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Stormers

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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Allister Coetzee

Allister Coetzee

A potential crisis looms for a Stormers management that will be starting the Vodacom Super Rugby season without the defensive guru, Jacques Nienaber, that masterminded their team strength over the past seven years and with the knowledge that the head coach will be leaving at the end of the competition.

Japanese based sources have confirmed that the stories linking Allister Coetzee with the Japanese club Kobe Kobelco Steelers are more than just speculation and an expression of interest – the two time Currie Cup winning coach has made a firm commitment to replace Gary Gold as Kobe coach and will link up with his new club once the Super Rugby season is over in July.

Coetzee comes off contract this year. Among other things, he is understood to have been put out by the recruitment of former Bok and Kenya Sevens coach Paul Treu as a Stormers assistant coach without the management being consulted, and has informed the Stormers hierarchy and his fellow management of his decision.

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Willie Britz

Willie Britz

Willie Britz will lead the Cheetah when they tackle the Stormers in a Super Rugby pre-season outing at Newlands on Friday (today).

Britz, recruited from the Lions in the off-season, takes over from Francois Uys – who was captain in the 13 / 30 loss to the Bulls last week – as the Cheetahs continue to rotate team leaders during the build-up to their season opener against the Sharks on 14 February.

The permanent Cheetahs captain for the 2015 Super Rugby competition will only be announced early February.

It is expected that Heinrich Brüssow will get the job once he returns from his Japanese club commitments.

The team that travels to Newlands shows 13 changes from that which lost to the Bulls in Polokwane.

Only loose forwards Britz and Jean Cook retained their places in the starting 15.

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DHL StormersDHL Stormers coach Allister Coetzee has announced a powerful line-up for Friday night’s friendly clash against the Cheetahs at DHL Newlands (Kick-Off 19:00 SA Time).

As expected, Springbok lock Eben Etzebeth will start in his first match of 2015, his first appearance in a DHL Stormers jersey since 2013, whilst talented youngster Huw Jones gets a run at inside centre – his first start for the DHL Stormers – after Damian de Allende was ruled out with a slight quadriceps tear.

“It’s a slight tear, so we could’ve pushed Damian if, say, we were playing in a final,” said Coetzee on the www.iamastormer.com website. “It’s not serious, but we didn’t want to risk him at this stage of our pre-season preparations.”

Demetri Catrakilis, after missing last weekend’s trip to George with a stomach ailment, will start at flyhalf, whilst ABSA Currie Cup-winning lock Jean Kleyn has been named amongst the replacements after recovering from a knee (meniscus) injury which delayed his start to his team’s pre-season programme.

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Eben Etzebeth

Eben Etzebeth

The struggles the DHL Stormers have endured through the past 2 Vodacom Super Rugby seasons may well be ascribed to the limited appearances made in the jersey during that time by the powerful Springbok second row forward Eben Etzebeth.

It is normally considered a stretch to suggest that one man makes a team, and it would be if you said such a thing about Etzebeth with the Stormers and Western Province for it is true that Duane Vermeulen is at least as valuable and influential. However that missing Etzebeth is akin to going without a clutch of players rather than just one is undeniable.

The statistics will bear out that claim too – in 2013 the Stormers were struggling when Etzebeth returned from injury. They lost the first match they played with him back, one in which they were robbed by the TMO against the Rebels in Melbourne, but after that they won 6 in a row. Last year he was out for the entire season with an injury sustained in the last test match of the previous year, and the Stormers struggled.

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DHL StormersThe DHL Stormers are slowly working towards full muster as the Vodacom Super Rugby season approaches, with another clutch of Springboks set to return to the team for Friday night’s warm-up fixture against the Toyota Cheetahs at Newlands.

The Stormers dispensed with the SWD Eagles 34 / 3 in their opening game in George at the weekend, but the Cheetahs, as fellow Super Rugby participants, are considered the toughest opponent of the pre-season phase. They are thus the ones the Cape side will consider to be the dress rehearsal for the real thing, which comes in the form of the opening clash with the Vodacom Bulls in Pretoria on 14 February.

The Stormers will play the Boland Cavaliers in another warm-up game before the Super Rugby season starts. However, with the game taking place just one week before the trip to Loftus, the normal policy is to include fringe players for that fixture, plus maybe a top player or two who would only then be fully ready to play after coming back from injury.

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Vincent Koch & Bongi Mbonambi

Vincent Koch & Bongi Mbonambi

The Stormers recorded a 34 / 3 pre-season win over an SWD Eagles side in very humid conditions at George’s Outeniqua Park on Saturday.

The young Stormers outfit was playing in their first of 3 pre-season clashes ahead of the 2015 Super Rugby season and they were well tested by their hosts in front of a capacity crowd.

In the end, however, coach Allister Coetzee would have been pleased with his team’s 5 tries to 0 victory – mainly because the game gave him an opportunity to give some key men a run-out and test some new combinations in the process and, also, because there were no fresh injury concerns to report after the match.

New faces like Dillyn Leyds, Vincent Koch, Bongi Mbonambi, Wilco Louw, David Ribbans, Robert du Preez, Huw Jones and Neil Rautenbach all got game time, whilst skipper Duane Vermeulen got some minutes in his first match as full-time skipper of this side.

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