Lock Chris van Zyl will make his Stormers debut if he comes off the replacements bench in the Super Rugby clash with the Kings at Newlands.
The hard-working Van Zyl has shown great form as captain of Western Province this season, and is joined on the replacements bench by prop JC Janse van Rensburg and scrum-half Jano Vermaak who both make a return from injury.
Huw Jones will start his first match of the season at outside centre in place of Daniel du Plessis who has been ruled out with concussion, and the only other change in the backline sees scrum-half Louis Schreuder come into the starting line-up for Nic Groom who is being rested.
In the forward pack Stormers half-centurion Rynhardt Elstadt starts at flank with Siya Kolisi set to provide impact off the replacements bench, Scarra Ntubeni comes in at hooker, and there are two new locks in JD Schickerling and Jean Kleyn, with Pieter-Steph du Toit and Eben Etzebeth being rested.
As winners of Africa One Conference, the Stormers will be presented with their conference trophy after the clash with the Kings, but head coach Robbie Fleck said that their focus is solely on gaining as much momentum as possible ahead of the knockout phase of the competition.
“It is great that we have won our conference before the last game of the regular season, but that does not mean we will compromise on intensity against the Southern Kings this weekend,” he told the Stormers website.
“We need to play our best rugby in order to take some meaningful momentum into the play-offs, so this is a vital match for us.”
The Kings are still searching for their first win against a South African opponent. They’ve won two matches this season, but it would be a stretch to say those wins were convincing.
The Sunwolves spurned several chances to kick for goal in a tight contest in Port Elizabeth. The Kings then struggled to put a 13-man Jaguares side away at the same venue later in the tournament.
The Kings may avoid the wooden spoon thanks to another South African team (the Sharks should beat the Sunwolves on Friday, a result that will ensure that the Japanese side finishes at the foot of the overall table). However, that should provide small consolation to a Kings side that hasn’t been much better than the Sunwolves (in terms of results and performance) in 2016.
HEAD TO HEAD
Overall: Stormers 2, Kings 0
In Cape Town: Stormers 1, Kings 0
STATS AND FACTS
– There have been only two previous encounters between these teams in which 66 points were scored in total.
– The Stormers come into this game on the back of a three-game winning streak, the last time they won four in a row was in the opening four rounds of the 2015 season.
– The Kings have lost their last 11 games away from home and have conceded an average of 46.5 points per game in that run.
– The Kings have boasted a 90% lineout success rate this season, the fifth best in Super Rugby, however the Stormers have stolen 44 opposition lineouts in 2016, 15 more than any other side.
– The Kings have gained just 312m per game on average this season, fewer than any other side, while they have conceded 604m per game, over 60m more than any other team.
Stormers: 15 Jaco Taute, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Huw Jones, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Schalk Burger (c), 7 Rynhardt Elstadt, 6 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 5 JD Schickerling, 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Alistair Vermaak
Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 JC Janse van Rensburg, 18 JP Smith, 19 Chris van Zyl, 20 Siya Kolisi, 21 Jano Vermaak, 22 Brandon Thomson, 23 Scott van Breda
Kings: 15 Malcolm Jaer, 14 Lukhanyo Am, 13 Stefan Watermeyer, 12 Shane Gates, 11 Wandile Mjekevu, 10 Dewald Human, 9 James Hall, 8 Jacques Engelbrecht, 7 Stefan Willemse, 6 Andisa Ntsila, 5 JC Astle, 4 Steven Sykes (c), 3 Jacobie Adriaanse, 2 Edgar Marutlulle, 1 Sti Sithole
Replacements: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Schalk Ferreira, 18 Tom Botha, 19 Schalk Oelofse/Sintu Manjezi, 20 Aidon Davis, 21 Kevin Luiters, 22 Elgar Watts, 23 Jeremy Ward
Date: Saturday, July 16
Venue: Newlands, Cape Town
Kick-off: 17:05 local (15:05 GMT)
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant Referees: Quinton Immelman (South Africa), Rodney Bonaparte (South Africa)
TMO: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)