The Stormers and the Highlanders will be going at each other’s throats this Saturday, which means that both teams will try to field the most competitive starting formation. Allister Coetzee is particularly motivated to win this game, as it will be played in front of its fans and as a result decided to make certain changes. Four players will be replaced and Springbok flank Burger is one of the beneficiaries, as he will play instead of Siya Kolisi.
This should also be a big day for Kurt Coleman who is expected to play for the Stormers in his debut game, while Scarra Ntubeni and winger Sailosi Tagicakibau will also return on the pitch. There were a couple of fitness concerns that kept both of them on the bench but it looks like they are now back in shape and has trained with the team this midweek.
Having all of them in the starting formation will greatly improve the hosts’ chance of prevailing, but it would be a mistake to minimize the importance of Deon Fourie and Siya Kolisi. These are highly versatile players that can field several roles with ease and if they would be playing in the same squad as Schalk Burger and Kurt Coleman, they’d get creative. This is going to be a very difficult match for the hosts even with all this talent, but they are rightfully credited with the first chance to win.
Another big news is that Richie Gray has signed a contract with the Springboks and he’s expected to play a significant role next year. The November tests and the Rugby Championship provided him with extra opportunities to prove his usefulness as a consultant, which explains why he was given a permanent role. He brings a lot of experience to the table as he worked for the Scottish Rugby Union for over a decade.
Richie makes no mistake and is fully aware of the fact that expectations are high, but he has all that you can hope from someone in his position. The South Africans had problems in the past with the breakdown, but most of these issues are expected to find a swift resolution, now that Gray is on their side. The World Cup is just a year away, and the interest for the upcoming competition is tremendous already.