Stormers make only one change for Highlanders clash
Ntubeni in for Mbonambi in crucial Newlands clash
Stormers coach Robbie Fleck was able to pick an almost unchanged side for this weekend’s must-win clash against the Highlanders at Newlands.
After his side took the Crusaders to the wire in a thrilling and brutal 19-19 draw last week‚ hooker Bongi Mbonambi is the only casualty from the match and misses out.
Scarra Ntubeni replaces Mbonambi in the only change to the starting XV, while Chad Solomon is set to make his debut from the bench.
The fit again Wilco Louw is back on the bench with Neethling Fouche making way for the Springbok tighthead.
Louw‚ who was set to start at tighthead last week but pulled out on the eve of the match with a tight groin‚ has made a full recovery. Centre Damian de Allende also came through a late fitness test.
De Allende suffered a calf injury against the Crusaders and did not train until Thursday. But Fleck confirmed he came through a tough 60-minute session and was good to go against the Highlanders.
The Stormers are in a scrap for a play-off berth as are the Highlanders as the race for the post-season tightens.
The Stormers have 26 log points and are three behind the Highlanders and six behind SA Conference leaders the Jaguares.
The Stormers don’t play the Jaguares again this season but they do meet the Lions and Sharks – two teams just above them in the standings.
“It’s nice to have consistency in selection at this stage of the season‚” Fleck said. “It’s also good reward for the way the guys played last week.
“There was some thought given to starting Wilco‚ but the way Frans Malherbe played last week made it more important to keep the same starting side.
“It’s also rough on Neethling Fouche‚ but he is certainly in all our selection conversations now.
“The players’ bodies were really sore after last week and we’ve managed them well this week by giving them Monday off.
“It’s all about getting them mentally and physically ready for this weekend.
“We have to pick our strongest possible team every week now because we have to win every game.”
Captain Siya Kolisi said the pressure was off his team at this stage and they could play with relative freedom. “Every game is more important than the last but we don’t feel extra pressure.
“We need to get four points from every game and if we can earn some bonus points along the way, that will be better.
“The only pressure we have is the pressure we put on ourselves. After last week’s performance we challenged ourselves to reproduce that quality consistently. We can’t blow hot and cold from week to week.”