Duane Vermeulen Back For Stormers

Springbok eighthman Duane Vermeulen is back from his two-week rest period and will lead the Stormers in Saturday’s Super Rugby North-South Derby against the Bulls at Newlands (kick-off 19:10).  Vermeulen missed the final two weeks of the Stormers’ Super Rugby tour as part of the SA Franchises’ rest agreement with SA Rugby, but his return marks one of four changes to the starting line-up that defeated the Western Force in Perth last Saturday.  Two of the four changes are injury enforced, with Johnny Kotze and Pat Howard (on debut) replacing the injured wing duo of Kobus Van Wyk (knee – six weeks) and Dillyn Leyds (shoulder – one week), respectively.

Howard will make his Super Rugby debut, with Kotze set to win his sixth cap.  Nizaam Carr moves to the bench to make way for Vermeulen’s expected return to action, whilst the fourth and final change sees Nic Groom take over at scrumhalf from Louis Schreuder, who, like Carr, reverts to the bench.  Joining Carr and Schreuder among the replacements is prop Oli Kebble, with Ali Vermaak – along with Sikhumbuzo Notshe – doing duty for the Western Province Vodacom Cup team this weekend.

Looking ahead to Saturday’s clash, which is already a near sell-out, Stormers coach Allister Coetzee says:  ‘It doesn’t get much bigger than a North-South Derby at DHL Newlands, does it?  The Bulls are the SA Conference leaders, they have six Springboks in their pack and six in their backline with three more on the bench.  It’s a powerful team and a team that has won six out of their last seven games – we’re expecting a Test-match like battle on Saturday.  We know we weren’t at our best last weekend, but we have had to train smartly in this short week to make the necessary improvements and adjustments in our game against this strong Bulls team.’  Tickets are almost sold out for this match already, but there is still standing room available and some individual seats too.

The Stormers team to face the Bulls (home) is as follows:

15. Cheslin Kolbe
14. Johnny Kotze
13. Juan De Jongh (vice-captain)
12. Damian De Allende
11. Pat Howard (On Super Rugby debut for the Stormers)
10. Demetri Catrakilis
9. Nic Groom
8. Duane Vermeulen (captain)
7. Siya Kolisi
6. Schalk Burger
5. Ruan Botha
4. Eben Etzebeth
3. Frans Malherbe
2. Bongi Mbonambi
1. Steven Kitshoff

Replacements:
16. Scarra Ntubeni
17. Oli Kebble
18. Vincent Koch
19. Jean Kleyn
20. Nizaam Carr
21. Louis Schreuder
22. Kurt Coleman
23. Huw Jones