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Stormers

Cheslin Kolbe

Cheslin Kolbe

There’s a lot of fuss being made in the Cape about where Cheslin Kolbe should be deployed in the DHL Stormers team following Nick Mallett’s comments from the Supersport studio that he should perhaps play scrumhalf because of his size.

There has also been some hysterical overreaction to the attention paid to Kolbe by Cell C Sharks centre Frans Steyn in the coastal derby last weekend.

However, when it comes to the player himself, and the management who decide where he plays, it is a case of all calm on the western front. Kolbe knows he is playing a physical sport where the gladiatorial attitude prevails, and that opposition targeting you just comes with the territory in rugby and can actually be seen as a compliment.

As for the coaches, they don’t agree with critics who, because they believe Kolbe is not featuring as much on the counter-attack as he did during last year’s Currie Cup, feel that he is not himself at present.

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Eben Etzebeth

Eben Etzebeth

The Stormers are sweating over the availability of Eben Etzebeth after the Springbok lock injured his shoulder in their 29 / 13 Super Rugby win over the Sharks at Newlands last weekend.

“Lock Eben Etzebeth took a bang on his shoulder against the Sharks which has affected his previous (chest) injury a bit, which is normal for 2 injuries in such close proximity. He is a bit uncomfortable and a call will be made on his participation later this week,” read a statement on the Stormers’ official website.

Etzebeth missed the entire 2014 Super Rugby season with an ankle injury, and was sidelined for the first 3 games on this year’s campaign following a chest injury sustained in pre-season.

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Michael Rhodes

Michael Rhodes

Saracens are delighted to announce the signing of Michael Rhodes from the Stormers.

Michael Rhodes, the Stormers and Western Province forward, will join Saracens at the start of next season, adding South African power to the wolf pack.

Mark McCall, Director of Rugby, said: “We have some time ago identified Michael as a player who could  make significant contribution to the squad, playing in the second row or the back row, carrying the ball and we are confident we can provide an environment where he will realise his full potential. We’re delighted he will be joining us next season.”

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Sam Cane

Sam Cane

The Chiefs may have felt they deserved to win against the Highlanders after dominating play, but that is behind them as they now focus on their tour to South Africa.

The Chiefs next match is away in Cape Town against the undefeated DHL Stormers on 14 March, they then travel up the coast to Durban to take on the Cell C Sharks in what is sure to be a tough tour.

The South Africa opposition does not end there as their 1st fixture back home is to the traveling Cheetahs.

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DHL Stormers vs Cell C Sharks

The DHL Stormers remained unbeaten and still Top of the South African Conference, by defeating the Sharks 34 / 13 in a feisty derby.

A super solo score by Johnny Kotze and a Penalty Try against Springbok scrumhalf Cobus Reinach, wrapped up a deserved win for the Stormers, their 4th of the season.

It’s early days but the Stormers now look like South Africa’s best hope of a Super Rugby title in 2015, based on their start to the year and the questionable form of their rivals.

When it mattered, their growing composure shone through in Cape Town, undaunted by the larger number of Springboks in the Sharks’ ranks.

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Schalk Burger

Schalk Burger

Eben Etzebeth and Schalk Burger have both been named in the DHL Stormers’ 23-man squad for Saturday’s all-South African Vodacom Super Rugby clash against the Sharks at DHL Newlands (kick-off 19:10 SA Time, 17:10 GMT).

Etzebeth picked up a chest injury during pre-season action in late January and will make his first competitive appearance for the DHL Stormers since July 2013, whilst Burger, named on the bench, is back in the selection mix after returning from his club rugby commitments in Japan.

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Super RugbyThe Toyota Cheetahs, Vodacom Bulls and DHL Stormers were victorious in 3 terrific Vodacom Super Rugby matches, as the competition really took off in the 3rd Round.

On Friday evening, the Toyota Cheetahs sneaked home against the Blues in Bloemfontein, winning their 2nd match of the season by 25 / 24 to remain 1 of only 4 unbeaten teams in 2015.

Saturday saw 2 local derbies of the highest calibre, with Test-like intensity. Mirrroing the encounter in Bloemfontein, the results of both these matches were in the balance right until the end.

