Van der Merwe’s selection posers ‘revealed’

Stormers coach Kobus van der Merwe has revealed that his team is set for a selection shake-up, as he tries to get their faltering Super 14 campaign back on track.

Speaking ahead of his team’s Super 14 Round Three encounter with the Chiefs at Newlands on Friday, Van der Merwe said selecting the right combinations would be crucial.

Having failed dismally in the first two rounds – losing to the Cheetahs (27-9) and the Western Force (22-3), without scoring a try – the Stormers are languishing at the bottom of the standings.

There have been calls for the coach’s head this week, especially in the fickle Cape media, but Van der Merwe has pointed to other factors as contributing to the team’s poor start.

He has made it clear that players who are prepared to do the hard work are essential if the Stormers want to get back on the winning track.

“I’ve analyzed the video of the game against the Force a few times and it is clear there are too many players who want the ball, but they are not prepared to do the dirty work,” Van der Merwe said.

“We need to get the balance right. We cannot just have a team full of game-breakers, because it just doesn’t work like that. We need a few grafters, players who can work to create opportunities for the game-breakers.

“We need quality first-phase ball to build momentum.”

The coach said he was happy with the performance of his tight five against the Force, but felt the Chiefs will be a step up.

“The Chiefs will be a different kettle of fish. They have a very good tight five and they are a very physical team, so we would really have to think deep and hard about our combinations.”

With Springbok loose forward Joe van Niekerk having been ruled out through injury, Robbie Diack is set for a recall at number eight.

Another surprise selection could be powerful Dylan des Fountain, a former Blue Bulls star, coming in on the left wing and Conrad Jantjes moving from wing to fullback in place of Gio Aplon.

Springbok scrum-half Bolla Conradie is also facing the axe and JP Joubert is likely to be at number nine.

Tiaan Liebenberg will also start in place of Schalk Brits at hooker and Brock Harris will take over at tighthead prop from Eddie Andrews.

365 Digital

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