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Stormers

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DHL StormersDHL Stormers coach Allister Coetzee has announced his team for Saturday’s Vodacom Super Rugby clash against the Melbourne Rebels at DHL Newlands (kick-off 19:10 SA Time), with SA Sevens star Seabelo Senatla named to start.

Senatla will start in the No 14 jersey – with Johnny Kotze missing out – in 1 of just 3 changes from the starting 15 that beat the Brumbies at DHL Newlands a fortnight ago.

DHL Stormers coach Allister Coetzee told the www.iamastormer.com website: “It’s great to welcome Seabelo back from SA Sevens duty, as he did for us last season (before also going on to play in the ABSA Currie Cup).

“He’s keen and excited to get stuck back in, as he said when he arrived back in the country, and Seabelo knows what we expect from him and why we have selected him – after all, he is quality player and he trained well today.

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Seabelo Senatla

Seabelo Senatla

Sevens superstar Seabelo Senatla is ready to pull on a Stormers jersey and says that, physically, there is nothing stopping him from turning out against the Melbourne Rebels at Newlands on Saturday.

The Blitzbokke arrived at Cape Town International airport on Tuesday after a disappointing end to their World Series season in London, but the attention was firmly on Senatla and his Super Rugby availability.

“Ja, physically I can play, there is nothing actually stopping me,” this year’s leading try scorer on the World Series circuit said.

On Monday the Stormers were investigating whether or not they would be shown any leniency from SANZAR with regards to the rule that uninjured players have to have been fielded at least 4 times by their franchise if they are to be allowed to play in the tournament playoffs. If that rule does indeed stand, then Senatla will have to play some part in Saturday’s match and the other 3 remaining fixtures to be able to feature in the playoffs, should the Stormers qualify.

But it is not that simple, and as keen as Senatla is to play, questions over his fitness will be answered by the Stormers medical experts.

Senatla is due to undergo a medical on Wednesday, and he is recovering from a hematoma on his thigh muscle.

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Allister Coetzee

Allister Coetzee

DHL Stormers coach Allister Coetzee has confirmed that he will be selecting both Duane Vermeulen and Schalk Burger for Saturday’s important Vodacom Super Rugby clash with the Melbourne Rebels at Newlands.

Both players are due for varying amounts of rest as per the rest agreement struck between the South African Rugby Union and franchise chief executives at the start of the year, and it was assumed that this might be a game where Coetzee would do it. Vermeulen has already rested 3 games and is due to sit out 1 more, while Burger has 2 stipulated rest games and he hasn’t been rested yet.

“Obviously it means that Schalk will have to sit out 2 of the 3 games that will come after this, and Duane will have to sit out 1, but we have decided that against the Rebels we want the strongest possible team,” said Coetzee.

“There is sometimes a bit of rust and hang-over after a bye, and we need to counter that, and to do that I have decided that we should have all hands on deck for this game so that we can avoid any potential pitfalls. There were quite a few problem areas that we identified before the break and which we have spoken about and are working on, and we need to build on the win against the Brumbies by beating the Rebels.”

The Stormers now have the edge in the race for South African conference honours as the Vodacom Bulls’ loss to the Blues in their 1st tour game leaves them only 1 Log point ahead of the Cape side after the same number of matches, but with the Stormers looking forward to a run of 3 successive home games.

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Pieter-Steph du Toit

Pieter-Steph du Toit

The Cell C Sharks appear to be winning the battle to retain the services of Cape bred Pieter-Steph du Toit, who has told Durban media that he is committed to the union that he says gave him his big break in rugby.

It has been an open secret for a while now that the Springbok lock, currently out injured, was in negotiations with the DHL Stormers. Until quite recently the Western Province union appeared to be winning the battle, with informed sources confirming that Du Toit, who is from Swartland farming stock, was nearly certain to make the move down the coast next season.

However, it is understood that the Sharks then fought quite hard with counter-offers and promises that a concerted effort will be made to get the structures in Durban rugby right, and in an interview with the Natal Mercury on Monday the lock said that while he couldn’t say what would happen in the longer term, he was committed to the Sharks for now.