The Vodacom Bulls prodcued their maiden win of the season when they beat the Cell C Sharks by 43 / 35 in a superb match in Pretoria. Then the DHL Stormers clocked their 3rd win from 3 matches when they beat the Emirates Lions by 22 / 19 in Johannesburg.

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Michael Rhodes

Michael Rhodes

The injury list for the DHL Stormers is growing following the addition of 3 more players after the hard won victory over the Lions at Ellis Park on Saturday.

Locks Jurie Van Vuuren, Ruan Botha and Flank Michael Rhodes all picked up injuries and will be assessed in the coming days.

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Nizaam Carr

Nizaam Carr

Forwards Bongi Mbonambi and Nizaam Carr have been named in the DHL Stormers starting 15 for Saturday’s Vodacom Super Rugby clash against the Lions at Emirates Airlines Park (kick-off 19:10 SA Time, 17:10 GMT).

Mbonambi will make his first start for the DHL Stormers in a rotational change at hooker, with Scarra Ntubeni reverting to the bench, whilst Springbok loose forward Carr comes in for the injured Rynhardt Elstadt in the No 6 jersey.

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Rynhardt Elstadt

Rynhardt Elstadt

Stormers flank Rynhardt Elstadt has officially been ruled out of action for at least 4 months – one of several players that will miss the trip to Johannesburg for an encounter with the on Saturday.

The loose forward suffered a leg fracture and further damage to his ankle in the win over the Blues at the weekend.

Elstadt left the field in the 37th minute, after falling awkwardly.

His injury – officially described as a maisonneuve fracture – will see him sidelined for at least 4 months.

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DHL StormersThe DHL Stormers got their 2nd win of the season, a 27 / 16 triumph over the Blues at a sun-bathed Newlands on Saturday.

It is a win that will be both celebrated and loathed.

The celebration will be for the 4 points on the standings. The negative side will be because the Blues were reduced to 14 men for 55 minutes and the home team should have won by a much larger margin.

The game was turned on its head in the 25th minute, when veteran Blues lock Hayden Triggs was spotted punching Stormers captain Duane Vermeulen – not once, but twice – and Red-carded, leaving his team a man down for a large chunk of the match.

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Hayden Triggs Red Carded for punching Duane Vermeulen

Hayden Triggs Red Carded for punching Duane Vermeulen

Veteran Blues lock Hayden Triggs will front up to a SANZAR disciplinary hearing, after he received a Red Card for punching during his team’s Super Rugby loss to the Stormers.

Triggs stands accused of having contravened Law 10.4 (a): Punching or striking.

It follows an incident that occurred in the 24th minute of the match between the DHL Stormers and Blues at Newlands in Cape Town on Saturday.

The case is to be considered in the first instance by SANZAR duty judicial officer Robert Stelzner.

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Jurie van Vuuren

Jurie van Vuuren

The DHL Stormers have announced just 1 change to the starting team for their 1st home match of the 2015 Vodacom Super Rugby season, against the Blues at DHL Newlands on Saturday (17:05 SA Time).

Having opened their campaign with a clinical 29 / 17 win over the Bulls in Pretoria last weekend, DHL Stormers head coach Allister Coetzee has wisely kept the changes to a minimum.

In an enforced change, however, No 4 lock Jean Kleyn misses out with a hamstring injury, handing a start to fellow young gun and lock-cum-flank Jurie van Vuuren – after the latter came off the bench at Loftus Versfeld.

In a further change to the 23-man squad that played away last Saturday, fit-again Springbok loose forward Siya Kolisi comes in for Van Vuuren in the No 19 shirt – meaning Michael Rhodes and Rynhardt Elstadt will cover at lock whilst giving the hosts 2 explosive back-row options from the bench in the process.

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Jano Vermaak

Jano Vermaak

Springbok scrumhalf Jano Vermaak is set to join the Stormers at the end of the season after 2 years with Toulouse.

The former Lions and Bulls scrumhalf joined the 4-time European champions in 2013, and featured regularly in his 1st season in the Top 14.

He has fallen down the pecking order this season however, with Sébastien Bezy and Jean-Marc Doussain both ahead of him, making just 2 starts so far.

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Allister Coetzee

Allister Coetzee

The Stormers have no major injury concerns in their camp this week, as they get set to host the Blues at Newlands on Saturday (17:05 SA Time).

