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Deon Fourie. Picture: GALLO IMAGS/ASHLEY VLOTMAN
Deon Fourie. Picture: GALLO IMAGS/ASHLEY VLOTMAN

Deon Fourie’s absence will come as a huge blow to a Stormers hoping to secure a seventh straight win at home in the United Rugby Championship (URC) clash against Glasgow Warriors on Friday.

Fourie has not fully recovered from a leg injury and will sit this one out.

The combative loose forward and former hooker has become a vital part of the Stormers’ armoury. He is an understated but resourceful and dogged flank who has helped to bring balance to their game.

In attack he pops up in places you would least expect, but it is his ability to stunt the opposition’s momentum, especially the timing of his steals at the breakdown, that makes him such an asset. At 20 Fourie has the tournament’s highest number of turnovers.

What the Stormers may lose, especially when they are on the back foot, they will partly gain in replacement Junior Pokomela’s industry in attack.

Warrick Gelant. Picture: ASHLEY VLOTMAN/GALLO IMAGES
Warrick Gelant. Picture: ASHLEY VLOTMAN/GALLO IMAGES

Crucially for the Stormers, their substitutes’ bench will be bolstered by the return of lock Salmaan Moerat, a long-term injury casualty, as well as fullback Warrick Gelant, also back from injury.

“It is fantastic to welcome back the likes of Salmaan and Warrick, while also keeping some continuity in the team,” said coach John Dobson.

Both will add value to the Stormers’ effort in a match that could bring them a step closer to conference honours.

The versatile Gelant’s return is timely as it allows the Stormers to deploy six forwards to their bench in anticipation of a close combat confrontation with the Scots.

Frans Malherbe, now with a few games under his belt, is likely to increase his impact in those exchanges, but the Stormers will be careful not to become too preoccupied with a forward-based arm wrestle.

No 8 Evan Roos has been the tournament’s most successful ball carrier, wing Leolin Zas (9) is now the top try scorer with Gelant second. All that has helped Manie Libbok (127) to lead the point-scoring chart.

Dobson must be please that his team is as comfortable rumbling upfront as dazzling at the back. Added to that they have developed the required game management to extricate themselves from tight situations.

The Stormers have found different ways of getting the job done and they can be sure the redoubtable Warriors will demand of them to put their entire skill set on show on Friday.

The Warriors, who have 10 wins from their 15 matches, may draw inspiration from Leinster. The log leaders left many of their frontline players at home for their clashes against the Sharks and the Stormers over the next two weekends. Leinster are 10 points ahead of Ulster and the Warriors, but twin defeats in SA could put the top spot back in dispute.

The Stormers know what is coming. “We know that we are in for another real test, so the focus is on taking another step up on Friday,” Dobson said.

Stormers squad: Damian Willemse; Seabelo Senatla, Ruhan Nel, Rikus Pretorius, Leolin Zas; Manie Libbok, Herschel Jantjies; Evan Roos, Hacjivah Dayimani, Junior Pokomela; Marvin Orie, Adré Smith; Frans Malherbe, Scarra Ntubeni, Steven Kitshoff (capt). Replacements: JJ Kotze, Ali Vermaak, Brok Harris, Salmaan Moerat, Ben-Jason Dixon, Nama Xaba, Paul de Wet, Warrick Gelant.

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