Du Toit has been out injured for most of the past 2 seasons and appears to feel beholden to the patience and resources that the Sharks have committed to his medical rehabilitation.

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Seabelo Senatla

Seabelo Senatla

The Stormers have returned from their week off with no major injury concerns ahead of their Super Rugby clash against the Melbourne Rebels at DHL Newlands on Saturday (kick-off 19:10 SA Time).

Johnny Kotze sat out Monday’s afternoon session with a minor niggle, whie fellow wing Kobus van Wyk remains on track for the Lions match on 6 June.

Speaking ahead of the Rebels match, Coetzee told the Stormers’ official website:

“The Rebels have beaten the Crusaders and the Brumbies away this year, so it shows their capacity as a team. We’ve had a good bye, with 3 big games coming up at Newlands, but it’s all about this weekend and getting the victory.

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Jano Vermaak

Jano Vermaak

Springbok scrumhalf Jano Vermaak has signed a 2-and-a-half-year deal with Western Province Rugby and will be available for selection from 1 July, once he has completed his current club commitments in France.

The 30-year-old will make the move back to South Africa from French giants, Toulouse; joining Nic Groom, Louis Schreuder and Godlen Masimla as the senior scrumhalf options for the DHL Stormers and DHL Western Province.

The quicksilver Vermaak has won 3 Test caps for the Springboks, making his debut against Italy on 8 June 2013, before also featuring against the Wallabies and the All Blacks later that season.

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Vincent Koch

Vincent Koch

Star DHL Stormers prop Vincent Koch will not be available for Western Province in this year’s Currie Cup.

According to reports, Koch’s contract with the Pumas lasts until the end of 2016 and his home union has no intention of letting him go.

“He will play (Currie Cup rugby) for me in 2015 and 2016,” said Pumas president Hein Mentz.

“Our viewpoint is that we give players opportunities to improve. Therefore, we made Vincent available to the Stormers and Renaldo Bothma and Giant Mtyanda to the Sharks.

“Vincent was loaned to the Stormers because the Lions, our franchise partner, didn’t regard him as good enough.”

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Seabelo SenatlaThere appears to be an outside chance that Springbok Sevens flyer Seabelo Senatla may feature for the DHL Stormers in the closing stages of Vodacom Super Rugby.

The Blitzbokke finish off their 2014 / 2015 campaign in London later this week and Stormers coach Allister Coetzee says that he will investigate the option of having the speedy winger available for the last games of the round robin phase.

Senatla will have to play a couple of games to be eligible for the Finals Series that starts late in June, with the Stormers in a 3-way fight at the moment with the Vodacom Bulls and Emirates Lions to get that far.

The product of Welkom was a revelation on the wing for Western Province in last year’s ABSA Currie Cup and with the Stormers struggling to score tries this season – they have just one 4-try bonus point from their 12 matches so far – it would make sense for Coetzee to look at Senatla.

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Super RugbySupporters in Johannesburg and Cape Town were made to worry 1st before smiling as the Emirates Lions and DHL Stormers put away their Australasian opponents in an exciting round of Vodacom Super Rugby action.

The Cell C Sharks, in their 2nd match of their tour Down Under, also showed a lot of character and played with vigour, but in the end it wasn’t enough against a fired-up Hurricanes side in Wellington.

The table-toppers from New Zealand beat the Durbanites by 32 / 24 on Saturday morning but with less than 10 minutes to go, the result was still in the balance.

On Saturday afternoon, both the Emirates Lions and DHL Stormers had to fight their way back into contention after listless 1st-half performances.

The Gautengers trialled by 20 / 3 at the break, but played sublime rugby in the 2nd half and in the end beat the Highlanders by 28 / 23 in a very exciting match.

The excitement levels were not as high in Cape Town, where the DHL Stormers overturned a 16 / 9 halftime deficit into a 25 / 24 victory over the Australian Conference leaders, the Brumbies.