The men from the Cape opened their 2015 Super Rugby campaign with a memorable 29 / 17 win over the Bulls in Pretoria and they could be boosted this week by the return of forwards Frans Malherbe and Siya Kolisi and wing Kobus van Wyk.

The trio missed the trip to Pretoria, but more will be known about their participation in Round 2 when the team is announced on Thursday, just before lunch-time.

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Rynhardt Elstadt

Rynhardt Elstadt

Stormers flank Rynhardt Elstadt has denied a report stating that he could join a top Japanese club.

This comes after a local Cape newspaper earlier this week reported that the Stormers hard-man is likely to join the exodus to Japan.

However, when asked about the possible move, Elstadt denied the report. His contract with Western Province expires at the end of October.

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Johnny Kotze

Johnny Kotze

Johnny Kotze, who was a stand-out player for last season’s Western Province Under 21 side, is the major surprise in the Stormers team to play the Bulls in the opening round of the 2015 Super Rugby competition at Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria, on Saturday evening.

The Johannesburg-born Kotze, who was schooled at Bishops in Cape Town, was given the nod after right wing Kobus van Wyk was omitted from Saturday’s match-day squad. Van Wyk, who had returned from a calf injury, enjoyed very little game time in the pre-season warm-up matches and it was felt that he needed more time to reach the desired level of match readiness.

“Kotze has all the core skills that is required of a wing,” said Stormers coach Allister Coetzee, at Thursday’s team announcement in Bellville. “He was one of the stars in last season’s (WP) Under 21 team. He’s been in our system and he brings characteristics that are very pleasing.

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DHL StormersSpringbok 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.

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Johnny Kotze

Johnny Kotze

Coach Allister Coetzee has mentioned his name almost every time he has spoken about his wing options for Saturday’s opening Vodacom Super Rugby clash with the Bulls at Loftus, but the likely inclusion of Johnny Kotze at No 14 will nonetheless be regarded as a surprise selection.

Although Kobus van Wyk, the regular Stormers right wing, has apparently fully recovered from his calf injury, the fact that he has played less than half an hour of rugby in the pre-season is likely to see him excluded from the starting team when it is announced at lunch time on Thursday.

EW Viljoen was seen as a possible replacement as he played for Western Province in the final Currie Cup league game of last year and did quite well, while Huw Jones, after turning in a solid performance at inside centre in his first start for the Stormers against the Cheetahs, was probably the favourite to slot into Van Wyk’s regular position.

However, it is understood that Kotze has been training on the wing this week, and is likely to “do a Van Wyk” by starting his first season of Super Rugby there in Pretoria.

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Armand du Preez

Armand du Preez

The Stormers have roped in the services of very tall EP Kings lock, Armand du Preez.

Du Preez is the son of former Eastern Province Junior Springbok lock, Armand du Preez.

Du Preez jnr trained with the Stormers at the High Performance Centre in Bellville on Wednesday.

Du Preez snr was regarded as arguably one of the toughest locks of his generation. He played 85 games for EP.

At 2.05m, Armand du Preez jnr is probably the tallest lock in the Cape at the moment.

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Kobus van Wyk

Kobus van Wyk

DHL Stormers are still waiting on the fitness of wing Kobus van Wyk ahead of Saturday’s Vodacom Super Rugby derby against the Bulls at Loftus and the result of his fitness test on Thursday could have a big impact on the Cape team’s chances of success.

Van Wyk, who has struggled with a calf strain for nearly 2 weeks and is according to backline coach Robbie Fleck only training under supervision, meanly separate from the rest of the team, is key to the Stormers’ back 3 balance.

The former South African Under 20 centre was a revelation when switched to the wing by the Stormers and WP last season, and he made a big difference to the Stormers’ ability to compete in the aerial battle in 2014. That has long been a Cape team weakness, with too many players short of beef lining up together in the back 3 since the departure of Sireli Naqelevuki a few seasons ago.

Van Wyk made some great takes off cross kicks last year and also knocked on a few in the Currie Cup that had great scoring potential written all over them, and this added a new weapon to the Stormers / WP attacking arsenal.

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Juan de Jongh

Juan de Jongh

Stormers vice-captain Juan de Jongh insists they are fully focused on themselves and not the Bulls ahead of their opening Super Rugby game at Loftus on Saturday.

