Stormers coach John Dobson says he will be looking to give more opportunities to his fringe backline players when the season does resume.
Injuries to the Stormers pack – including captain Siya Kolisi and hooker Bongi Mbonambi – meant that Juarno Augustus and Scarra Ntubeni got more game time than perhaps they would have been expecting in the first six rounds of the season.
However, the Stormers largely had a clean bill of health in their backline, with only scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies picking up a long-term injury in Durban against the Sharks.
This enabled Dobson to keep his backs unchanged for the most part, with promising young players in Edwill van der Merwe and Rikus Pretorius playing bit-part roles.
‘That was the weird thing, we did not have one backline injury in the first six games,’ Dobson said. ‘It was freakish. We sort of kept going, so we did not create enough opportunities.
‘There is no question that the guys who I will be looking to create opportunities for are Edwill – who is overdue – and Leolin Zas. I don’t know what Seabelo’s plans are long term, but we know that Dillyn [Leyds] will be going to Harlequins at some stage. So Zas and Edwill have to be given opportunities.
‘Rikus has had two 20 minutes [as a substitute] which is not fair really, chasing a game.’
Dobson did single out Dan du Plessis as someone he was particularly excited about. The 25-year-old son of former Springbok Michael, Du Plessis has had his career marred by successive injuries.
However, he did return to full fitness before the season was halted and Dobson says that if he could stay fit, he still has the potential to play for the Springboks.
‘The guy who has been sensational playing for Western Province against SWD and Boland and club teams is Dan du Plessis. He now has four games under the belt. We all know Dan, if he stays fit that is a Springbok, no question. He is one of the best centres in the country, so I have to give him an opportunity.
‘His injury record is so poor. You get nervous every time watching him, you don’t want to watch him live, you just want to watch him afterwards because you get scared. But there is a very special player there.
‘At this stage we will look at him at 13, because Ruhan has played every game and we need to bring Rikus through. But he can do both.’
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