The 1st penalty goal of the match by Demetri Catrakilis, who kicked 20 points for the DHL Stormers, saw him move to 28 consecutive successful kicks at goal this season.

However, Catrakilis missed the next one, which would’ve seen him improve the record to 29. As it stands, the DHL Stormers flyhalf now shares the record with former Capetonian pivot Peter Grant (this is since 2002).

The Vodacom Bulls and Toyota Cheetahs had byes this weekend.

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Steven Kitshoff

Steven Kitshoff

Eben Etzebeth

Eben Etzebeth

Lock Eben Etzebeth is back from his enforced week of Springbok rest and he will be joined in the DHL Stormers pack by loosehead prop Steven Kitshoff for Saturday’s Vodacom Super Rugby clash against the Brumbies at DHL Newlands (Kick-Off 17:05 SA Time).

Etzebeth was rested from last week’s defeat to the Toyota Cheetahs in Bloemfontein as part of the South African Franchises’ agreement with SA Rugby, whilst Kitshoff was given a break as part of the DHL Stormers’ rotation policy.

Etzebeth will wear the No 4 shirt this weekend, with Kitshoff lining up at loosehead prop. Jean Kleyn drops down to bench after starting against the Cheetahs, whilst Manuel Carizza will start at No 5 in the absence of the injured Ruan Botha (ankle). Kitshoff, meanwhile, replaces Oli Kebble in the No 1 shirt with Alistair Vermaak remaining on the bench.

Vice-captain Juan de Jongh has been named at outside centre, but he has been bracketed with Huw Jones after suffering a hip pointer injury against the Cheetahs.

De Jongh has made a better recovery than initially anticipated, but will still be given until kick-off on Saturday. Jones will start at No 13 should De Jongh not be available, with Pat Howard set to come onto the bench.

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Stephen Larkham

Stephen Larkham

Steven Larkham has done his homework on the Stormers as he looks to turn the Brumbies’ season around with the clash at Newlands on Saturday, pointing out the lineout as an area of weakness.

The Brumbies and the Stormers are both coming off hard-fought derby losses which will put added pressure in the camps as they look to rectify that by preparing for their encounter in the Cape.

“It’s about focusing on your job and focusing on your game, we’ve done a fair bit of research on the Stormers and they are a dangerous outfit,” Larkham said at a press conference at their hotel in Cape Town on Tuesday.

There were 2 key areas of concern in the Stormers loss to the Cheetahs: Their lineout was poorly organised and executed, and miss-fired kicks at goal ended up costing them the game.

Since Manuel Carizza’s injury, the Stormers’ lineouts have fallen to pieces.

Ruan Botha called the shots in the set-piece on Saturday and it did not go down well, however when Eben Etzebeth was controlling the calls he did not do a much better job.

It can also partly be blamed on Bongi Mbonambi, who is no John Smit when it comes to hitting your jumpers. Scarra Ntubeni is once again, not much better in that regard.

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Ruan Botha

Ruan Botha

The DHL Stormers’ injury woes continue as lock Ruan Botha is the next casualty on the list of sidelined players.

Botha has been ruled out of this weekend’s Super Rugby meeting with the Brumbies at Newlands, whilst centre and vice-captain Juan de Jongh is an injury doubt.

Botha suffered an ankle ligament injury against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein last Saturday, as the Stormers went down 17 / 25.

Botha is in a moon boot and could be ruled out from 3 to 6 weeks. The team doctor is still to make a call on the length of his lay-off, but he has been ruled out for this week.

De Jongh is suffering from a hip pointer injury which saw him leave the field in the 23rd minute, and it is usually a 10-day injury.

Utility back Jaco Taute is available but the initial plan is for him to play 40 minutes for Western Province in the Vodacom Cup.

“Giving him (Taute) 40 minutes in the Vodacom Cup is the initial plan, but with our injuries at present we could slot him into the team against a quality Brumbies outfit,” said Stormers coach Allister Coetzee.

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DHL StormersBased on their last 3 performances, it may seem foolhardy to some to suggest the DHL Stormers retain the inside lane for the SA Conference honours in Super Rugby this year.