Both sides will be looking to get their 2015 Super Rugby campaign off to a good start with the Bulls being tipped as the favourites at fortress Loftus Versfeld where the partisan crowd, and altitude, is sure to swing the psychological advantage in the hosts’ favour.

“It is going to be a very important game this weekend to get our campaign on the road. We are focused on ourselves and making sure we get our things right.

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Steven Kitshoff

Steven Kitshoff

Stormers and Western Province prop Steven Kitshoff has signed a contract with French Top 14 club, Bordeaux-Begles.

Kitshoff’s agent, Hilton Houghton, confirmed that his client has signed 2-year deal with the French club.

The 22-year-old is still contracted to Western Province until the end of October and will leave for France after the conclusion of this year’s Currie Cup competition.

Kitshoff, a former Baby Bok who boasts 45 Super Rugby caps, last played a first class match on 3 May last year before a knee injury ended his 2014 season.

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Ruan Botha

Ruan Botha

Damian de Allende

Damian de Allende

Nizaam Carr

Nizaam Carr

The DHL Stormers have been boosted by the return to fitness of Springboks Nizaam Carr and Damian de Allende as well as lock Ruan Botha ahead of their Super Rugby encounter against the Bulls in Pretoria on Saturday.

Wing Kobus van Wyk is an injury doubt however, and flank Siya Kolisi will not be risked this weekend.

The Stormers will travel to Loftus Versfeld for their 2015 season-opener, before hosting New Zealand side, the Blues, at Newlands the following weekend.

The team, to face the Bulls, will be announced at lunch-time on Thursday.

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Robert du Preez

Robert du Preez

Robert du Preez will line up at flyhalf for the Stormers in their pre-season friendly against the Boland Cavaliers at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday.

Demetri Catrakilis and Kurt Coleman played flyhalf in last Friday’s 39 / 31 win over the Cheetahs at Newlands.

But Du Preez will get a chance to showcase his skills with a starting role on Saturday, the Stormers announced via their official Facebook page.

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Gerbrandt Grobler

Gerbrandt Grobler

Western Province and Stormers lock Gerbrandt Grobler has received a 2-year ban after testing positive for an anabolic steroid.

According to reports, the test was done last October during the Currie Cup.

When Grobler, 22, was informed of the result, he admitted his guilt and made a settlement agreement with the South African Institute for Drug Free Sport (SAIDS). He therefore gave up the right to have a hearing.

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Allister Coetzee

Allister Coetzee

Long-serving DHL Stormers and DHL Western Province coach Allister Coetzee has chosen not to extend his contract at Western Province Rugby and will, instead, take up an opportunity abroad at the end of this year.

Coetzee, 51, will join Japanese club, Kobe Steel Kobelco Steelers, having decided to put pen to paper this week.

“I have always said that I would make an announcement once I had made a decision about my future and my decision has now been made and communicated properly,” said Coetzee on the official DHL Stormers website.

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DHL StormersAfter 2 weekends of Super Rugby warm-ups played and looking at what was achieved and what is still lacking, the Stormers are of the opinion that there is still a lot to work on.

The DHL Stormers have also brought out a Fitness Report today, detailing what they have to deal with, at this stage of the season, before a single Super Rugby game has been played.

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Frans Malherbe

Frans Malherbe

Siya Kolisi

Siya Kolisi

French Top 14 club Toulouse are reportedly eager to attain the services of Springboks Frans Malherbe and Siya Kolisi.

French rugby newspaper, Midi Olympique, reports that the Stormers duo are on the shopping-list of the French giants who want to bolster their ranks after this year’s Rugby World Cup.

Prop Malherbe has played 4 Tests for the Boks, while flank Kolisi boasts 10 caps.

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Eben Etzebeth

Eben Etzebeth

The Stormers scored a 39 / 31 win over the Cheetahs in an entertaining Super Rugby pre-season match at Newlands on Friday.

However, the Cape Town franchise will be concerned about injuries emerging from the match, with the real price of victory yet to be determined.

Two of their international locks, Argentinean Manuel Carizza and Springbok Eben Etzebeth, left the field before half-time and didn’t return.

Of the two injuries, Carizza’s looked the more serious.

Kobus van Wyk also picked up a calf injury, which does not look serious but would require a scan.

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