2017 Team Preview: Stormers

cat_stormers16bWith pace to burn in their backline, the Stormers are shaping as one of the most exciting prospects in Investec Super Rugby 2017.

Home: Newlands Stadium,
Last season: 3rd after regular season. Losing quarterfinalist.

Squad: Juarno Augustus, Bjorn Basson, Nizaam Carr, Jaco Coetzee, Kurt Coleman, Damian de Allende, Juan de Jongh, Jan de Klerk, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Dan du Plessis, Jean-Luc du Plessis, Rob du Preez, Dewaldt Duvenage, Rynhardt Elstadt, Eben Etzebeth, Huw Jones, Oli Kebble, Cheslin Kolbe, Siya Kolisi, Dan Kriel, Dillyn Leyds, Wilco Louw, Frans Malherbe, Godlen Masimla, SP Marais, Bongi Mbonambi, Dean Muir, Khanyo Ngcukana, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Caylib Oosthuizen, Justin Phillips, Ramone Samuels, JD Schickerling, Marnus Schoeman, Seabelo Senatla, Chad Solomon, JC Janse van Rensberg, Frans van Wyk, Chris van Zyl, Ali Vermaak, Jano Vermaak, EW Viljoen, Cobus Wiese, Damian Willemse, Eduard Zandberg.

Game breaker:
After being commited to the Springboks Sevens side over the past few seasons, the Stormers will be delighted to call upon speed merchant Seabelo Senatla for the 2017 season. Senatla will vie for the title of fastest player in Super Rugby and will be eager to transfer the form to fifteens that saw him named world sevens player of the year in 2016. Senatla is just 76kg, but what he lacks in size he more than makes up in raw pace and electric side-stepping ability.Key signing:
While there is no lack of pace in the Stormers backline, the acquisition of powerful centre Dan Kriel from the Bulls will provide plenty of punch in the midfield. At 6 foot 4 and 105kg, Kriel is a powerhouse with ball in hand but also offers a slick passing game. Kriel will be hoping that 2017 is the season that he can join twin brother Jesse in the Springboks squad.

Returning veteran:

Although he is only 25-years-old, towering lock Eben Etzebeth can rightly be considered a veteran after first debuting for both the Stormers and South Africa in 2012. A highly skilled lineout operator, Etzebeth also offers plenty around the field and will take on a leadership role with the Stormers in 2017. The 117kg second rower is a world class player and will be desperate to ensure that the Stormers fulfil their promise this season.

The scoop:
Traditionally not the most expansive team in the competition, the Stormers will need to unleash the pace of sevens stars Seabelo Senatla and Cheslin Kolbe out wide if they are to really challenge for the crown this year. The loss of Schalk Burger will be felt hard by the Stormers but if Eben Etzebeth can fill his talismanic shoes then the Stormers should feature in the quarterfinal stage again at least.


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