Stormers anticipating tight tussle in rainy Durban

Stormers coach John Dobson is pleased to have Springbok firepower back in his pack as he anticipates a wet-weather match against the Sharks in Durban.

The Stormers have welcomed Pieter-Steph du Toit back into their starting lineup, after the Springbok flank was rested for their win over the Lions according to national protocol.

Added to this, locks JD Schickerling and Marvin Orie have recovered from their respective injuries and will resume their roles as the starting lock pair.

‘They are all high-quality players,’ Dobson said. ‘That’s two Springboks and a guy who played SA A in JD. That’s given us a bit of optimism.

‘The Sharks pack is big and heavy and we have struggled to move them before in Super Rugby. Ox and Thomas aren’t easy to move, it’s going to take a lot of work. That back five of ours is also part of the scrum and their return will help us in that regard.’

To accommodate Du Toit’s return, Willie Engelbrecht has been shifted to a new position at openside flank, with youngster Evan Roos continuing at No 8 and Marcel Theunissen dropping out of the starting lineup.

Dobson said that with Engelbrecht catching the eye of the national coaches, it would have been difficult to leave him out of Saturday’s match.

‘Willie has played six before,’ Dobson said. ‘Obviously we are expecting a physical game and rain could make it a bit tighter and obviously Willie is a very physical player.

‘The main reason for it was that Willie is someone in the national frame. To leave him out for such a big game would be odd. Evan has done really well at No 8. He has been great for us. It was more a question of trying to get four into three, which is tricky. I am comfortable with what we have chosen.’

The Sharks have welcomed Springbok wing Makazole Mapimpi back from Japan, while Sbu Nkosi is expected to start after pulling out of last week’s loss to the Bulls with a shoulder injury. Both wings are prolific aerial duellists, something the Stormers are wary of, especially as Dobson admitted their own kick-chase game has not been up to par.

‘It wasn’t good over the past couple of weeks,’ Dobson said. ‘We are expecting a massive aerial battle this weekend and have trained a lot around that. Both us kicking and chasing our own contestables, receiving their constestables and setting after that, will be a massive part of our preparation.’

Photo: Thinus Maritz/Gallo Images

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Dylan Jack