Stormers coach Allister Coetzee is concerned about the second row for their warm-up match against the Bulls.
The Stormers are without De Kock Steenkamp and new Argentinian recruit Manuel Carizza for the match in Polokwane on Saturday, so utility forwards Rynhardt Elstadt, Michael Rhodes and Western Province U21 player Ruan Botha will be used at lock.
‘Right now we’re battling with depth at lock and we’ll need experience there. Rynhardt is looking very good … he’s a week and a half ahead of where he should have been [after his operation in the off-season]. He’ll probably play 40 minutes this weekend,' said Coetzee on the Stormers website.
‘Michael is another player who we’ll look at in the second-row position. With Schalk Burger back, we are blessed with excellent loose forward resources. So although I know they can play at No 7, we’ll look at them to play in the second row at this stage.
‘Ruan’s gone through a full conditioning phase with us and he’s holding up, which is a good sign. He’s got a good chance of starting this weekend and it would be good to see how he goes against a quality Bulls lineout.’
Coetzee also emphasised that while the game is purely a trial for both teams, the match is an important element of the pre-season.
‘I don’t expect my players to hit the ground running this weekend. Let me say from the outset that the results of these warm-up matches are not of primary importance, but that does not mean we won’t – or don’t – care about winning.
‘Part of the planning is playing away from home, which was done to take the players out of their comfort zone. We also want to use these games to see what the youngsters can do and whether our depth is sufficient. I’ve never been shy to give young players an opportunity and there’s no better opportunity than to play the Bulls away from home.’
Coetzee will announce the Stormers starting XV and extended bench on Wednesday.
Stormers squad for Polokwane (26):
Hookers: Scarra Ntubeni, Tiaan Liebenberg.
Props: Steven Kitshoff, Frans Malherbe, Oli Kebble, Justin Ackerman.
Locks: Rynhardt Elstadt, Michael Rhodes, Ruan Botha, Jean Kleyn.
Loose forwards: Nizaam Carr, Duane Vermeulen, Siya Kolisi, Schalk Burger (vc), Deon Fourie.
Scrumhalves: Nic Groom, Louis Schreuder.
Flyhalves: Demetri Catrakilis, Gary van Aswegen.
Centres: Jean de Villiers (c), Juan de Jongh.
Wings: Damian de Allende, Scott van Breda, Kobus van Wyk.
Fullbacks: Gio Aplon, Ryno Eksteen.
Photo: Getty Images