John Dobson said the DHL Stormers players set to face Cardiff on Friday have an ideal opportunity to make a statement before the return of their world champion Springboks.
The Stormers head coach on Thursday named veteran prop Brok Harris to lead a lineup which features a host of changes as the Capetonians look to end their four-week tour on a high in round 6 of the Vodacom URC.
Hooker Joseph Dweba, lock Gary Porter, utility forward BJ Dixon, No 8 Evan Roos, wingers Angelo Davids and Leolin Zas will miss out on the clash at Arms Park, either due to injury or personal reasons.
Dweba, Dixon, Roos and Zas could be available for selection to face Zebre Parma in Stellenbosch next Saturday, with Boks Damian Willemse, Manie Libbok, Frans Malherbe and Deon Fourie, who are set to rejoin training when the squad returns to the Republic.
The Stormers dropped to ninth on the URC log with a defeat to Munster last week, and speaking in a teleconference from the Welsh capital on Thursday, Dobson told reporters: “Our goal was to win two games on tour – we clearly haven’t achieved that … but tomorrow [Friday] is about us showing that we’ve got enough depth to compete in this competition.
“Were you to jot that team [against Cardiff] down, there’s maybe three or four guys who would start normally if we were supercharged and everyone is fit and available.
“It’s an opportunity for us to see exactly how good this next generation is, how much depth we’ve got – and I’m talking about guys like Sacha, Andre-Hugo, Nama, Marcel, Keke… this is their opportunity.
“What I want us to do tomorrow is to go and get the win obviously, and see guys like that play really well and see that the cupboard is well stocked and we’ve got a lekker future.
“I think this team is good enough to get the win, and for our morale and the table we need to get those five points tomorrow.”
On the severity of the injuries of the absentees as well as the returning Boks, he added: “Gary Porter is quite serious, that’s a month or two, the rest are one or two-weekers – Evan, BJ.
“Angelo might be a bit longer, three or four. Joseph was for family reasons. [Zas] we had to rest but he could’ve pushed through.
“Everything’s back on song next week. We chatted to them [the Boks] on Monday, and unfortunately Deon’s dad passed away so he might be a couple of days late, otherwise they’re all in for next week.”
Harris, meanwhile, stressed the importance of victory on Friday in a milestone match for the seasoned campaigner.
“Coming back [to Cape Town in 2021] re-emphasised how special it is to put a Stormers jersey on, and that’s what I’ve been saying all this time,” said the 38-year-old, who will make his 400th senior professional appearance.
“It’s a privilege and with that comes responsibility, a massive work rate, attitude, physicality, playing Stormers rugby, and that’s what we want to try and achieve when that whistle goes tomorrow.”
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