Certainly if you were a non-partisan observer watching their unconvincing, tense and sparkle-lacking victories over the Western Force and Vodacom Bulls, and then Saturday’s extension of a ballooning Bloemfontein bogey as an under-strength Cheetahs outfit put a nasty spanner in their works, placing money on their domestic superiority come the end of ordinary season might seem a risky business indeed.

Yet the Capetonians, now bumped back into 2nd spot in the South African Conference, as the Bulls earned a full house of Log Points from a high-quality home derby triumph over the Lions in Saturday night’s main feature, probably remain the best-placed team in terms of remaining itinerary demands to end up on top.

They have an immediate chance next weekend anyway to recapture the lead in a yo-yo tussle as they entertain Australian pace-setters the Brumbies at Newlands, whereas the Bulls slowly muster their energy for their overseas tour via a BYE.

The Loftus-based side currently have a 4-Point lead over their great southern rivals after 11 matches each and 5 to go ahead of the finals series phase.

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DHL StormersFit-again back Dillyn Leyds has been named in the DHL Stormers’ line-up for Saturday’s Vodacom Super Rugby clash against the Toyota Cheetahs in Bloemfontein (kick-off 17:05 SA Time).

Leyds slots back into the No 11 jersey after missing his team’s hard-fought 15 / 13 win over the Vodacom Bulls last Saturday because of a shoulder injury, with Pat Howard dropping out of the matchday 23 this week.

The return of Leyds is 1 of just 3 changes to the line-up that started against the Bulls, with prop Steven Kitshoff and lock Eben Etzebeth both being rested – the latter as part of the SA Franchise teams’ agreements with SA Rugby.

Oli Kebble will start in Kitshoff’s place (in his 1st start at this level, after 16 caps from the bench), whilst Jean Kleyn will make his 12th appearance in a DHL Stormers jersey when he lines up alongside Ruan Botha.

Prop Ali Vermaak and lock Manuel Carizza return to the matchday 23 this week (on the bench), whilst starting tighthead prop Frans Malherbe and replacement scrumhalf Louis Schreuder are both set to win their 50th caps for the DHL Stormers.

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DHL StormersThe DHL Stormers are up against the Toyota Cheetahs on the weekend, after narrowly beating the Vodacom Bulls this past weekend. They will be feeling the pinch of a bad run of lineout steals against them by the Bulls, but they have laid down a serious marker in beating the Bulls and again going Top of the South African Confernce, from where they have an excellent chance of winning the Conference.

They want to show serious intent on attack against the Cheetahs and score some tries, a thing which has been worryingly few and far between.

A number of their key players have stepped up nicely in 2015, none more so probably than Damian de Allende, who is being touted as the logical Springbok inside centre option at the Rugby World Cup, should Jean de Villiers not recover properly in time for the big showpiece. Duane Vermeulen is another key Stormers player and captain, and it appears that he is somewhat frustrated by the enforced Springbok rest schedule, agreed to between SARU, Springbok Management and the South African Super Rugby franchises.

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Eben Etzebeth

Eben Etzebeth

Steven Kitshoff

Steven Kitshoff

The DHL Stormers look likely to travel to Bloemfontein for their Vodacom Super Rugby clash with the Toyota Cheetahs without star forwards Eben Etzebeth and Steven Kitshoff.

Etzebeth is due a rest related to the agreement between the South African Rugby Union and franchise chief executives, and after playing 4 consecutive games, this is the time to do it.

Kitshoff has started every one of the 10 games that the Stormers have played this season and coach Allister Coetzee has for a while now been talking about the need to manage him, particularly now that the Stormers’ participation in the play-off stages is starting to look more likely.

“It will be a good thing to give Kitshoff a bit of a breather and get him ready for the rest of the competition,” said Coetzee.

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Super RugbyIt was a weekend of drama and excitement in South Africa as the DHL Stormers moved to the Top of the local Super Rugby Conference and the Emirates Lions kept alive their dream of reaching the Top 6.

