Sacha Mngomezulu and debutant Alapati Leiua will power the DHL Stormers midfield in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship match against Zebre on Saturday.
The Stormers have named a heavily changed starting lineup from the team that claimed a come-from-behind win over Edinburgh in Cape Town, making five personnel changes and one positional switch.
The major change in the backline sees Junior Springbok captain Mngomezulu and Samoan recruit Leiua team up in an exciting midfield for the three-game tour opener. Mngomezulu will be making a first start for the Stormers, having made his debut off the bench last season.
Damian Willemse shifts from inside centre to fullback as a result, with Clayton Blommetjies remaining in South Africa for his wedding.
Springbok scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies will make his first start of the season, after coming off the bench against Edinburgh.
There are a handful of changes in the pack as Willie Engelbrecht and Junior Pokomela replace Hacjivah Dayimani and the rested Deon Fourie respectively.
Adre Smith comes into the second row in place of last weekend’s captain Marvin Orie, with Salmaan Moerat taking over the leadership in Parma.
On the bench, hooker Chad Solomon, loosehead prop Kwenzo Blose and flanker Nama Xaba will be eager to make their first appearance of the season.
“This is a team full of potential, just looking at some of the combinations we have out there,” said Stormers coach John Dobson.
“It is fantastic to have someone of Salmaan’s stature to step in as captain and we are excited to see what the likes of Alapati, Sacha, Willie and Herschel can do as they all make their first starts of the campaign.
“We know it will be tough against a competitive Zebre side away from home, but preparations have gone well and we are looking forward to the challenge,” he said.
DHL Stormers – 15 Damian Willemse, 14 Suleiman Hartzenberg, 13 Alapati Leiua, 12 Sacha Mngomezulu, 11 Angelo Davids, 10 Manie Libbok, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Evan Roos, 7 Willie Engelbrecht, 6 Junior Pokomela, 5 Adre Smith, 4 Salmaan Moerat (c), 3 Neethling Fouche, 2 Andre-Hugo Venter, 1 Ali Vermaak.
Subs: 16 Chad Solomon, 17 Kwenzo Blose, 18 Brock Harris, 19 Marvin Orie, 20 Nama Xaba, 21 Marcel Theunissen, 22 Paul de Wet, 23 Dan du Plessis.
— SA Rugby magazine (@SARugbymag) October 6, 2022