The expectation is that Leicester, packed with some experienced internationals, will be too strong for the Stormers, who left their top players at home to avoid travel fatigue ahead of their next fixture in the tournament.
IT’S a chance for the youngsters to make a name for themselves in the European Champions Cup, but the Stormers can’t afford individualistic performances against Leicester Tigers on Sunday afternoon in their opening pool game of the knock-out tournament.
Although they will be happy coming away with a losing bonus point or two, no doubt the Cape side will fancy causing an upset at Welford Road (kick-off 5.15 pm).
The expectation though, is that Leicester, packed with some experienced internationals, will be too strong for the Stormers, who left their top players at home to avoid travel fatigue ahead of their next fixture in the tournament.
Despite not having their best in England, head coach John Dobson insisted his side would not just roll over for their Premiership opponents.
For players such as flyhalf Jurie Matthee, eighth man Keke Morabe, loosie Nama Xaba and centre Suleiman Hartzenberg, this provides the perfect opportunity to step up.
Matthee will make his debut opposite South African star and World Cup-winning Bok flyhalf Handre Pollard. It will be a proper test for the Varsity Cup star. But should he pass, it will give Dobson proper insights into the depth of his flyhalf stocks.
Regular starter Manie Libbok is preparing for Saturday’s challenge of La Rochelle, while injured utility prodigy Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu, who can slot in at flyhalf or centre, is still recovering from an injury.
The 20-year-old Hartzenberg has been learning from the experienced Ruhan Nel and it will be interesting to see how he goes at outside centre, having set the field alight last season on the wing before a serious injury curbed his domestic rugby involvement.
It’s up front, though, where the likes of veteran prop and stand-in captain Brok Harris and hooker Scarra Ntubeni will have to hold the fort alongside a very inexperienced pack of forwards.
Connor Evans and Hendre Stassen will start as the lock pairing, while Morabe’s ball-carrying alongside Xaba’s breakdown play will be vital for the visitors if they want to counter the Tigers.
Dobson highlighted the players he would like to see put on a performance on Sunday afternoon.
“The really exciting player will be Suleiman Hartzenberg, who to my mind is a certain Springbok. He’s just come from a long injury. And number eight Keke Morabe, who will be challenging Evan Roos in the side. And then, on the open side (flank), Nama Xaba,” Dobson said.
“They will be worth watching.“Jurie is a disciplined flyhalf and a very accurate kicker. We think he is a long-term future Stormer. And in these conditions, we really need a 10 that can drive us forward and win the kick-tennis.
“The only challenge is he was injured during pre-season friendlies. So, the challenge will be to go from the Currie Cup in May last year straight to this Leicester team. That is a big question to ask from anybody.“This won’t be a make-or-break game for him. I just hope he performs well.”.
The Stormers will be targeting a bonus point or two for losing within seven points and scoring four tries away from home.
Every point in the competition will matter as they look to get out of a tough group that includes La Rochelle, the Sale Sharks and Stade Francais as their other opponents.
Stormers: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Courtnall Skosan, 13 Suleiman Hartzenberg, 12 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 11 Ben Loader, 10 Jurie Matthee, 9 Paul de Wet, 8 Keke Morabe, 7 Willie Engelbrecht, 6 Nama Xaba, 5 Connor Evans, 4 Hendre Stassen, 3 Brok Harris (captain), 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Sti Sithole. Bench: 16 JJ Kotze, 17 Kwenzo Blose, 18 Lee-Marvin Mazibuko, 19 Dylan Sjoblom, 20 Junior Pokomela, 21 Marcel Theunissen, 22 Stefan Ungerer, 23 Cornel Smit.