The Emirates Lions beat the Toyota Cheetahs by 34 / 29 in an 8-try humdinger on Saturday afternoon to record their 6th victory of the season, making 2015 their 2nd best yet but with 6 Rounds to go.

Last year, the Emirates Lions finished with 7 wins, 2 better than their 5 from 2007, but they are on track to better their best in the coming weeks.

The Toyota Cheetahs also deserve a lot of credit for never giving up as they returned to Bloemfontein with 2 bonus points.

The 2nd local match on Saturday delivered heaps of drama and the result was in the balance right until the end, but the DHL Stormers hung on for their 2nd victory over the Vodacom Bulls this season as they won by 15 / 13.

The visitors from Pretoria scored the only try of the match when Bjorn Basson went over early in the 2nd half, but the match-clinching moment came at the death when Duane Vermeulen charged down an attempted drop-goal by Handré Pollard to lead his side to their 7th win of the season.

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Duane Vermeulen

Duane Vermeulen

Springbok No 8 Duane Vermeulen returns to lead the DHL Stormers in Saturday’s tantalising derby clash against the Vodacom Bulls, at DHL Newlands, Cape Town.

Vermeulen missed the final 2 weeks of the Stormers’ Super Rugby tour as part of the SA franchises’ rest agreement with SA Rugby, but his return marks 1 of 4 changes to the starting line-up that defeated the Western Force in Perth last Saturday.

2 Of the 4 changes are injury enforced, with Johnny Kotze and Pat Howard replacing the injured wing duo of Kobus van Wyk (knee – 6 weeks) and Dillyn Leyds (shoulder – 1 week), respectively. Howard will make his Super Rugby debut, with Kotze set to win his 6th cap.

Nizaam Carr moves to the bench to make way for Vermeulen’s expected return to action, whilst the 4th and final change sees Nic Groom take over at scrumhalf from Louis Schreuder, who, like Carr, reverts to the bench.

Joining Carr and Schreuder amongst the replacements is prop Oli Kebble, with Alistair Vermaak and Sikhumbuzo Notshe out of the matchday 23 and back to doing duty for the Western Province Vodacom Cup team this weekend.

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Kobus van Wyk

Kobus van Wyk

Hard-running Stormers wing Kobus van Wyk has been ruled out of action for 6 weeks, after picking up a patella injury against the Force last weekend.

Van Wyk limped off the field in the 29th minute of Saturday’s hard-fought clash in Perth and he will be unavailable until June.

Fellow wing Dillyn Leyds sat out training on Tuesday, but squad captain Duane Vermeulen – fresh off his 2-week rest period – rejoined squad training at the Stormers’ High Performance Centre in Bellville.

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Allister Coetzee

Allister Coetzee

The DHL Stormers are keeping their build-up to Saturday’s massive Vodacom Super Rugby derby against the Vodacom Bulls under wraps, with no open training sessions or press conferences scheduled until the team announcement on Thursday, but there shouldn’t be any secret to what the biggest selection dilemma will be this week.

To put it simply, coach Allister Coetzee needs to find a way to fit 4 inform Springbok loose-forwards into a winning loose trio. Up until the match against the Western Force, not all the loose-forwards were firing, as Nizaam Carr wasn’t repeating the excellent form that earned him a national call-up last year.

However, against the Western Force the No 8 hit his straps and regained his old confidence, delivering a busy and energetic performance that should have taken him close to the man of the match award. The Stormers were unlucky not to score a try off one particularly impressive run from Carr.

The problem for Coetzee, if you could call it that, is that skipper Duane Vermeulen has now completed his rest period that started when he travelled home at the halfway point of the 4 match overseas tour, meaning that he effectively missed 3 games in all as he was also rested for the 1st. Vermeulen should return to the back of the scrum for the Newlands clash, which will mean that Carr will have to be accommodated elsewhere.

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Super RugbyThe DHL Stormers finished their Australasian tour with a 2nd win while the Vodacom Bulls consolidated their position at the Top of the South African Conference as Vodacom Super Rugby 2015 entered the 2nd half of the season.

