Dillyn Leyds is set to make a rare start at flyhalf for the Stormers against the Crusaders in Christchurch on Saturday‚ although the plans might change before kick-off.
Leyds‚ a Springbok winger and experienced fullback with the ability to play almost anywhere in the backline‚ was named at No10 for the Stormers’ third match of their 2018 Super Rugby campaign.
Regular flyhalf Damian Willemse was not considered after suffering a haematoma on his leg during last week’s 34-27 loss to the Waratahs in Sydney.
But at training on Thursday‚ fullback SP Marais suffered what coach Robbie Fleck described as a "knock to the knee" and is in doubt for the clash. Marais will be assessed on Friday but if he fails a fitness test‚ Leyds will revert to fullback with George Whitehead moving into the flyhalf position for his first Stormers start.
Fleck and his team could do without such problems against the defending champions and the most successful team in Super Rugby history and one of the most formidable at home.
The Stormers have never won against the Crusaders away from home in 10 meetings, although Western Province did force a 16-16 draw in 1996. The Crusaders have won 86 of their 97 homes games against non-New Zealand teams
Fleck has also shuffled the pack with in-form loosehead Steven Kitshoff benched, allowing veteran JC Janse van Rensburg to start. Bruising flank Cobus Wiese starts after missing last week, with Kobus van Dyk dropping to the bench.
"We will make a decision on SP tomorrow [Friday] but it’s more than likely that Dillyn will revert to fullback and George Whitehead will start at 10‚" Fleck said. "We wanted Dillyn’s experience at 10 and he has played in the position before.
"We feel Dillyn would give us good control of the game from flyhalf. George has done extremely well in the warm-up games and could get a chance.
"If SP fails his fitness test we will have to reshuffle‚ but the good news is that George and Dillyn have had a bit of game time this season. We’ve gone with Cobus Wiese because the Crusaders have a strong‚ abrasive pack and are effective lineout and maul operators.
"They have a big tight five that is able to exert pressure in terms of the territory game. We feel Cobus is better suited to this game because he brings size and grunt to what will be a lot of battles up front with the set piece."