Van der Merwe to get Stormers chance?

Edwill van der Merwe may be set to get a rare start after Seabelo Senatla was ruled out of the Stormers’ match against the Pumas in Mbombela on Friday.

The Stormers received a double blow at wing over the past couple of days after Sergeal Petersen suffered a quad injury on Saturday against the Lions, which coach John Dobson described as ‘significant’ and ‘serious’.

This came in the same week that the Stormers were without Seabelo Senatla, who is working his way back from a hamstring injury.

During an online media conference on Monday afternoon, Stormers assistant coach Rito Hlungwani confirmed that both Senatla and Petersen, who started the year as the two first-choice wings, would miss Friday’s match against the Pumas.

‘From Saturday, we’ve got one casualty and that is Sergeal. The rest of the guys have got soft tissue injuries and niggles we’re not too concerned about,’ Hlungwani confirmed. ‘Sergeal is the one player that is totally out for this weekend.

‘Seabelo is close, but he won’t be ready for this weekend. He’s running and getting ready.’

The duo’s absence will open the door to a rare starting opportunity for the other wings in the Stormers squad.  Of course, there is the option of shifting Springbok Warrick Gelant, who is more comfortable at fullback, to the wing this weekend, with either Tim Swiel or Damian Willemse playing fullback, but that might be one too many changes to a team that is looking to settle after months without rugby.

The obvious solution is to give one of the youngsters an opportunity to perform. The Stormers currently have Angelo Davids, Sihle Njezula and Edwill van der Merwe available as the other out-and-out wings in their 47-man squad.

As far as the pecking order in terms of experience goes, Van der Merwe is likely to be next in line. Through no fault of his own, the 25-year-old has only played a bit-part role for the Stormers to date, after making a name for himself when starring for Maties (Stellenbosch University) in the Varsity Cup.

Van der Merwe currently holds the record for most Varsity Cup tries – with 22 to his name – but has had to be patient due to the Stormers’ outstanding depth at wing.

If Dobson wants to go for a more left-field selection, he could call up Davids, who has been in superb form for Western Province in the U21 Championship. The Blitzbok speedster has currently scored six tries in two games WP through hat-tricks against the Free State and Vodacom Blue Bulls.

Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

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Dylan Jack