However, the Toyota Cheetahs and Cell C Sharks both lost at home as the teams from Pretoria and Cape Town opened up a bit of a gap in the local conference and the Vodacom Bulls moved up to 2nd on the overall log.

The DHL Stormers were made to work hard for a scrappy win in Perth on Saturday afternoon as they defeated the struggling Western Force by 13 / 6, the only 5-pointer of the encounter a Penalty Try to the visitors after yet another superb scrum. The win concluded their best Australasian tour in 3 years.

Back home, the Vodacom Bulls and Cell C Sharks delivered a typically hard local derby in Durban with the 3-time champions from Pretoria ultimately winning by 17 / 10, with each team scoring a solitary try.

The Toyota Cheetahs unfortunately could not build on their good win in Perth last weekend when they were beaten by 18 / 17 by the Reds in Bloemfontein.

Down Under, the defending champions – the Waratahs and the Chiefs recorded impressive victories in Wellington and Christchurch respectively.

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Kobus van Wyk

Kobus van Wyk

Right wing Kobus van Wyk is the only Stormers injury worry after Saturday’s Super Rugby win over the Force, having twisted his knee.

“Kobus went over his knee, it was an awkward sort of twist on his knee… but we will know more over the next 24 hours and will be able to say for sure when we get home,” said coach Allister Coetzee.

Accoridng to the Stormers’ website, the Stormers left Perth for South Africa on Sunday evening (local time). They arrived in Cape Town, via Johannesburg, on Monday morning (local time).

The players did not train on Monday, before starting preparations for next weekend’s home Bulls match (kick-off 19:10 SA Time) on Tuesday.

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DHL StormersBullsThe Bulls may hold a 2-point lead over the Stormers at the Top of the South African conference, but probably still need victory more than their hosts do in Saturday’s spicy Super Rugby derby at Newlands (19:10 SA Time).

Put it this way: if the Stormers repeat their 1st-round triumph at Loftus (29 / 17 then) they will become extremely firm favourites to win the conference.

As things stand, the Capetonians have 7 ordinary-season matches remaining, with 5 of them at home and only 2 away, whereas for the Bulls it is exactly the other way around – 2 at home and 5 away, including the formidable 4-game tour abroad.

So even if the Stormers lose to the old enemy on Saturday, they would still probably fancy their chances of leapfrogging the Loftus-based outfit at a later stage of the run-in.

Bear in mind that last season the Bulls failed to win a single fixture overseas, so they may require at least 2 this time if they are to thwart the Stormers’ own quest to end the local standings atop the pile.

At least 2 of the Australasian challenges facing the Bulls pretty soon will come from teams similarly pressing hard to make the playoff cut, in the form of the Chiefs and Brumbies (the other games will be against the Blues and Melbourne Rebels).

So it doesn’t take Einstein to work out that the Stormers’ remaining schedule – their own overseas trip now completed with a tidy enough haul of 10 points from a possible 20 – is by some way the more favourable.

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Bongi Mbonambi

Bongi Mbonambi

Head coach Allister Coetzee has announced 4 personnel changes to the DHL Stormers starting 15 ahead of their final 2015 Vodacom Super Rugby tour match on Saturday – against the Western Force in Perth (kick-off 13:45 SA Time).

Hooker Bongi Mbonambi, lock Ruan Botha, flanker Siya Kolisi and scrumhalf Louis Schreuder will all start this week, with prop Ali Vermaak and loose forward Sikhumbuzo Notshe the new faces on the bench.

Notshe joins the matchday 23 this week as a replacement for Kolisi, who will start at No 6 – with Schalk Burger moving across to No 7 – in the absence of Michael Rhodes, who flew home with a hamstring tear suffered against the Waratahs last weekend.

The only other injury-enforced change from the Waratahs game – won 32 / 18 by the DHL Stormers – is Botha in for Manuel Carizza in the No 5 jersey, with the latter still battling with a cut on the inside of his mouth.

