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Stormers out to make a statement

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The Cape side will feel that they need to put in a more impressive performance after a laboured win over the Lions last week.

Picture: Phando Jikelo, African News Agency (ANA)

THE STORMERS will certainly be keen to go out there and right the wrongs of their Super Rugby Unlocked opener against the Lions when they take on the Pumas at Mbombela Stadium on Friday evening (kick-off 7pm).

While they secured a 23-17 win in that game, there are a few areas from their opening performance wherein they’ll want to see an improvement. But apart from the team, as a collective, putting together an outing that will really make a statement in this competition, there are also a few individual players that will want to show what they can do as well.

Here are two of them:

Edwill van der Merwe

Edwill van der Merwe. picture: Ryan Wilkisky, BackpagePix.

Rugby is ever changing – changes to the laws, sudden and whimsical changes to how referees interpret those laws, changes in trends, changes in the flavour of the season (when it comes to players), there are always new things to adapt to and see. But one of the things that will always be a constant is this – regardless of how the role might have changed over the years, a winger who knows how to sniff out the try line will always be an asset. And this man knows all about that.

Van der Merwe – a Varsity Cup star who holds the record for the most tries scored in the competition (22) – will get a rare start for the Stormers this evening with both Sergeal Petersen and Seabelo Senatla unavailable for the clash due to injury.

He hasn’t enjoyed this role much while he’s been with the team as Petersen and Senatla have been the two top choices for the places out wide. So, if ever there was a time for him to show that the varsity competition isn’t the only stage on which he can dance, it’s now.

Leon Lyons

Picture: twitter.com

The 22-year-old was also part of the squad that faced the Lions last week, but he didn’t make it onto the field as Steven Kitshoff played a full game. This week, however, he goes straight from the fringes to the starting line-up with Kitshoff and Scarra Ntubeni having been withdrawn after coming into contact with a Lions player who tested positive for Covid-19.

Dobson insisted that Lyons was always going to get a starting berth in this game anyway – not because they are underestimating the Pumas, who are coming off a grand win against Griquas, but because they need to have proper depth.

After all, what’s gonna happen if the World Cup-winning scrummager isn’t available?

Point is, being an understudy to a player of Kitshoff’s quality must be tough as you probably can’t bank on too many starting opportunities unless injury intervenes or the need to rotate arises. And that right there makes this chance a golden one for Lyons.

Dobson called him one for the future during the team announcement press conference, and now’s his gap to show the rest of the country why.

Team

Stormers (15-1): Warrick Gelant, Edwill van der Merwe, Dan du Plessis, Rikus Pretorius, Leolin Zas, Damian Willemse, Herschel Jantjies, Juarno Augustus, Ernst van Rhyn, Siya Kolisi (captain), Chris van Zyl, Salmaan Moerat, Frans Malherbe, Bongi Mbonambi, Leon Lyons.

Bench (from): Chad Solomon, Kwenzo Blose, Neethling Fouché, JD Schickerling, Nama Xaba, Jaco Coetzee, Godlen Masimla, Michal Haznar, Tim Swiel, Tristan Leyds.