christchurch, when Northern Transvaal won there in 1996, and the third time out of 46 matches that the seven-time Vodacom Super Rugby champions lost at home to a team from the Republic – the Cats beat the Crusaders in Nelson in 2001.

The Crusaders also drew twice at home to teams from South Africa in the early years of Super 12, in 1996 against Western Province and in 1997 against the Sharks.

Later on Saturday afternoon, the DHL Stormers won their third successive home game of 2014 when they easily beat the high-flying Force by 24-8 in Cape Town, outscoring their visitors by three tries to one – ironically the same try count as in the Sharks/Crusaders match.

Saturday ended in ecstasy for the Toyota Cheetahs as they managed to beat the Brumbies for the first time since 2011 when they won this replay of their 2013 qualifier by 27-21, thanks mainly to a very good second half performance.

On Sunday morning, the Lions started very well against the Waratahs in Sydney, but the home team had too much left in the second half and eventually won this match by 41-13.

The Vodacom Bulls, currently second in the South African Conference behind the Cell C Sharks, had a bye this weekend.

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Peter GrantDHL StormersPeter Grant will start at flyhalf for the DHL Stormers – against the Force at DHL Newlands on Saturday (kick-off 17:05 SA Time) – in what will be his 100th match for the Vodacom Super Rugby franchise.

Grant moves from inside centre to the No 10 shirt in one of five changes to the starting line-up that went down 12-28 to the Bulls in Pretoria last weekend and will become just the third-ever DHL Stormers Super Rugby centurion.

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Demetri CatrakilisKobus van WykStormersThe Stormers have been boosted by the news that Demetri Catrakilis and Kobus van Wyk have been cleared for selection ahead of their Super Rugby match against the Western Force at Newlands on Saturday.

Catrakilis has not played since breaking his nose against the Lions on 19 April, whilst Van Wyk’s wrist injury – suffered against the Highlanders on 3 May – has healed a lot quicker than initially anticipated.

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Scarra NtubeniStormersScarra Ntubeni fractured a metatarsal in his left foot as the DHL Stormers suffered a 12-28 away defeat to the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday evening.

The Springbok tourist – who was out of action for a few weeks with a calf-muscle injury earlier in the tournament – is now set for a minimum lay-off of at least eight weeks.

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Special EditionStormersSharksLionsCheetahsBullsThis is the last article in the 3-part series where we run the rule over team performances so far and take a look at the chances of teams as we enter the final stretch of the regular season.

We conclude with the South African Conference, who are positioned as the bottom performing country overall, with 4 teams in the bottom 6 at present.

SUMMARY: While the Sharks fly the SA flag and have established the 1st major break at the top of the table, now 5 points clear, only the Bulls have any chance of joining Jake White’s team in the knockout stage of the season.

The Lions’ promising start has been tarnished, the Cheetahs record season last year is a distant memory, while the Stormers haven’t been so far down the table since 1996.

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Schalk BurgerDHL Stormers captain Schalk Burger says he is happy to take the underdog tag with his team to Loftus for Saturday’s Vodacom Super Rugby derby against the Vodacom Bulls, but is not writing off the chances of his inexperienced side causing an upset.

The Stormers are going to Pretoria with a much changed match day squad following two separate waves of injuries that have decimated them this week. On Monday it was announced that the likes of regular skipper Jean de Villiers, loosehead prop Steven Kitshoff, wing Kobus van Wyk, reserve lock Jurie van Vuuren and possibly tighthead prop Frans Malherbe would be missing because of injury.

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Schalk BurgerDHL StormersExperienced flanker Schalk Burger will captain a much-changed and young DHL Stormers team in Saturday’s all-South African Vodacom Super Rugby Derby against the Bulls in Pretoria (kick-off 19:10 SA Time).

Coach Allister Coetzee has been forced into making 6 enforced changes to the starting line-up, with 3 players on debut in the matchday 23 – lock Jean Kleyn in the starting line-up and prop Alistair Vermaak and scrumhalf Dylon Frylinck on the bench.

There are also 6 new faces on the bench, with Steven Kitshoff (knee), Frans Malherbe (concussion), Oli Kebble (concussion), Jurie van Vuuren (shoulder), Michael Rhodes (assortment of knocks), Louis Schreuder (broken thumb), Jean de Villiers (AC Joint) and Kobus van Wyk (wrist) all dropping out with an assortment of injuries after last weekend’s 29-28 win over the Highlanders.

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Super RugbyThree wins and only one defeat against Australasian opposition meant the last round of Vodacom Super Rugby was the best weekend from a South African perspective since round two earlier this year.

However, two of the three wins in the second round were in local derbies. This weekend, only the Vodacom Bulls’ victory over the Toyota Cheetahs was an all-South African affair as the Cell C Sharks and the DHL Stormers clinched victories over Australasian opponents.

In fact, the Cell C Sharks broke a losing run of 13 matches in Australasia for the South African franchises (this includes the Toyota Cheetahs’ defeat in their 2013 Qualifier against the Brumbies in Canberra) when they beat the Rebels by 22-16 in Melbourne on Friday morning.

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BullsStormersAfter getting back to winning ways on Saturday when the Vodacom Bulls beat the Toyota Cheetahs at Loftus Versfld, by 26 / 21, the Bulls are keen to continue this trend when they meet the injury-decimated DHL Stormers on Saturday at Loftus Versfeld, at 19:10 SA Time.

A traditional North-South derby always makes for excitement and the Bulls will have to be at their best against a Stormers side which has seen some dramatic improvements in recent weeks.

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DHL StormersThe DHL Stormers are searching for a lock from outside the region to help them through the current crisis.

But just who the Stormers will target to come in to provide a temporary solution to the problems that have been caused by injuries and the departure for Japan of Andries Bekker is difficult to ascertain for there is not a lot out there and an approach to former Western Province lock Quinn Roux, now playing in Ireland, never went anywhere.

EP Kings lock Steve Sykes, a former Sharks stalwart, has also turned down the Stormers on the basis that he wants to commit himself fully to his province’s entry into the Premier Division of the Absa Currie Cup later in the year.

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Scarra NtubeniSailosi TagicakibauDHL StormersHooker Scarra Ntubeni and wing Sailosi Tagicakibau are back in the selection frame for the Stormers ahead of this coming weekend’s home Super Rugby clash against the Highlanders, the Stormers’ official website reports.

Ntubeni has not featured for the Stormers since their tour-opener against the Crusaders back in early March, but his return – along with Tagicakibau’s – will be a major boost to his team.

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Allister CoetzeeJean de VilliersSchalk BurgerDHL StormersOn the weekend, the battling Stormers had reason to smile again after they returned to winning ways against the Lions.

Allister Coetzee, head coach declared he was happy with the win.

Jean de Villiers revealed he defied instructions from the coach to play defensive when they had a 15-point lead.

Schalk Burger and Oli Kebble will be back this weekend, returning from injury, while Pat Cilliers and Demetri Catrakilis is sidelined with injuries.

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Allister CoetzeeDHL StormersAllister Coetzee believes the Stormer’s gameplan does not need adjusting and in fact, a return to the basics will give them some winning momentum.

The Cape Town-based team have lost five games in a row, including all four tour games as well as their opening match against upcoming opponents, the Lions.

The Stormers have never been miles away from a win in any of these games, making Coetzee believe that small tweaks in the basics of the game is what is needed to turn around their fortunes.

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