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Schalk Burger receives the Laureaus World Comeback of the Year Award 2015

Schalk Burger receives the Laureaus World Comeback of the Year Award 2015

DHL Stormers and Springbok flank Schalk Burger has won the Laureus World Comeback of the Year Award at the ceremony in Shanghai on Wednesday.

Burger had a cyst next to his spinal cord and went into hospital for treatment, but developed life-threatening meningitis and was taken to intensive care. Miraculously, he battled for his life and returned to the sport he loves to win his place back in the Springbok rugby team.

Reflecting upon the most serious stage in his time in intensive care, Burger said: “I remember the day where my wife phoned and everyone said, listen, this is probably it, it’s time to say goodbye. I wasn’t ready to say goodbye.

“It was super scary if you think back now.

“But when you’re going through the middle of this and there’s no time to think really, there’s no time to think about consequences; it was pretty much just me versus something.”

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Pat Howard

Pat Howard

Western Province back Pat Howard has reportedly signed a deal with English Premiership club Northampton Saints.

While the news is yet to be officially announced, it is reported that Howard will leave the Cape union later this year.

The 23-year-old Howard, who can play wing and centre, is contracted with WP until 31 October.

This means he will in all likelihood be asked to stay until the end of this year’s Currie Cup.

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Michael Rhodes

Michael Rhodes

Utility forward Michael Rhodes will return home from the DHL Stormers’ Vodacom Super Rugby tour of Australasia after suffering a hamstring tear in his team’s 32 / 18 bonus point win over the Waratahs at the weekend.

The tough-tackling forward was forced to leave the field in the 33rd minute on Saturday and he now faces a 6 to 8 week lay-off – Rhodes’s 2nd injury blow of the season after picking up a knee injury against the Lions in late February.

Rhodes will be replaced in the DHL Stormers tour party by DHL Western Province Vodacom Cup star Sikhumbuzo Notshe, who left for Perth late on Sunday evening.

DHL Stormers boss Allister Coetzee told the www.iamastormer.com website: “Michael has a Grade 2 or 3 hamstring tear and will be out of action for at least 6 weeks.

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Super RugbyThe Vodacom Bulls held onto their leadership of a ferociously contested South African Conference on a weekend of success at the expense of Australian teams.

The Vodacom Bulls maintained their 2-point advantage over the DHL Stormers on the Log – as both recorded bonus point victories over the Reds (43 / 22) and Waratahs (32 / 18) respectively – while the Toyota Cheetahs showed enormous character to finish their tour on a high in Perth, with a win over the Western Force (24 / 15).

In the South African derby at Emirates Airlines Park, the Emirates Lions underlined the seriousness of their challenge for the Conference title with 2-point victory (23 / 21) over a significantly improved Cell C Sharks, who missed a long-range last-kick penalty, which could have snatched the victory.

The upshot of the weekend was that the Top 4 SA teams are separated by just 4 Log Points – in contrast to their fellow conferences where the Hurricanes top the standings as New Zealand’s Top 4 are spread by 11 points, while an even more clear-cut Australian race sees the Brumbies head a Log in which 17 points cover the Top 4 Australian contenders.

3 Of SA’s winners had to overcome halftime deficits to record victories, with the most notable being those of the DHL Stormers and Toyota Cheetahs who achieved it on Australian soil.

However, the margins were small – both trailed by 2 points – while the Emirates Lions turned round 3 points adrift of the Cell C Sharks, as all 3 teams showed fitness and character to ‘win’ the 2nd half.

In the other match, the Vodacom Bulls’ recent home success over the Reds continued, as they stomped to a 6-try victory, with Francois Hougaard scoring 2 tries from the wing to take his tally to 4 for the season and therefore joining Marcell Coetzee as the leading South African try scorers.

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Allister Coetzee

Allister Coetzee

An elated DHL Stormers coach Allister Coetzee heaped the praise on his coaching team and all the players in the aftermath of their excellent 32 / 18 Vodacom Super Rugby win over the defending champion Waratahs earlier today.

The DHL Stormers overturned a 13 / 15 half-time deficit to record their 1st tour win of 2015 against the reigning champs – also scoring 4 tries in the process in Sydney.

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